Google has announced on March 19th, through a blog post by their SVP of global affairs Kent Walker, that they intend to “do more to ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available.” This probably means they are going to present users with a browser-ballot, similar to the one the European Commission imposed on Microsoft in 2009. The similarities with Microsoft do not stop there. Here is what to expect:
We could have a ballot on Android as the one Windows 7 had
Just like Microsoft’s, Google’s relationship with the European Union is a difficult one. As early as last year Google was fined by the EU a record 4.34 billion Euro for illegal practices. They violated antitrust rules regarding Android mobile devices, to strengthen the dominance of Google’s search engine. What does this mean? The European Commission, which is an institution of the EU in charge of upholding rules, investigated Google and decided they were abusing their dominant market position by restricting competition. Just like, you guessed it, Microsoft did with Windows. As a result, if you live in Europe, you might unlock your smartphone one day to find the option to choose a new browser and a new search engine instead of the default Google Chrome browser, and the Google search engine.
The European Commission has determined that most people use their preinstalled search engine. This measure might force users to make a documented search and open the door to other companies and developers, giving them a fighting chance in spite of Google’s growing empire. Imagine having a mobile version of Microsoft’s browser ballot from Windows 7, this time on all Android smartphones sold in Europe.
Wait… there’s more to Google’s love and hate relationship with the European Union
The bad news for Google does not stop there: Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy (and probably the person Google perceives as their archnemesis), announced on March 20th, another fine for Google of €1.49 billion. This time it is for breaching antitrust laws related to the “illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market for the brokering of online search adverts.”
This makes one wonder about the final statement from Kent Walker’s blog post and Google’s intentions to “demonstrate (…) continued commitment to operating in an open and principled way.”
What do you think of the conflict between Google and the EU? Will an Android browser and search engine ballot lower Google’s dominance?
What do you think about this conflict between Google and the EU? As one expert commented in this older news article, “The EU stance is arguably six to eight years too late. Android has already helped establish Google apps and services as essentials for consumers in the Western World. While the separation of apps from the operating system may help foster competition over the longer term, manufacturers will continue to need to offer Google services to be competitive and address consumer demand.” What do you think? Is it too little, too late? Do you see this change as having a positive impact? Comment below and let’s discuss.