Last April the European Commission, the EU's executive body, issued a statement criticizing Google's management of Android. The Commission accused Google of facilitating monopolistic practices, specifically by tying the Play Store, the Android version of Chrome, and other common Google apps to Google's Search services among licensed Android manufacturers. Keeping manufacturers from releasing forks of Android as a condition of participating in the Google ecosystem - a process which Google calls "anti-fragmentation" - was also an issue. It took a while, but Google has finally published a full response to the Commission. Read More
It's no secret that Android is heavily integrated with Google search. Google Now (soon to be Google Assistant) is the primary voice assistant, and Google search is included on every device with the Google Play Store. According to Reuters, Google also pays device manufacturers to keep Google as the only search application on Android devices, and the European Union isn't thrilled.
EU antitrust regulators are ordering Google's parent company, Alphabet, to cease providing incentives to keep Google search installed exclusively on Android devices. A 150+ page EU document outlines the issue, stating that Google "cannot punish or threaten" manufacturers for not complying with its conditions. Read More
Google is no stranger to legal conflict in Europe: between accusations of monopolistic practices with Android and web search tools, to a forced implementation of the European Union's "right to be forgotten" laws, to butting heads with German privacy advocates over Street View data, it's safe to say that the company's relationship with the continent is... complicated. The latest complication comes from the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, which will reportedly hand down an unprecedented fine over Google's alleged violations of antitrust laws. Read More
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.
As had been previously reported, the European Parliament has now taken a vote on and passed a non-binding resolution that, if it should become a regulatory act of the European Commission, would seek to have Google's Search product broken up into a separate company. The motivation behind the resolution, according to the European Parliament's statement, is in "ensuring competitive conditions within the digital single market."
What's a digital single market? It is essentially the EU's attempt to regulate how businesses and governments alike should behave on the web, particularly in regards to competition, net neutrality, and privacy. The notion is that, if EU governments agree to regulate the internet in a completely uniform fashion as defined by the EU Commission, fewer economic, regulatory, and competitive roadblocks will exist for startups to flourish, no matter what EU state they're from. Read More
Update: After we reached out to a Google representative, the company gave us the following statement:
We’ve been working closely with the European Commission and consumer protection agencies for the last few months to make improvements to Google Play that will be good for our users and provide better protections for children.
The representative was unable to comment on potential changes for the Play Store in the US or other non-European locations.
Consumer unrest over the prevalence of in-app purchases in free-to-play games has grown as of late, and nowhere is it more apparent than in Europe. The European Commission, the EU's legislative arm, has issued instructions to both Google and Apple to more accurately market the erstwhile "free" games. Read More
If you're traveling between countries in the European Union, there's good news for your wallet: it won't be quite so thoroughly mugged by international roaming charges starting today. After a vote by the European Commission last month, wireless roaming charges for text, data, and voice usage are being forcibly reduced across its 28 member states. Today's policy change will lower maximum roaming charges to 45 European cents per megabyte, 24 cents per outgoing call minute, 7 cents per received call minute, and 8 cents for a text message, plus value-added tax in all cases. Data gets the most dramatic reduction, with an average savings of 36% over last year. Read More
Starting in July 2014, Europeans will be free of burdensome roaming charges as they travel across the European Union's 27 member states. This comes after officials voted to terminate such fees for voice calls, text messages, and internet access as part of a move to create a single European telecoms market. This is great news for French citizens hopping across the border to Germany, but it will have no impact on tourists from outside of the continent. Americans, for example, will still have their roaming fees determined by their carriers back home.
Officials hope that this change will allow Europe to begin consolidating mobile network operators in order to improve the quality of service among member states. Read More