BRUSSELS – The European Union is broadening its battle with Google, alleging that the technology giant rigs the global market for mobile apps by making sure its Android operating system gives preferential treatment to its own products.
EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Wednesday that “Google’s behaviour denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and standings in the way of innovation.”
Vestager kicked off what is likely to be a protracted legal battle with a so-called Statement of Objections accusing Google it uses its high market share in mobile operating software to force its own apps on customers.
The Android operating system is designed to automatically feature Google’s search engine, maps, Gmail, YouTube video service and other products that give the company more opportunities to sell digital ads. Device makers don’t have to use Android as Google wants it to be, but European regulators are looking into complaints that the company penalizes those that deviate from its Google-centric design.
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The 28-nation EU also has other investigations against Google, with the biggest centring on its search services.
As an indication how massive the latest issue is, four out of every five smartphones and tablets globally, and in the European market, use Android. Google has stormed the market since it began eight years ago to give away its Android software for free to manufacturers try to counter the runaway success of Apple’s iPhone.
Now, Android powers billions of mobile devices, largely because it doesn’t cost phone and tablet makers anything to use the software.
“Dominant companies have a responsibility not to abuse their position,” said Vestager. “Google has abused its dominant position.”
Google is based in Mountain View, California, and is owned by Alphabet Inc.