Google defends Android business as EU opens antitrust proceedings

Search giant "strongly disagrees" with action taken by European Commission
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Google has posted a series of lengthy blog posts defending its business, as the European Commission opens antitrust proceedings against the search giant.

The executive body of the European Union (EU) is looking into both Google's comparison shopping service and Android business.

"The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to Google alleging the company has abused its dominant market position for general search services in the European Economic Area (EEA) by systematically favouring its own comparison shopping product in its search results," the European Commission said in a statement. 

"The Commission has also formally opened a separate antitrust investigation into Google's conduct as regards the mobile operating system Android."

Google has vociferously defended its business.

Firstly, on the Android side, the company's VP of Android engineering Hiroshi Lockheimer, said in a blog post: "The European Commission has asked questions about our partner agreements. It's important to remember that these are voluntary - you can use Android without Google - but provide real benefits to Android users, developers and the broader ecosystem. 

"Anti-fragmentation agreements, for example, ensure apps work across all sorts of different Android devices. This also helps manufacturers of Android devices compete with Apple, Microsoft and other mobile ecosystems that come preloaded with similar baseline apps. These distribution agreements are not exclusive. And in comparison to Apple - the world’s most profitable (mobile) phone company - there are far fewer Google apps pre-installed on Android phones than Apple apps on iOS devices.

"We are thankful for Android’s success and we understand that with success comes scrutiny. But it's not just Google that has benefited from Android's success. The Android model has let manufacturers compete on their unique innovations. Developers can reach huge audiences and build strong businesses. And consumers now have unprecedented choice at ever-lower prices. We look forward to discussing these issues in more detail with the European Commission over the months ahead."

In a separate blog post by Google titled 'The Search for Harm', the firm has posted a series of detailed graphs in an attempt to prove Google is not dominating the market for online search and shopping comparison sites.

Amit Singhal, senior VP for Google Search, said: "In the summer of 2010, Google announced plans to acquire the flight search provider ITA. As we said at the time, while many people buy their airline tickets online, finding the right flight at the best price can be a real hassle. Today Google Flight Search has made that much easier. 

"At the time of the ITA acquisition, several online travel companies - Expedia, Kayak and Travelocity - unsuccessfully lobbied regulators in the US and the European Union to block the deal, arguing that our ability to show flight options directly would siphon off their traffic and harm competition online.

"Four years later it’s clear their allegations of harm turned out to be untrue. As the Washington Post recently pointed out, Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and Travelocity account for 95 per cent of the US online travel market today. It’s a similar situation in Europe.

"While Google may be the most used search engine, people can now find and access information in numerous different ways - and allegations of harm, for consumers and competitors, have proved to be wide of the mark.

"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."

Image source: Shutterstock

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