On 20 April 2016 the European Commission informed Alphabet of its preliminary view that Google has abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators. The Commission’s statement of objections comes on top of the separate and ongoing case that Google would be abusing its dominance of online search to promote its own shopping services unfairly.
Globally more than 80% of smartphones use Android’s opensource system. Google is also dominant in the markets for general internet search services, licensable smart mobile operating systems and app stores for the Android mobile operating system. The Commission's concerns focus on three aspects.
- Google’s licensing terms oblige manufacturers, for example, who wish to pre-install Google’s app store for Android and Play Store on their devices to also pre-install Google Search. In addition Google demands that those manufacturers set Google Search as the default search provider on those devices. The Commission seeks to ensure that manufacturers are free to choose which apps they pre-install on their devices.
- Google would also prevent competition through modified versions of Android, called “Android forks”. The Commission has found evidence that Google’s conduct prevented manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices based on a competing Android fork which had the potential of becoming a credible alternative to the Google Android operating system.
- Google has granted significant financial incentives to some of the largest smartphone and tablet manufacturers as well as mobile network operators. The Commission takes issue with the conditions associated with Google’s incentives, in particular that the financial incentive is not paid if any search provider other than Google Search is pre-installed on smart mobile devices.