EU quizzes telecom firms, handset makers on Google's Android

BRUSSELS Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:20pm EDT

Android mascots are lined up in the demonstration area at the Google I/O Developers Conference in the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California, May 10, 2011. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

Android mascots are lined up in the demonstration area at the Google I/O Developers Conference in the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California, May 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Beck Diefenbach

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators are asking mobile telecoms operators and handset makers if their Android deals with Google block rivals in mobile telephony, a move that could lead to a second investigation into the company.

Google is already seeking to settle a three-year probe into complaints it squeezed out online search rivals. The Internet search company has offered concessions including labeling its products in search results and providing links to competing sites. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has said he will likely ask for more.

The EU regulators' latest action was prompted by complaints, including from Microsoft and Nokia, to the European Commission in April that accused Google of using its Android operating system for smartphones to divert traffic to its search engine.

Android is widely used in smartphones and tablets, with a 60 percent global market share compared to Apple's 19 percent, according to consultancy Canalys.

The Commission asked telecoms providers and handset makers whether the Android agreements with Google "contain clauses preventing or limiting you from launching/distributing non-Android devices," according to a questionnaire seen by Reuters.

The EU competition authority also wanted to know if there were restrictions for Android devices that did not meet Google's compatibility requirements.

Regulators asked if Google-branded Android devices could be shipped with mobile services that compete with the Internet search engine's own mobile services.

Google spokesman Al Verney said: "Android is an open platform that fosters competition. Handset makers, carriers and consumers can decide how to use Android, including which applications they want to use."

Respondents have until July 26 to reply to the list of 82 questions, which could determine whether the Commission will open a new investigation into the world's most popular Internet search engine.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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Comments (3)
stfual wrote:
Does anyone know what “Android is an open platform” means. It appears to be spyware built on malware and i paid nearly $1000 for my phone so its hardly free and i can’t load any other OS. Open to who? The NSA?

Jun 14, 2013 1:32pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
p_025 wrote:
“The regulators’ latest action was prompted by complaints [...] to the European Commission that accused Google of using its Android operating system for smartphones to divert traffic to its search engine.”

I don’t see exactly how that is a crime. It’s their software, they’re free to use it to let people Google search. I’m not sure what exactly the word “divert” entails here, if it’s without the user’s consent then it probably isn’t cool.

Jun 14, 2013 1:32pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ciph3ro wrote:
Yes, we want our Android phones to go straight to and only to Google. Plus only Google has the complex infrastructure and the necessary neural network processing to interpret voice data and to scan emails ahead of time to give you all those useful features in Google Now for example.

I don’t want Bing or Yahoo. I haven’t used those in years and honestly it would not affect me much if they died altogether.

I agree though that Android devices should be able to be shipped with mobile services that compete with Google’s own. It’s Android, it should be open-source and open-minded. I really doubt any users would want any other search engine than Google on their Android phone however. In my opinion it defeats the purpose of having this OS.

Jun 14, 2013 2:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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