Google Sees EU as a Threat to Android Giveaway Strategy

Google Sees EU as a Threat to Android Giveaway Strategy

Google’s strategy of giving away mobile-phone software will be at risk if European Union antitrust regulators order it to change distribution pacts with phone makers and telecom operators, according to Bloomberg. Google is telling the EU that the Android operating system "hasn’t hurt competition" when it’s installed on phones and tablets for free and under strict conditions, Google General Counsel Kent Walker said in the blog. An EU assault on that model would "send an unintended signal favoring closed over open platforms" and undermine how the company tries to protect and promote its software.

Google filed its formal response to answer regulators’ charges that it wields its power as the world’s leading phone software supplier to impose its search and Web programs on billions of mobile users. The EU in April sent Google a formal antitrust complaint, accusing the company of striking restrictive contracts requiring phone makers to install Google apps and of paying telecom operators to put Google search on devices. The Android probe is one of three that Google is fighting to avoid potentially huge fines and radical changes to the way it does business. The EU must now weigh responses to its allegations against Android and its comparison shopping and online advertising services before it weighs decisions that can fine a company as much 10 percent of yearly revenue.

Fairsearch, a group including TripAdvisor and Nokia, called on the EU to pursue the case to the end "and require Google to change its behavior so consumers can benefit from the resulting innovation emerging from a competitive marketplace for search, browsers, and everything else on a smart phone." It asked the EU in 2013 to investigate Android. Russia’s anti-monopoly office this month ordered Google to pay a 1 million-ruble ($15,400) fine for failing to fully comply with an earlier order to stop pre-installing its apps on Android mobile devices. The company was fined 438 million rubles in August for violating antitrust rules, following a complaint by Russian search engine Yandex.

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