Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 20th Apr 2016 10:26 UTC

The European Commission has formally lodged an antitrust complaint regarding Android.

The European Commission has informed Google of its preliminary view that the company has, in breach of EU antitrust rules, abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators.

The Commission's preliminary view is that Google has implemented a strategy on mobile devices to preserve and strengthen its dominance in general internet search. First, the practices mean that Google Search is pre-installed and set as the default, or exclusive, search service on most Android devices sold in Europe. Second, the practices appear to close off ways for rival search engines to access the market, via competing mobile browsers and operating systems. In addition, they also seem to harm consumers by stifling competition and restricting innovation in the wider mobile space.

Google has already responded in a blog post (read the whole thing):

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.

This EU antitrust complaint is one of the biggest jokes in EU antitrust history; an even bigger joke than the Windows N editions. Not only is Android open source, the operating system has created a vastly more open and consumer- and competition friendly mobile operating system than anything else that has ever existed on the market. The situation before Android was absolutely dreadful - dozens, if not hundreds, of closed little feature phone platforms, the closed-source Windows Mobile, the completely locked-down iOS, the heavily fragmented, obtuse, and effectively locked-down Symbian.

The situation after Android is that any user has a lot of control over the software they run on their phone, with tons of cheap, yet high quality devices to choose from. You can install whatever software you want, from whatever source you want, without having to go through Google or anyone else. Developers can target a vast segment of the market - Android has 80% market share in Europe - without being beholden to the nonsensical whims of a single corporation. In addition, users can run Android on pretty much any phone without any additional Google software or services.

The situation clearly isn't perfect by any means, but the real problems with mobile software are not in Android - or iOS for that matter - but in the baseband processors, firmware, and similar software. Far less sexy, of course, and yet a far bigger problem that needs to be tackled.

This entire antitrust complaint is a complete waste of money and taxpayer resources - which, coincidentally, makes it a very EU thing to do.

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RE: While technically true...
by cranfordio on Thu 21st Apr 2016 11:32 UTC in reply to "While technically true..."
Member since:

The idea that Apple is just as guilty of these violations as Google has been going on for ages, it just used to be Microsoft not Google. The reason they are never attacked though is because of their differing business models. Google makes Android available to any phone manufacturer in order to increase competition, but then they are accused of forcing the manufacturers to only use Google services, therefore limiting competition where their services are concerned. This was basically what Microsoft did do with Internet Explorer, and to a lesser extent Windows Media Player. Where Apple is different is that they don't offer their OS to other manufacturers, they make the OS and the hardware. They aren't trying to force other manufacturers into using their services because they don't offer their services to other manufacturers. If people don't want to use Apple services then they don't buy Apple products. But with Android if you don't want to use Google services, and you are the average consumer that knows nothing about loading custom ROMs, etc. then your choices are few. It doesn't matter if you choose Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola, whatever, you basically have no choice in regards to Google services.

Reply Parent Score: 2

jimmystewpot Member since:

Many of the Chinese handsets are now available in the EU with or without Google Play and the other google services. So there are some choices.

Is it Googles fault that most telco providers do not supply those devices on a contract?

Consumers have a choice, you can go and install all the custom software you want on android in or out of the market place. It's also easy enough to do for complete computer novices.

Reply Parent Score: 1