Microsoft, Nokia blast 'deceptive' Google in Android protest

Microsoft and Nokia are complaining to EU watchdogs that Google is using Android to carve a monopoly on smart phones and tablets.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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 Microsoft and Nokia have fired a new broadside against rival Google, complaining to European industry watchdogs that the big G is using Android to carve out an unfair monopoly on smart phones and tablets.

Microsoft and Windows Phone buddy Nokia are among 17 technology companies under the banner FairSearch complaining to the European Commission about Google's dominance of the search market, and are expanding that to cover smart phone software and apps.

Microsoft and friends argue that by offering Android for free or at low cost, Google is unfairly shoehorning its apps and services -- like YouTube and Google maps -- into a majority of phones and tablets.


FairSearch call Android a "Trojan horse", enticing manufacturers to put Google services front and centre on the latest smart phones. The group has even gone so fast as to say Google's practices are "predatory" and "deceptive", and make it impossible for rivals to compete with their own software, such as Windows Phone.

"Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance", says FairSearch, in reference to accusations that Google search results rank the big G's services higher. Despite US regulators failing to take decisive action on that issue, EU watchdogs are likely to force Google to change the way search results are presented.

Google certainly owns a huge slice of the markets in question: it owns 96 per cent of mobile search, and Android is on 70 per cent of phones built these days.

"We continue to work co-operatively with the European Commission," says Google. 

Oh, the irony 

If the prospect of Microsoft being involved with European competition regulators sounds familiar, it's because Microsoft has more than once been on the receiving end of exactly the kind of complaint it's now levelling at Google. Gates' mates have been hit with a succession of multi-million pound fines for abusing the desktop monopoly of Windows, culminating in a recent £486m penalty for failing to offer a range of web browsers in Windows 7

Meanwhile Google is also in trouble over its common user privacy policy, which has prompted UK and European data protection agencies to threaten legal action. Google has four months to bring its privacy policies into line or face a jolly stiff talking-to.

Is Google unfairly dominating the phone world with Android, or is this a case of sour grapes from rivals who can't offer a decent alternative? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.