European Commission opens antitrust investigation in Android

Android LogoEuropean Commission, which is EU’s executive body, earlier today announced that it is opening a formal investigation in Google on whether it has breached any EU antitrust rules in regards to Android. The Commission is acting on the basis of two complaints it has received from unnamed sources. It will check whether Google is abusing its dominant position in the smartphone market.

Although Android is an open-source operating system, most of the manufacturers around the world use it in their devices with Google apps like Search, Maps and Play Store. To use these Google applications, they have to enter in certain agreements with Google. Now, European Commission wants to investigate whether these agreements breach the antitrust laws of the region.

“Following the receipt of two complaints, as well as an initial investigation carried out by the Commission on its own initiative, the Commission has now opened a formal investigation to assess if certain conditions in Google’s agreements associated with the use of Android and Google’s proprietary applications and services breach EU antitrust rules,” EC wrote in a press release.

There is no word on when this inquiry in Google will complete but the Commission has given Google ten weeks to respond to the allegations. While Google files formal response, the search has published a blog post clarifying Android and the partner agreements.

Google says that all the agreements are totally voluntary and manufacturers are free to use Android without Google apps, but the Google applications provide real benefits to the consumers.

“Anti-fragmentation agreements, for example, ensure apps work across all sorts of different Android devices. (After all, it would be pretty frustrating if an app you downloaded on one phone didn’t also work on your eventual replacement phone.) And our app distribution agreements make sure that people get a great “out of the box” experience with useful apps right there on the home screen (how many of us could get through our day without maps or email?). This also helps manufacturers of Android devices compete with Apple, Microsoft and other mobile ecosystems that come preloaded with similar baseline apps,” explained Google.

The company also noted that the manufacturers are also free to install apps from Google competitors like Microsoft on Android devices.

“..these distribution agreements are not exclusive, and Android manufacturers install their own apps and apps from other companies as well. And in comparison to Apple—the world’s most profitable (mobile) phone company—there are far fewer Google apps pre-installed on Android phones than Apple apps on iOS devices,” added Google.

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