European Commission

The European Union Launches An Antitrust Investigation Against Android

April 9, 2013 - Written By Norman Yan

Google faces more legal strife today as the European Union begins to scrutinize Google’s Android platform as a way to gain an unfair advantage in the mobile application business. Currently, Android is the dominant smartphone operating system with over 2 million device activations a day, which accumulated to 70.1% of smartphones shipped in Q4 of 2012. As a result of Google’s dominance in the market, Fairsearch Europe -a group composed of companies such as Nokia, Microsoft and Oracle- has filed a complaint against Google for abusing their position to promote Google Services over that of competitors.

Google has responded to the charges by stating “We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission.” Google has reason to be confident in this case despite Fairsearch lawyers stating Google uses Android “as a deceptive way to build advantages for key Google apps in 70 percent of the smartphones shipped today.”

Fairsearch Europe’s mission statement is:

FairSearch.org is a group of businesses and organizations united to promote economic growth, innovation and choice across the Internet ecosystem by fostering and defending competition in online and mobile search. We believe in enforcement of existing laws to prevent anticompetitive behavior that harms consumers.

While I support fair and competitive markets, where all players have an even playing field because it helps foster competition and innovation, I believe that Fairsearch Europe’s motives in this situation are questionable.

It’s no secret that Nokia and Microsoft have been struggling to gain a foothold in the smart phone market, especially since Windows Phone only makes up about 3% of shipments in Q4 2012. While there is a variety of reasons for the Windows 8 and RT platform failure -as our senior writer Lucian Armasu covered– the main point I’m trying to make here, is that the relatively small ecosystem for the Windows platform is the cause.

By launching the anti-trust suit against Google, Microsoft could be trying to reduce Google’s control over Android thus driving the platform on a downward spiral. However, this is unlikely to be the case because Google applications comprise the core of Android functionality while the open nature of Android allows other companies to release their own products effortlessly that compete against Google on the Play Store. For example, Waze is an alternative to Google Maps. Let’s not forget, Microsoft also has a dubious record when it comes to gaining an unfair advantage in new markets, a great example of this is the age-old internet browser war.

Due to the reasons behind the case and the companies involved, it seems as though it’s actually Google’s competitors that are using “deceptive ways to build an advantage” in the smart phone market.

Source: New York Times