Google is in the crosshairs of the European Union’s Competition Commission again; with the commission deciding today that Android OS breaches EU competition law. The commissioner has announced she is charging Google over “unfair business practices” which stem from having Google apps preloaded on Android devices.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced the charges at a press conference today in Brussels:
“Google has abused its dominant position… [it] imposes unjustified restrictions and conditions on manufacturers of devices.”
These charges could have a significant impact on how Google does business in Europe going forward. Google has 12 weeks to respond to EU’s statement of objection, which outlines in more detail how Google has breached Europe’s competition law.
The greatest change that could be expected as a result of these charges is Google giving more freedom to phone manufacturers over which apps come preinstalled on their phones. Currently, phones running Android come preinstalled with a suite of Google apps and services.
Despite the fact that consumers purchasing Android phones may appreciate having Google apps installed right out of the box, EU still sees it as being a problem. EU’s gripe with preinstalled apps is that it may discourage consumers from seeking out alternatives, thus stifling competition amongst app makers.
Google has already responded on its Google Europe blog, stating:
“The European Commission has been investigating our approach, and today issued a Statement of Objections, raising questions about its impact on competition. We take these concerns seriously, but we also believe that our business model keeps manufacturers’ costs low and their flexibility high, while giving consumers unprecedented control of their mobile devices. That’s how we designed the model.”
The company goes on to describe that the nature of its partner contracts are voluntary, and when agreeing to “participate in the Android ecosystem” they have the choice whether or not to load the suite of Google apps to their device.
Google will work with the European Commission and attempt to demonstrate that the Android model is good for competition and customers.