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November 11, 2016

Google fights back on Android in EU anti-trust case

The EC is investigating Google over breaching anti-trust rules with the Android operating system.

By Alexander Sword

Google has blasted European Commission (EC) claims that the Android operating system is anti-competitive.

In a blog post, Kent Walker, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Google, said that Android had stimulated innovation in the smartphone market and that Android “carefully balances the interests of users, developers, hardware makers, and mobile network operators.”

The EC is investigating Google over whether it gave incentives to manufacturers to pre-install Google apps and services on their devices and bundled Google software with other products.

It is also accused of preventing manufacturers from preventing manufacturers from getting access to Google services if modified Android code.

Walker raised four main objections to the EC’s case, the first being that Android
competes with Apple’s iOS and that this is “the defining feature of today’s competitive smartphone landscape.”android

The second objection was that the presence of a consistent and stable version of Android provided a stable foundation for developers to innovate around.

Walker argued that if manufacturers were allowed to modify the code completely, the platform would be subject to “fragmentation”.

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“To manage this challenge, we work with hardware makers to establish a minimum level of compatibility among Android devices,” wrote Walker.

Walker thirdly argued that offering apps as part of a suite was not harmful to competition.

“No manufacturer is obliged to preload any Google apps on an Android phone. But we do offer manufacturers a suite of apps so that when you buy a new phone you can access a familiar set of basic services.”

Finally, Walker said that bundling some Google products allowed the company to offer its suite for free, lowering prices for manufacturers and consumers.

The investigation began in 2015, with the European Commission issuing its Statement of Objections in April 2016.

In November Google also submitted its response to the European Commission (EC)’s anti-trust investigation into its online shopping practices, claiming that the online shopping world is already competitive enough.

Walker said that claims that Google Shopping was harming competition were wrong “as a matter of fact, law, and economics.”

Walker claimed that there was plenty of competition between search engines like Google, price comparison sites and merchants and merchant platforms such as Amazon.

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