Google could beat an anti-trust charge in the U.S., but still lose out in the EU

Google could beat an anti-trust charge in the U.S., but still lose out in the EU
Last September, the FTC started investigating whether Google was taking advantage of Android's position as the leading operating system in the smartphone market. This took place on the heels of an investigation conducted by the EU. The latter was looking into Google's propensity to bundle apps like YouTube, Google Maps and Google Chrome on Android. European regulators were worried that Google was forcing handset manufacturers to pre-install the entire bundle of Google apps, preventing rival developers from getting real estate on Android handsets.

Now, according to today's Wall Street Journal, the FTC is expanding its U.S. based investigation by requesting data and information from a pair of unnamed companies. Despite broadening the investigation, those familiar with the situation say that the government has not yet decided whether Google will face legal action.

Because the anti-trust laws in Europe are more in favor of the government, there could be two different outcomes over what is basically the same situation. In the U.S., Google would draw a pass by showing that even if it did demand that phone manufacturers used its apps, the overall effect was to improve the experience of Android users.

The EU last week said that Google was anti-competitive by demanding that any smartphone that has access to the Google Play Store and its multitude of apps, must have Google as its default search engine. Google responded by saying that including Google apps and services on the Android OS helps it continually update Android, and keeps the OS free to manufacturers. While that might help Google beat the rap in the states, it might not do the job in the EU.

source: WSJ

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21 Comments

1. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Google should be nailed in the US as well. I smell a bribe here.

2. TerryTerius unregistered

I'm sure you do. It's going to take months and possibly even a year or two before everything is resolved in the EU, let alone whether or not Google will even be fined. In short, literally nobody knows at this point. The laws in the US and the EU are also different, having two contrasting outcomes wouldn't exactly a surprise. They haven't been "nailed" anywhere. Though frankly, I'm mystified as to why you're so hostile to Google anyway. Even knowing full well your loyalty is with iOS, still doesn't make much sense to me.

12. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

"Though frankly, I'm mystified as to why you're so hostile to Google anyway" You know the stupid Apple haters? He's like them, only on a different side.

13. TerryTerius unregistered

Well, yeah. I guess it's just hard for me to really comprehend why anyone would d*** ride a multibillion dollar company either way. Tribalism is a weird thing.

27. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

Unfortunately, for as far as humanity has come... many of us are still relegated to polarizing Us (good) v. Them (bad) mentalities.

3. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Same thing could be said about Apple and Microsoft. Those are the unnamed companies...

16. hemedans

Posts: 746; Member since: Jun 01, 2013

EU already fine Microsoft for including internet explorer and windows media player in windows os. I was suprised google was not.

18. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Apple has no OEMs, so they cant really deny rival competitors from making it to the handset since well...no other OEM is making the device. They could be fined for business practices, like forcing places to sell apple devices etc...but not much else. MS, they have already been fined. And for a decade were fighting with a hand behind their back.

22. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

OEM excuse dont fit it. They have created a monopole on device running this OS and consummer could greatly profit from having many OEM making ios device as competition would be healty for pricing of ios device.

28. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

Apple however was probed by the EU for their iTunes practices. The probe was dropped when Apple lowered prices. As Google neither charges for Android OS nor access to the Google Play Store most likely charges will be dropped, or like TerryTerius said in post #7, Google will have to allow forked Android versions or unbundle their services. Now, you may bring up Internet Explorer being free... MS may have been giving IE away for free, but Windows was not, so they were directly profiting from monopolization. Wait, was Windows free? Now I can't recall.

30. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

They would do special pricing and other things, it was never totally free. However, Android isn't totally free either to go with Google either. They have been accused of having a non-direct licensing fee. I don't know if it was ever debunked because google doesn't charge it directly, but if you cant get your device GMS certified you cant sell it with google services. That licensing from 3rd party players can cost, cheaper than MS licensing for their patents but at the end of the day if you don't get that license you don't get to sell it. They don't have to charge for the services to get dropped. Currently they are being looked at because of behind the doors shady deals that forced to stop competition. Motorola Maps being one, they threatened to remove the GMS license if they didn't stop using Sky's API and use GMaps instead. And other behind the doors scene. Once more this isn't about the cost of apps, but what has google done to stop competition from even hitting the handset to begin with under the guise of 'doing a service'.

14. tedkord

Posts: 17133; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I'm sure you'd like that. Unfortunately for you, in the US it isn't a crime to put out a better product than Apple. Sorry for your luck.

29. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Lol you wish. Keep dreaming teddy.

4. Tziggy14

Posts: 623; Member since: Sep 02, 2014

Maybe they can beat the case here, but maybe they won't. The US is watching the EU closely and will probably make their decision on the outcome that goes on across the ocean. And Google still have to worry about Russia and India on top of the EU. Either way, this is the year Google's monopoly control of Android over the OEMs is coming to an end.

5. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

While i personally hate bloatware practices, i do think what Google did was fair. Google invested a lot of resources on AOSP (Android Open Source Project) and give it away for free. Their means of making money is with their Cloud services such as Play Store and a bundle of apps. So if OEM wants to deploy Google Cloud Services they should adhere to the Terms and Condition of it. Alternatively, they could forego Google services and put in their own which is what China is doing as a standard. Amazon is another such example. So those companies that brought the lawsuit to Google are just hypocrite. Can they withstand the same scrutiny they themselves brought forth on Google?

19. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

AOSP is also heavily helped by the Open Handset Alliance, 84 companies. Google takes works of others, relies on others, all to make android better...yes. But at the end of the day, they are using their position to help Google. That is what the EU is having issue with. Like when Google approached Motorola, threatened to deny device certification for future phones if they didn't drop their mapping api and instead forced themselves with google maps...lawsuit was filed on behalf of the other mapping service. Or threating to kick out a member of using google services for developing a forked android. These are some of the things they are looking into. Now I don't agree with it all, but if you are using your position to threaten device certification removal because you don't want to use 'maps' as the default app, then there is a problem

23. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Nope i see only 1 problem and no others as long as they dont block the OEM from putting the apps in the phone. Default app on an OS should always at first the one already included in thats OS. Now if they treaten to kick out a member for developping a forked android thats another story thats the only place i have an issue with and if they did it thats wrong and they need to be fined for this but only this.

7. TerryTerius unregistered

Google isn't losing control of android, nor could the EU reasonably claim that the Google store is the same thing as android. Google is most likely going to have to do one of two things. Either drop the requirement that manufactures can't run forked versions of android, or be forced to unbundle its services. The former can absolutely happen, the latter… I'm highly doubtful that will come to pass for a host of reasons. In any case it will take at least the rest of the year for all of this to be worked out in the EU, and most likely very far beyond that.

15. tedkord

Posts: 17133; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

The US will make their decision based on US law. It doesn't matter what the outcome is in Europe, because the EU laws are different.

17. techguyone

Posts: 214; Member since: May 18, 2013

Just make any app be uninstallable, then there's no monopolistic practices plus has the advantage for us of freeing up space on apps we don't want/need

26. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

agreed. Google have a right to make the google app default but all apps should be possible to uninstall at any time including OEM garbage they put in on top of google offering.

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