Google's Android practices may be illegal in EU

Richard Edwards/Ovum
20 Apr 2015

At OFC 2015, Avago Technologies, a leading supplier of optical components based in San Jose, California, and Singapore, demonstrated the use of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) in links longer than 100m at 100G, bucking the trend of the demise of multimode fiber in data centers due to shortening distances as data rates increase.

The European Commission has instigated an antitrust investigation into Google relating to the company’s Android business practices. The action taken by the Commission follows a preliminary investigation conducted of its own volition, which suggests that there is evidence to indicate that Google may well have abused its dominant position in the mobile market and hindered fair competition within the European Union.

The European Commission clearly thinks that Google’s tight control of the Android ecosystem stifles competition and harms consumers. Announcing the formal investigation into Google’s Android business practices, the Commissioner in charge of competition policy, Margrethe Vestager, said: “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 anticompletive constraints imposed by any company.”

The sentiment of the Commission’s statement brought about a sense of déjà vu, as a decade ago Microsoft fell foul of competition law within the EU when it was adjudged to have wielded its monopolistic powers illegally.

As a result, Microsoft had to change the way it bundled its products, licensed the Windows operating system, and conducted business in the region. If a precedent has been set, then Google may have to unbundle some of its key services, such as Chrome, Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Docs, and provide consumers with more choice, just as Microsoft was forced to do in the desktop era.

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