European Union slams Google with search antitrust charges, launches Android investigation

The European Commission has charged Google with abusing its dominant position in Internet search services in Europe by systematically favoring its own comparison shopping product, Google Shopping. It also opened an antitrust investigation into Google’s Android mobile operating system.

Such conduct infringes EU antitrust rules because it stifles competition and harms consumers, the Commission said Wednesday, adding that it has formally notified Google of the charges in a so-called Statement of Objections. Google now gets a chance to defend itself before the Commission makes a final decision, which could include a fine of up to 10 percent of the company’s annual turnover.

Google responding to the charges with a blog post saying it believes there is thriving competition and innovation in Europe’s online search market. “We respectfully but strongly disagree with the need to issue a Statement of Objections and look forward to making our case over the weeks ahead,” Amit Singhal, senior vice president of Google Search wrote.

The decision though was welcomed by complainants Foundem and ICOMP, an industry association representing Google opponents including Microsoft.

Aiming at Android

At the same time, the Commission also opened a separate antitrust investigation into Google’s mobile operating system Android. It suspects Google of abusing its dominant position by, among other things, requiring device manufacturers to bundle Google’s own services and applications with the open-source operating system.

The Commission has received two complaints concerning Android and will focus on three allegations. First, Google is said to have required that smartphone and tablet manufacturers exclusively pre-installed Google applications on their devices, which could be anti-competitive as it would prevent rivals from being successful.

Second, Google is suspected of having prevented manufacturers who want to use Google apps from developing and marketing modified and potentially competing versions of Android on other devices. This practice would be illegal as it would be prevent rival operating systems from entering the market, the Commission said.

Read more: European Union slams Google with search antitrust charges, launches Android investigation | PCWorld.