Google’s Android operating system has always been given away free of charge to phone manufacturers in the hope of growing the ecosystem of devices that will access the company’s many internet based services. But Google’s rivals are complaining to European antitrust regulators that the search giant is using Android as a “trojan horse” with the aim of locking out competing services.
How? By contractually demanding that vendors who want Google Maps or YouTube or the Google Play store also preload its many other services. Such an approach to openness “uses deceptive conduct to lockout competition in mobile,” rivals argue…
The New York Times reports that the 17-member anti-Google coalition, calling itself “Fairsearch Europe,” counts as members Microsoft and its handset partner Nokia, database vendor Oracle, the TripAdvisor and Expedia services among others.
Phone makers that agree to use Android, and that also want to include Google applications like YouTube, face contractual requirements to place those applications and other Google-branded applications in prominent positions on the mobile device’s desktop, Thomas Vinje, the lead lawyer for Fairsearch Europe, said.
A written statement from Vinje, which was published on the coalition’s official web site, reads:
Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data.
We are asking the Commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market.
The release also mentions “Google’s predatory distribution of Android at below-cost” which it says makes it “difficult for other providers of operating systems to recoup investments in competing with Google’s dominant mobile platform.”
In an interview on Monday, the European Union’s antitrust chief, Joaquín Almunia, declined to comment on the complaint but said officials had been looking closely at the Android operating system independently of the two-year inquiry into whether Google had abused its dominance of Internet search.
Google spokesman Al Verney declined to specifically discuss either the new complaint, or the comments by Mr. Almunia about the search case, merely saying that the company continued “to work cooperatively” with the commission.