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article imageGoogle to EU: The iPhone's existence means Android's competitive

By James Walker     Nov 10, 2016 in Technology
Google has filed a response to the EU's antitrust charges against its Android mobile operating system. The EU has alleged the company abuses its monopoly by bundling its own apps and services with Android, claims Google has consistently denied.
Google condensed its statement to the EU into a blog post outlining its views on how Android improves competition, rather than stifling it. It noted that 24,000 devices from 1,300 brands run Android and are available from as little as 25 euros. "Android hasn't hurt competition, it's expanded it," Kent Walker, general counsel of Google, wrote.
Android now powers over 80 percent of all smartphones. It comes with Google's services and core apps preinstalled, something the EU has taken offence to. It has said that having Google's search engine and Chrome web browser preinstalled on new phones automatically leads to consumers using those services. Google appears to be abusing its market monopoly to promote growth in its other products, something prohibited under EU law.
Google said the European Commission's case "is based on the idea that Android doesn't compete with Apple's iOS." It noted that 89 percent of respondents to the EU's own market survey described Apple and Google as competitors in the smartphone space, pointing to articles suggesting Apple views Google as a rival. "To ignore competition with Apple is to miss the defining feature of today's competitive smartphone landscape," said Google.
Google denied that its preloading of certain apps with Android, such as Gmail and Google Calendar, breaks competition laws. It said that no Android device manufacturer is obliged to install any of the company's apps. In practice, the vast majority do because consumers want them to be available. It noted that both Apple's iOS and Microsoft's Windows Phone "not only do the same, but they allow much less choice in the apps that come with their phones."
While the company's points have been accepted by many consumers, it is thought that Google's latest response to the case will do little to sway the EU. Analysts have suggested that Google's simplest course of action is to settle the EU's charges. The company is reluctant to do so though. It believes it's acting in the interests of consumers who care little for the EU's anti-trust regulations in the first place.
The case against Google comes alongside another inquiry into its use of shopping links in search results. Both inquiries contain parallels to the EU's 2009 ruling against Microsoft over its Windows operating system. The company was found guilty of limiting competition by bundling its Internet Explorer web browser with Windows.
Microsoft was forced to develop a program shown to every Windows user that allowed them to pick a web browser after purchasing a new PC. The deal expired in 2014 and Microsoft has removed the prompt. More recently, it has been criticised again for making it difficult to use third-party web browsers on Windows 10.
The case grew out of a much wider dispute between the EU and Microsoft dating from 1993. Google's rhetoric in its blog post suggests it doesn't see similarities in the two though. It repetitively explained how device manufacturers are under no obligation to include its services, unlike companies that use Windows on their products. Google said it's committed to "continuing the dialogue" with the EU and has no intention of conceding defeat in the near future.
"[The EU's ruling] would mean less innovation, less choice, less competition and higher prices," said Google. "That wouldn’t be just a bad outcome for us. It would be a bad outcome for developers, for phone makers and carriers and, most critically, for consumers."
More about Google, Android, Eu, Antitrust, Smartphones