EU Android Antitrust Probe ‘Advancing’

Europe’s antitrust chief has sought to ward off criticism over the length of time it is taking to investigate Google’s Android operating system and its AdSense advertising service.

Google has been facing antitrust trouble in Europe over Android, ever since rivals including FairSearch, Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle filed their initial complaints way back in 2013.

But the official EU antitrust investigation only began in April 2015, and in 2016 it was reported that the EU competition boss planned to levy a large fine against Google and would order it to stop giving revenue-sharing payments to smartphone makers to pre-install only Google Search.

Investigation status

But three years after the investigation first began, and five years after the initial complaint, there seems to be no more movement on the issue, and the European Commission has yet to rule on either case.

The EU had been expected to tell Google to stop requiring the Chrome browser and other apps to be installed alongside Google’s Play store.

In the AdSense case, Google is accused of blocking rivals in online search advertising in 2016.

However now Europe’s antitrust chief was quoted by Reuters as saying on Wednesday, that its Android and AdSense investigation is ‘advancing’.

“We are advancing on our two cases involving Google, both the Android case and the AdSense case,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager was quoted as telling EU lawmakers.

“Five years in the Google case seems an eternity,” lawmaker Ramon Tremosa said. And in a statement echoing some of Google’s rivals, he urged Vestager to break up the company (a highly unlikely outcome).

Financial penalty

Vestager has the power to penalise companies up to 10 percent of their global turnover.

She handed down a record €2.4 billion (£2.18bn) fine in June 2017 to Alphabet for squeezing out rivals of its shopping service.

It should be noted however, that Google is currently appealing that decision.

Google is no stranger to tackling antitrust woes.

In April 2017 for example, it came to a settlement with Russia over the use of default search engines in Android devices.

Quiz: How much do you know about Google and Alphabet?

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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