Google and Android May Be In Trouble With The EU

Google have been accused by the European Union’s anti-trust authorities of abusing their market dominance in online search following a five year investigation. They are also starting to open a market-abuse investigation into the Android mobile operating system.

The EU have claimed that Google have abused their dominance in search to provide undue prominence search results to their own Google Shopping. The Commission said, “it may therefore artificially divert traffic from rival comparison shopping services and hinder their ability to compete on the market. The commission is concerned that users do not necessarily see the most relevant results in response to queries – this is to the detriment of consumers, and stifles innovation.”

The Statement of Objections has focused on the ranking and display of search results. They said that the EU will investigate companies under EU laws, no matter where they are in the world.

Vestager said, “the Commission’s objective is to apply EU anti-trust rules to ensure that companies operating in Europe, wherever they may be based, don’t artificially deny European consumers as wide a choice as possible or stifle innovation. In the case of Google I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping services, in breach of EU anti-trust rules. Google now has the opportunity to convince the Commission to the contrary. However, if the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe. I have also launched a formal anti-trust investigation of Google’s conduct concerning mobile operating systems, apps, and services. Smartphones, tablets, and similar devices play an increasing role in many people’s daily lives and I want to make sure the markets in this area can flourish without anti-competitive constraints imposed by any company.”

Google have responded publicly to the news rejecting the allegations. “We have a very strong case, with especially good arguments when it comes to better services for users and increased competition. The competition is just one click away – and it’s growing. People can use Bing, Yahoo, Quora, DuckDuckGo, and a new wave of search assistants like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, as well as more specialized services likes Amazon, Idealo, Le Guide, Expedia, or eBay. In addition, users increasingly turn to social networks like Facebook or Twitter to find news and suggestions – where to eat or what movies to watch. Mobile is changing everything – with the explosion of apps taking people directly to the information they want. Today 7 out of every 8 minutes on mobile devices is spent within apps. Yelp, for example, has said that over 40% of its traffic comes direct from the mobile app.”

Unfortunately for Google, due to the length of these investigations, which will go on for years, the fines will be at least €5 billion.