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Google’s EU antitrust nightmare is just getting started

Published Apr 15th, 2015 6:50AM EDT
Google Search and Android Antitrust

The European Union is taking its probe into Google’s search practices to new heights, Bloomberg reports, bringing antitrust charges against the company after four years of investigations. The two parties tried and failed to settle the matter three times in the previous years, and now the European Commission is moving to the next step. Furthermore, on top of looking for clear answers from Google on the Search side, the European Commission will also investigate its Android-related business practices.

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The Commission sent a statement of objections to Google, which explain where the EU believes Google is breaking the law, and Google has 10 weeks to respond.

The Search giant is facing potential fines, but also demands to modify its search algorithms in the region, which may impact its ad-based bottom line in the future.

The EU says that Google favors its own products above rivals, and wants to know whether the company is abusing its position when licensing Android to smartphone and tablet makers by forcing them to use Google services and prevent them from using modified Android versions.

“If the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told the publication. “I want to make sure the markets in this area can flourish without anti-competitive constraints imposed by any company.”

The European market brings in some 35% of Google’s revenue, and its market share exceeds 90% in most European markets, compared to just 65% in the U.S., Bloomberg says, according to data from Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

Google believes it has a strong defense against the EU “with especially good arguments when it comes to better services for users and increased competition,” a leaked memo reveals.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.