Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

European Commission Sends Statement of Objections to Google

From the E.U.’s press release (emphasis theirs):

The Commission opened proceedings in April 2015 concerning Google’s conduct as regards the Android operating system and applications. At this stage, the Commission considers that Google is dominant in the markets for general internet search services, licensable smart mobile operating systems and app stores for the Android mobile operating system. Google generally holds market shares of more than 90% in each of these markets in the European Economic Area (EEA). In today’s Statement of Objections, the Commission alleges that Google has breached EU antitrust rules by:

  • requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google’s Chrome browser and requiring them to set Google Search as default search service on their devices, as a condition to license certain Google proprietary apps;

  • preventing manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code;

  • giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-install Google Search on their devices.

The Commission believes that these business practices may lead to a further consolidation of the dominant position of Google Search in general internet search services. It is also concerned that these practices affect the ability of competing mobile browsers to compete with Google Chrome, and that they hinder the development of operating systems based on the Android open source code and the opportunities they would offer for the development of new apps and services.

After reading through the tweets linked on the relevant Techmeme entry, it strikes me that very few people seem to understand the E.U.’s objections here. The market dominance is not a problem in of itself, nor is it necessarily wrong to prejudice first-party products and services over those from third parties. The objection is that Google is combining those things. The Commission’s press release is rather comprehensive; many of the knee-jerk reactions to this feel deliberately ignorant.

The Canadian Competition Bureau recently dropped its investigation into similar allegations. In Europe, there are several investigations pending.