Comment on Google’s response to European Commission charges on Android

Statement by Thomas Vinje, counsel to FairSearch

CEPIC is a member of FairSearch

10 November 2016 – The European Commission’s case against Google is vital for consumers, because four out of five smart phones sold today run on Android, and Google is abusing its dominance to prevent competition and innovation in mobile markets. People spend more time searching on mobile devices than they spend on laptops or desktops, and the trend is accelerating. The European Commission must pursue its case to a conclusion, and require Google to change its behavior, so consumers can benefit from the resulting innovation emerging from a competitive marketplace for search, browsers, and everything else on a smart phone.

Google says there’s no problem because Android is “open”.  The truth is that Android is today a closed operating system, and any claim to the contrary is disingenuous.  Any manufacturer or network operator seeking to differentiate its devices or services is prevented from doing so by the web of Google’s contractual restrictions the European Commission says is illegal.  Google imposes severe sanctions on those who defy its insistence on conformity.  For example, a phone maker that offers even a few phones that do not comply with Google’s straightjacket faces a cut-off from all of Google’s branded products.

This is a problem that law enforcement can solve, by acting to bring Google into compliance with competition law.  Consumers would then benefit from genuine competition in the Android sphere, including by seeing innovative devices and services that today cannot emerge because of the straightjacket Google imposes on the market.

FairSearch thus supports the European Commission’s effort to require undistorted competition, by stopping Google from imposing unreasonable and illegal restrictions on phone makers, phone companies, and start-ups. For the benefit of consumers, the European Commission should take this case to a conclusion and find Google liable for violating Europe’s antitrust laws.

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