Google could be in hot water with the European Union's antitrust body over its Android operating system. Antitrust regulators in Europe this week received an official complaint regarding Google and its mobile OS from FairSearch Europe. FairSearch is a group of businesses and organizations that promotes a level playing field when it comes to competition in online and mobile search. Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle, TripAdvisor, Kayak and Hotwire are all members of FairSearch. Today, the European arm of this organization released a statement detailing a complaint it made about Google to the European Union.
FairSearch argues that Google is using "deceptive conduct" to lockout the competition in the mobile search market. With 70 percent of the smartphone OS market, Google commands 96 percent of the mobile search advertising market. Except, according to FairSearch, the search giant isn't playing fair. FairSearch's complaint says that though Google gives Android to device makers for free, phone makers that want apps like Maps, or YouTube are forced to 'pre-load an entire suite of Google mobile services and to give them prominent default placement on the phone.' FairSearch says this puts other providers at a disadvantage and puts Android in control of consumer data on the majority of today's smartphones.
"Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a 'Trojan Horse' to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data," said Thomas Vinje on behalf of the FairSearch coalition. "We are asking the Commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market. Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system."
The EU is already investigating Google's practices in the search market. More than likely, Google doesn't want another antitrust investigation on its hands. However, the New York Times spoke to EU antitrust chief, Joaquín Almunia, who says the EU has been 'examining' Android independent of the desktop search inquiry. With this formal complaint from FairSearch, NYT reports that the EU will have to make a decision on whether or not it wants to pursue the case or drop it altogether.