Last April the European Commission opened a formal investigation against Google and its parent company Alphabet, claiming Android operating system has, “in breach of EU antitrust rules”, crippled the platform’s competition.
The specifics of the accusations could be summed up into the 3 following points:
According to EU Commission Google breaches the 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.
- 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.
Google response to the accusations was swift, however, it was also ambiguous regarding the bone of contention leaving the question whether the company’s approach actually leads to impairing competition still open.
As expected, due to the nature of their answer, the issue did not resolved at that and Google has now filed a new, much more detailed response.
Google’s Response 2
Unlike before, this time Google actually did took the time and compiled a response that tries to break EU allegations one by one.
The short version of Google’s response to the EU Commission: “Android hasn’t hurt competition, it’s expanded it“.
The longer version:
According to Google, the commission neglects an important aspect of the current situation where Android actually has a fierce competition coming from iOS by Apple.
Furthermore, Google warns the Commission of the dangers that fragmentation might hold in the case the company did not enforce a unified standard among manufacturers, stressing that many developers are relying on that standard.
As for the apps Google pushes to manufacturers part of the Android suit, Google says manufacturers aren’t obliged to load those but, once again, if you take a glimpse at what’s going on by other competitors (mentioning Apple and Microsoft) – they too push their own apps with the OS.
Moreover, users are free to use which app they want regardless of what apps ships with the OS itself.
Lastly, in the bottom line, Google asks to remind the Commission that we are not living in a bubble and development costs money, distributing products like Google Search together with Google Play permits the company to offer the entire suite for free.
Hurting the existing model by imposing restriction over one side – Google side that is – will entail less innovation, less choice, less competition, and higher prices. In addition to that it may signal favouring closed over open platforms – which will be bad outcome for all of us, warns Google.
Of course, once again, Google neglects referring to the fact that (at least) on some Android versions the pre-installed Google Search box is not removable nor replaceable unless rooting the device – a process which require above average skill to accomplish.
Will the EU Commission accept Google claim this time is yet remained to be seen.
The full response by Google is available here.