Google—as expected—has dismissed the European Commission’s charge that the ad giant abused Android’s dominance to block its competitors in the market.
The company is accused of using Android’s position as the dominant smartphone operating system in Europe to force manufacturers to pre-install Google services while locking out competitors.
Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager sent a so-called Statement of Objections to Google in April.
On Thursday, the multinational corporation defended its position and spoke of the open source nature of the Android operating system. It also compared a typical Android smartphone to rivals Apple and Microsoft. According to Google, 39 out of 39 pre-installed apps are from Apple on iPhone 7, and 39 out of 47 pre-installed apps on the Microsoft Lumia 550 are from Microsoft.
In a blog post on Thursday, Google general counsel Kent Walker said: “The response we filed today shows how the Android ecosystem carefully balances the interests of users, developers, hardware makers, and mobile network operators. Android hasn’t hurt competition, it’s expanded it.”
The 100-plus page response to the commission focuses on metrics in an attempt to add weight to the claim that it hasn’t abused any competitive advantage. Walker said:
The commission’s case is based on the idea that Android doesn’t compete with Apple’s iOS. We don’t see it that way. In fact, 89 percent of respondents to the commission’s own market survey confirmed that Android and Apple compete. To ignore competition with Apple is to miss the defining feature of today’s competitive smartphone landscape.
Walker claimed that possible remedies to resolve the case could create fragmentation in the mobile ecosystem. “The commission’s preliminary findings underestimate the importance of developers,” he said. Walker continued:
The commission argues that we shouldn’t offer some Google apps as part of a suite. No manufacturer is obliged to preload any Google apps on an Android phone. But we do offer manufacturers a suite of apps so that when you buy a new phone, you can access a familiar set of basic services. Android’s competitors, including Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows phone, not only do the same, but they allow much less choice.
Vestager can fine the search behemoth up to 10 percent of its global turnover—around $7.4 billion (£5.9 billion)—if she finds Google guilty of wrongdoing.
Google is currently appealing against a similar case in Russia after authorities fined the company approximately 438 million rubles ($6.8 million, £5.25 million) in an almost identical Android antitrust case earlier this year.
Yandex, Russia’s biggest search engine and the main complainant in that case, is also one of four complainants in the EU case. Google rivals Microsoft, Nokia, and Oracle—under the Fairsearch umbrella organisation—lodged the first complaint against Android in 2013.
Fairsearch said in a statement to Ars:
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.
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 straitjacket faces a cut-off from all of Google’s branded products.
US ad-blocking firm Disconnect and Aptoide, a rival Portuguese Android app store, have also complained. None had responded to requests for comment from Ars at time of publication.
Google separately faces antitrust charges on favouring its own search services and price comparison offerings over those of its rivals and for allegedly breaching competition rules with its mammoth ad business.
Last week, Google rebuffed both of those charges.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK