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Google attacked over antitrust issues with Android and the mobile market

Android

A group of companies led by Microsoft are calling on European authorities to launch an antitrust investigation into Google. The motion behind the move is the search giant's hold over the mobile industry with Google services on smartphones.

The group (called FairSearch) of 17, which includes Nokia and Oracle claim that Google is acting immorally by giving away the Android mobile operating system to OEM partners with the requirement for its software and service applications (Google Maps, YouTube, etc.) to be installed and prominently displayed. 

Having the largest chunk of market share in the industry (much like Microsoft with Windows), Google finds itself in a position that makes the company an easy target for such claims to be made. Thomas Vinje, FairSearch's Brussels-based lawyer, had the following to comment:

"Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a Trojan horse to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data."

It's of course obvious as to why Microsoft would desire to take action against Google, especially with Bing in the picture. As well as search services, Microsoft would look to harm the Android platform in any way it can to help push Windows Phone. FairSearch said the following in a statement:

"Google's predatory distribution of Android at below-cost makes it difficult for other providers of operating systems to recoup investments in competing with Google's dominant mobile platform."

The European Commission isn't obliged to take further action other than to reply to the group's complaint. Google has said in a statement that the company will continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission. The search giant is already under investigation by the EC for practices related to the dominance of online search and advertising.

Google has also come under fire in China for the Android dominance of the smartphone market, forcing the company to defend itself in multiple regions. But we're not finished as several European data privacy regulators are reported to have launched investigations into Google's practices, claiming the company is creating a "data goldmine." It's quite the mess.

Microsoft has continuously poked fun at Google with the GMail Man promotions, alleging the company collects information based on its user base to fire up targeted advertising - Google makes its buck from advertising, and altering the privacy policy last year sparked some complaints.

Source: USA Today

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Reader comments

Google attacked over antitrust issues with Android and the mobile market

80 Comments

Quite true. The Microsoft of old were a towering monopoly that got taken down a peg by anti-trust and were limited in their innovation and what they could do within their markets. Today's Microsoft is trying to rise up from the ashes in a beautiful way IMO.
It's about time someone started trying to take out Google's knees for the crap they have been pulling. Stuff like google maps on WP went unanswered among other things.

Apple is Apple back in the 80's & 90's. Steve Jobs stole some ideas, passed them off as their own, they made a bunch of money.. then he left and they were fucked for years. 

The entire Google Android division is nothing but Trojan Horse, And now they have near monopoly status in many markets, Fine them heavily EU, make them pay for invading privacy and selling customers information to advertisers.

I don't really like this.
I also did not like the jugement of the EU, that MS is punished for preinstalling IE on all Window OS. It's not like you couldn't easily download an other browser.
I think the company who invented a product such as an mobile or pc operating system, should have to the right to preinstall their software on it, (!) as long as you are able to use different software.
Why should a company, which spent lot of time on million lines of programm code, be forced to use other software on their OS.
Then just don't use this OS and create your own...Oh wait you can't because your are just some dumb non coding judge.
MS or Google never mind, but they created this OS, so why their are forced to use other software for preinstalled apps?

it doesnt really matter to me but im glad at least that if microsoft has to be charged with these things that google also be charged. It doesnt make sense for other companies to come under fire while companies like google, who are basically the new "old" microsoft do whatever they want.

I pretty much feel the same way.  I remember arguing against the EU fines against MS until I was blue in the face but to no avail.  So its nice to at least see that standard finally being applied to another company other than MS.

That's not quite the point. It's about how easy (or hard) they make it to find and use the alternatives. Possible rulings may include having to have options for Bing and Yahoo search in the browser, and possibly Vimeo installed along with YouTube, for example (just off the top of my head).

I see what you mean. This week I tried to put my outlook.com email on my Nexus S and found it to be a difficult task. In fact I gave up. Compare that to setting up a Windows Phone email and the most popular email clients are there with easy setups. Google is a breeze to setup on Windows Phone and Windows 8.

It's called fair competition. So by your logic... if you drive a Ford vehicle it should only have Ford branded parts and not any other brands, and if you use a  TV it should only accept proprietary cords, or better yet, your phones shouldn't allow any competitors apps to run, or even let their products work with other competitors.. oh wait thats what Google has done .
 
And they are not forced to use other software, they were forced to include choice in the preinstalled software, so if they were to preinstall IE they also had to have Firefox or Chrome or something else preinstalled as well.

Sorry but your Ford analogy is silly. Android allows users to use alternative software should the choose to do so and that's not what this complaint is about. It's about Google Apps coming preinstalled on Android devices. If they had no option to remove or no option to use another app, I'd understand the complaint. But that's not what we're talking about. 

i agree with you. petty is the word but since everyone and their mothers seem to be gunning for microsoft to fail, i can kinda see why they are doing what they can to fight back. i get that the world sees microsoft in a negative light because of the 90's but if a company looks legitimate in its attempt to play fair, i only see it as all the more reason to defend itself. Even if it is in a petty way. feel me homie? :D

It's not really playing gotcha, it's more trying to hold them accountable. Google went after Microsoft and reported them. If Google wasn't prepared to have some sort of retaliation then they shouldn't have been petty in the first place. 

I can see both of your points - I'm thinking about this from a "how would I react" approach instead of a "how would competing firms react" approach, and those are two very different things.
 
But the bottom line is that none of this would have happened if Europe's laws were written in a way that actually made sense given the reality of software development and marketing. 

Can candlemakers, electricity providers, light bulb makers etc. file suit against the sun for providing similar forms of illumination below cost? Should the sun be forced to give everyone on earth options regarding the light provider of their choice? 

I agree, the EU's laws are poorly written, but I think Microsoft choose the law that gave them the best chance of retailiating against Google, instead of the law that best fit what Google is doing.

Keep in mind that Microsoft outsold apple devices in some European countries too. So if they can outsell apple, the may have a shot with Android

No one here seems,to,understand the complaint is that they offer the OS for free. Google is doing what old school monopolists did. Give away your product for below cost, in this case free, until your competitors go out of business. Then when your the only one left standing you can do w/e you want.

Actually that's not what old school monopolists did at all - they colluded to set prices and avoid competition. They're also not asking Google to start charging for Android. They're asking the EU to apply their competition laws that they've applied to Microsoft for over a decade to Android. Whether or not the OS is free or not makes little difference to their legal case. Complaining that someone giving a product away for FREE makes it hard for you to SELL your non-free product is not what this group is doing. 

Sounds wrong. A company that has a monopoly on a market is by definition the only relevant player in that market. As such, a monopoly has no need to set prices with anyone, as their isn't anyone else in the market to compete with.

Not wrong, I think they are both right to a degree. What I think is being described are the acts that lead to the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The reason why it is called such is because a group of companies had formed a trust and collued to fix prices low enough to drive competition out, once their competition was gone they were free to raise prices again, to whatever they wanted. Keep in mind that this 'old school' monopoly is really old school, like turn of the 20th century old.

It's happening to MS & Google becz these companies licence their OS. EU will never go after Apple becz they are doing their own thing..

I think Apple should be fined HARD :P

Wait, if MS was punished for having ie installed... If ie weren't installed HOW WOULD YOU GET ANOTHER BROWSER?

Microsoft was forced to provide an option for multiple browsers which would be intalled upon selection. So there was supposed to be no browser actually installed until the user made the choice. Then the chosen browser would be installed. I've no clue how the included options were chosen or by whom. It all seems rather silly to me. Good money maker for the EU and laywers in my opinion.

Lets face it, WP7 or 8 doesn't have much choice in browsers... and if they would get a complaint from google that they have their browser preinstalled, Microsoft would say "it's preinstalled cause there is no choice between chrome browser and IE since chrome doesn't exist on WP devices." And then I would see Microsoft counter sue google for antitrust reasons

so basically microsoft is crying because android is an open source and they cannot compete with the free product?? 

No, they are waving a flag and saying "Hey, you made us comply with these rules, why aren't you holding Google to them as well."

microsoft gets paid for most android phones sold lol. not sure where your argument is, i am assuming microsoft wants fairness. the same thing happened to them because google ratted them out on violating agreements with the EU. almost 800 mil son.

yes.. i know.. that decision was lame as well.. why the hell are the rules so strict when it comes to EU?
 
and how does microsoft get paid for every handset sold???

in regards to the eu laws being so strict i have no idea why they are that way.
they get paid for most android handsets via royalties paid for by the oems due to patent licensing.

Dude its called being fair should google have the right to do what they want I don't think so son -_-

Not if they are doing it in order to monopolize and drive competitors out of the market. If Microsoft was not allowed to do this then Google shouldn't be either. This is only fair.

Jeers all around for anyone involved with Fairsearch, including Microsoft. Take off the fanboy blinders here folks. 
I get that MSFT wants Google Apps on Android to receive the same penalties it received (and continues to receive) for IE on Windows, but the EU laws on competition are the real problem here, not any firm's practices.
Any free software or content is "distriubted below cost" as the complaint says. Firms do this intentionally because their investment in development complements another paid product. Giving away awesome free stuff should not constitute predatory practices and could have serious implications for the future of open software.

I did - I always thought these fair competition laws in Europe were a joke and continue to think that way. 
 
I'm not trolling, if that's what you're insinuating.

EU's laws really do need some refining, but I don't think Microsoft should be jeered at because they are simply trying to pay Google back for the BS it started in the first place. Was Microsoft just supposed to take it like a bullied kid in the school yard? I'd much rather see Microsoft pull a Casey Heynes.

I agree in principal that the EU anti-trust laws are bull shit. I remember having mind spasms when they fined MS a billion dollars for daring to have their software bundled with their own software. But maybe I'm just cynical or petty these days, but its nice to at least see the same bull shit standards that were applied to MS finally being applied to others. I'm just waiting to see when Apple is forced to put a browser ballot into their OSX and iOS devices. In the end though, no one seems to get it as bad as MS so I'm sure Google wont get punished heavily for this.

Because EU thinks that by default you shouldn't be constrained to use from the start a service and since MS was fined with the IE, I see why not do the same to Google.

I wish Microsoft just create IE browser for Android, then make them to have a browser ballot in all Android phones :) ...

ITS ABOUT TIME. I own an Evo LTE so im not here to judge, but im here because i was extremely bothered when the EU took action against Microsoft for the whole Internet Explorer thing and MADE them bundle this software nonesense so that people could chose which Browser they wanted on MICROSOFTS OWN operating system.
 
so its about damn time Google does the same, i dont see anyone else do this, i cant believe Microsoft had to put up with that. and what they are doing shoving google+ down my damn throat here on my phone, i cant even leave a review on apps without accepting terms for posting on google+ W T F.

not defending a corporation here because they all just want my money but i agree with you. it seems that google just gets to waltz around naked flashing their junk at people, while MS is forced into uniform by all the officials. i for one do not want to live in a google world. LET me clarify i dont think google has bad products but choice are what should matter,

If Microsoft STILL has to abide by the EU agreement and release Windows N, it only makes sense that Google should be forced to do the same with an Android N.

Every company data mines and sells your data. Microsoft is hardly the poster child for innocence. Their name is literally synonymous with the world Anti-trust. Oh the irony. It's great to see there is still a little bit of MS bias left in the writing. It's sadly not the same as the heyday of WPCentral, back when WP7 came out, and everyone was an enemy and part of the axis of evil, besides Microsoft of course.

Is Microsoft not doing the same thing with Office and Xbox. Both must be installed on the device and made prominent.
This is stupid.

Nope. You BUY separate license for office. No one is putting there for free and forcing anyone to make it proeminent. As for xbox that is their complete product(like apple case) and not licensed.
The XBOX case is like forcing ferari to sell cars with renault engines or their own engines.

That's why I never use Chrome or any of my android devices without adblock plus installed. Don't need google to know about me.

Funny thing, I actually wanted to buy an HTC One when T-Mobile USA receives the device until I read this article....

It's like saying leaving a giant bowl of candy on your front porch is monopolizing children on halloween because it's "predatory distribution" of candy.

 

This is a coalition of THE most predatory companies on the planet who are butthurt over Google's free software success, and are pissed they can't make money off it.

I was wondering how long it would take for google and indeed apple to fall under the anti trust hammer.

Oh the IRONY! Microsoft suing Google for antitrust violations... Karma is indeed a bitch.
 
Also, Google has every right to freely give away Android, because it's open source. The only requirement to be "Google certified" is to allow native access to the Google Play Store and have Google Apps prominently displayed on the phone.