'Android is a below-cost trojan horse': Nokia, Microsoft, Oracle take Google complaint to EU

Europe's competition commissioner says it was already looking into Android's position.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on

A European search lobby whose members include Nokia, Microsoft and Oracle have filed a complaint with Europe's competition regulator accusing Google of running an anticompetitive Android strategy.

The complaint was filed by Fairsearch.org, which besides the three tech giants, include Google's vertical search rivals such as Kayak, TripAdvisor, Hotwire and Expedia among others.

Fairsearch accuses Google of distributing Android at below-cost, making it difficult for rivals to compete with its mobile platform, which accounted for 70 percent of smartphones shipped in 2012.

While Android is free for device makers, these manufacturers must include Google apps such as YouTube or its Play store  and preload Google mobile services to give them prominent default placement on the phone, according to the complaint.

"Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a 'trojan horse' to deceive partners, monopolise the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data," said Thomas Vinje, Brussels-based counsel to the FairSearch coalition.

"We are asking the Commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market. Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system."

The new Android complaint comes as Europe continues negotiations with Google over how it treats and labels its own services, which stems from an inquiry into Google's dominant position in search that was opened in November 2010.

Google submitted a proposal to address these issues last month, but it appears whatever it contained did not meet demands by Europe's competition chief Joaquín Almunia.

Almunia told the New York Times he expected to receive new proposals this week from Google that he hoped would make it clearer for users to see when Google was promoting its own services over rivals on both mobile and desktop search.

According to the Times, Almunia said Europe would not demand Google change its search algorithm, but said it may ask Google to "signal what are the relevant options, alternative options, in the way they present the results", adding that the choice "should be a real one".

Almunia declined to comment on the new complaint, but said the commission had already been looking into Android separate to the broader search inquiry from 2010.

"We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission," Google said in a statement.

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