EU antitrust authorities investigate Android licensing
The Financial Times reports that it has access to documents indicating that the EU Commission is investigating the licensing practices for the Android mobile operating system. According to the documents, Google is offering Android below the usual market prices. The report also says that the company has been signing exclusive contracts with smartphone manufacturers related to the factory installation of Google's mobile services. Reportedly, competitors have accused Google of exploiting its dominant market position to achieve this.
Among the companies that have raised the issue with the EU Commission are Microsoft and Nokia. According to the newspaper, the investigation is still in its early stages; this means that device manufacturers and mobile telephony providers will initially be asked to answer 82 questions posed by the EU Commission.
Google argues that Android is an open platform that promotes competition. The company says that device manufacturers, mobile telephony providers and consumers themselves can decide how to use Android and which applications to install. In the first quarter of 2013, Android had a global market share of 75 per cent, with Apple's iOS claiming 17 per cent and Windows Phone 3 per cent.
It remains unclear whether the complaints mentioned by the Financial Times are the same ones that were reported in early April. Back then, the Fairsearch Europe organisation, which includes members such as Nokia, Microsoft and Oracle, had accused Google of using Android to provide Google's applications with an unfair advantage on the majority of currently sold smartphones.
The EU's antitrust watchdogs are also investigating Google's practices in another matter. They have accused the company of giving preference to its own services over those of its competitors when displaying search results. At the end of May, the EU Commission requested that Google comply with further conditions to avoid a billion-euro fine.