Today, the EU filed antitrust charges against Google related to the Android mobile operating system. The internet is absolutely alight - both for and against the allegations the European Commission has levied at our favorite search company that also makes our favorite mobile operating system. The key complaints boil down to three core ideas.
- Google requires manufacturers to bundle Google Chrome and Google Search, and set Google as the default search provider on their devices if they are GMS (Google Mobile Services) partners. This, allegedly, reduces competition for apps that perform similar or identical functions.
- Google does not allow manufacturers to both be GMS partners and produce incompatible "forks" of Android on other, non-GMS devices.
In the beginning, there was Android. Android was an open-source, largely hardware-agnostic operating system designed to work on a variety of devices and form-factors, and then Google bought the company that made it (also called Android, founded by Andy Rubin). Then, there was Google's Android. Google's Android was still open source, but now it came with stuff you'd actually want to use. Like an app store. And Google Maps. And Gmail. And Google Search. And did I mention Android itself was and is still open source? Because it was and is, and will continue to be likely for many, many, many years into the future. Read More
After a five year investigation of the search giant, European regulators are expected to launch an official antitrust case against Google tomorrow. The Wall Street Journal reports EU Commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager will make the announcement tomorrow (Wednesday the 15th). Google will then be served with a "statement of objection" and charge sheet. At that point, the lawyers will begin legal wrangling that is sure to last years.
The plaintiffs in an antitrust lawsuit against Google have dropped their case after losing in an initial ruling. Just over a month ago, we reported on Google's win. The federal judge overseeing the case ruled in Google's favor, but the plaintiffs had one last chance to change their arguments before the case was closed. Instead, they have decided to withdraw.
A group of consumers accused Google of anticompetitive practices in the distribution of Android due to the stipulation that their search engine must be default in order for the OEM to load the Play Store on devices. The problem here, the plaintiffs allege, is that this precludes competing search providers from being default. Read More
Google has come out unscathed from a lawsuit in which consumers accused the company of anti-competitive practices. The basic allegation was that Google requires manufacturers to use a Google version of Android and that the way they place their own apps at the forefront has increased prices and prevented potential rivals from emerging. The main issue is the stipulation that Google's search be default in order to preload Play Services on Android devices.
There is probably some merit in the raw outline of the complaint; requiring Google Search to be default in order to access the rest of the Google goodies has probably held down competitors both in the search and mobile software market. Read More
Yandex is often called "the Google of Russia," for pretty obvious reasons: it owns and operates the largest search engine (by market share) in the country, and it has expanded into familiar markets like webmail, online video, mapping services, and even an app store. Still, Yandex has found that Google's hold on Android is basically unshakeable at this point, so the company has resolved to take advantage of Android's open source nature and provide superior alternatives to its customers. Ha, just kidding. They're sicking the Russian regulators on Google instead.
TechCrunch reports that Yandex has asked the Russian antitrust authority to investigate Google, specifically for setting its own search engine as the default on Android devices. Read More
FairSearch Europe—a coalition of Google competitors or legal adversaries including, among others, Microsoft, Nokia, and Oracle—has filed a complaint with the European Union alleging that Google is abusing its dominant OS position in the mobile market to push its own set of apps.
The group claims that Android is used "as a deceptive way to build advantages for key Google apps in 70 percent of the smartphones shipped today," pointing out that manufacturers have to agree to a certain set of rules requiring inclusion or placement of certain apps. If they want to use Google apps, of course. Manufacturers are free to use Android for whatever purpose they choose without them, if they think that will be a greater benefit. Read More
Over at Google's Public Policy Blog (yes, that really exists) today, Senior VP Dennis Woodside issued a statement that the U.S. Department of Justice was taking a "second look" at certain potential antitrust issues in the Google-Motorola deal. What's it mean?
A $12.5 billion acquisition of a major US company that has been independent for over 30 years is always going to invite scrutiny from Uncle Sam, and let's face it, it's probably not a bad sign that the government is batting a second eye at these kinds of purchases.
Google, according to the post as shown below, remains confident that the deal will go through, and is cooperating fully with the DoJ during this evaluation, one Google has undergone before. Read More
In the ongoing saga that is the AT&T and T-Mobile merger, yet another bump in the road has surfaced. This time it's directly from the United States government, who says that if the AT&T/T-Mobile merger were to go through, it would "remove a significant competitive force from the market." As a result, the U.S. has filed an antitrust complaint looking to block the proposed deal.
While this doesn't mean a guaranteed rejection, it is most definitely going to make progress much harder for Ma Bell. If the estimated $39 billion deal does get rejected, however, AT&T will still have to pay $3 billion to Deutsche Telekom, the owner of T-Mobile USA, as well as provide T-Mo with wireless spectrum in some areas and reduced charges for use of AT&T's network. Read More