Google now facing antitrust scrutiny in Europe over Android

EU has been examining whether the Web giant has engaged in anticompetitive behavior through the dominance of its mobile operating system, The New York Times reports.

Google is facing a fresh round of antitrust scrutiny from the European Union, this time for Android.

The revelation emerges as the Web giant tries to resolve EU charges related to how it displays search results, which critics say favor the company's own services over those of its competitors.

European officials have been examining Google's mobile operating system independently of its search results probe, EU competition chief Joaquin Almunia told The New York Times today, declining to comment further on the new investigation.

The new complaint was filed by Fairsearch Europe, a group of companies that includes Microsoft, Nokia, and Oracle. The group accuses Google of using Android "as a deceptive way to build advantages for key Google apps in 70 percent of the smartphones shipped today," Thomas Vinje, the lead lawyer for Fairsearch Europe, told the Times.

Google's share of the smartphone OS market grew to 70.1 percent by units shipped in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with 52.9 percent during the fourth quarter of 2011, according to recent data from market researcher IDC.

"Google is writing rules that govern the mobile ecosystem -- from app developers, device makers, mobile payment enablers, network operators, and of course, advertisers -- to favor Google," Fairsearch wrote in a blog post last month. "Google's emerging mobile monopoly has the power to shape consumers' mobile Internet experience, and not necessarily for the better."

Google responded to the charges by saying it was cooperating with the EU's investigation.

"We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission," A Google representative said.

The search behemoth, which was put under the European antitrust spotlight in 2010 after rivals lodged allegations of anticompetitive behavior, has made overtures to settle the ongoing EU probe. Almunia told the Times that Google has recently submitted proposals he hoped would help consumers better identify when Google was promoting its own products over those of competitors.

 

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