LONDON — The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has alleged that Google has abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators, and so has breached EU competition law.
The Commission stated Wednesday that Google has pursued a strategy on mobile devices that seeks to preserve and strengthen its dominance in internet search.
First, Google Search is pre-installed and set as the default search service on most Android devices sold in Europe. Second, Google appears to close off ways for rival search engines to access the market, via competing mobile browsers and operating systems.
In its “Statement of Objections,” the Commission alleges that Google has breached EU antitrust rules by requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google’s Chrome browser, and requiring them to set Google Search as default search service on their devices, as a condition to license certain Google proprietary apps.
The Commission further states that Google prevents manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code.
Finally, it says that Google gives financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-install Google Search on their devices.
In a statement, Margrethe Vestager, the EC commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: “A competitive mobile internet sector is increasingly important for consumers and businesses in Europe. Based on our investigation thus far, we believe that Google’s behavior denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players, in breach of EU antitrust rules.”
Kent Walker, Google’s senior VP and general counsel, said: “Android has helped foster a remarkable and, importantly, sustainable ecosystem, based on open-source software and open innovation. We look forward to working with the European Commission.”