According to a report by Financial Times, the European Commission (EU) is gearing up to charge Google, for providing unfair prominence to its own apps like search and maps in the supplementary software licensing deals it strikes with mobile phone makers running its Android operating system. It seems the Commission has sent out requests for information from complainants with 24-hour deadlines. Such tight deadlines hint a fast charging of charge sheets, said the report.
According to the report, Margrethe Vestager, EU competition commissioner, will deliver a public statement on Wednesday stating the formal complaint against Google. The scrutiny of the case started a year ago.
“Our concern is that by requiring phone makers and operators to pre-load a set of Google apps, rather than letting them decide for themselves which apps to load, Google might have cut off one of the main ways that new apps can reach customers,” Vestager said at a regulatory conference in Amsterdam.
Google requires phone vendors to sign confidential contracts. A handful of those contracts leaked into the public realm. Although there are no clauses in the contract that explicitly force phone manufacturers to pre-load certain Google apps, they do, effectively, require it in order for phone makers to install the Google Play app store.
This is not the first time that Ms. Vestager is acting against Google. In 2015, Ms. Vestager filed a charge sheet against Google for abusing its dominance in the web search to promote its own shopping services. The decision on the shopping service case could come later in 2016.
Google denied any wrong-doing in either of the cases. “Anyone can use Android with or without Google applications. Hardware manufacturers and carriers can decide how to use Android and consumers have the last word about which apps they want to use,” Google spokesman Mark Jansen said in a statement.
The Commission also said that it would also investigate if Alphabet, the parent company of Google has prevented any tablet/smartphone makers from developing a more competent OS than Android.
The majority of the mobile phones in Europe runs on Android. Only 27% of other phones carry iOS. Microsoft or Blackberry barely registers in the rankings.