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The European Commission investigates Google over antitrust laws

GoogleGoogle’s Android mobile OS comes with a wide range of phones across Europe, and it now has the European Commission investigating it on claims of unfair app bundling. There are apps that commonly come with Android OS phones, such as YouTube, Maps and Chrome, and this could find Google in breach of antitrust laws. The claim is their pre-install apps give the company an unfair advantage with consumer products.

The European Commission has previously looked into Google’s privacy policies. It has questioned whether Google’s market share of the mobile industry hampers development and research into apps and mobile development. “The investigation will focus on whether Google has entered into anti-competitive agreements or abused a possible dominant position in the field of operating systems, applications and services for smart mobile devices,” says the Commission.

Google claims that its Android OS is open sourced software, meaning that anyone can change how the OS works. It is not in question on whether or not development has happened due to the policies Google has in place. But it is whether or not there could have been more development and competition had Google not placed its own apps in so many smartphones. Google has an 81.5% market share in mobile devices using their OS.

Android seems to force people to sign up to Google when using their smart phone. It may give an option to not sign into a Google account, but the functionality of apps is greatly lessened. It is a question of whether Google’s openness is a cynical ploy to maintain an image of being different. Google claim that Android is open to development, but it is a possibility the content of their contracts may make it otherwise. Members of the Open Handset Alliance aren’t able to design different variations of Android OS and aren’t able to access certain APIs from Google’s Play Services.

The defense Google has put forward is that its anti-fragmentation agreements are there to make sure people get the same experience from the beginning. It also claims there are fewer pre-install apps on Android OS than Apple’s iOS. This depends on what smart phone manufacturer, as some Android phones come with a range of unneeded apps that bloat the system. The anti-fragmentation agreements are claimed to help users be able to get a new device and use it in the same way as they did their last device. Does this agreement stop developers from going out on their own to create something new? Does the anti-fragmentation agreement mean that developers are essentially stuck one system? Are phone manufacturers forced to us Android as an OS due to Google not allowing anything competition?

Source: EU, Google

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