Two antitrust investigations into Google’s conduct launched by the European Commission

Google is under a double investigation launched by the European Commmision.
The first one has been started in november 2010 and is related to the internet search services. According to the Commission, Google has allegedly « abused its dominant position in the markets for general internet search services in the European Economic Area (EEA) by systematically favouring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages. »
On the 15th April, European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to Google in which the Commission says that such conduct infringes EU antitrust rules because it stifles competition and harms consumers.
The outcomes of the investigation are however not known yet. Google has ten weeks to respond to the Statement of Objections.
If the Commission is not convinced with the answer, the case will be heard before the Court of Justice.

The second investigation focusing Google’s conduct is related to Android and was launched on the 15th April.
The majority of smartphone and tablet manufacturers use the Android operating system in combination with a range of Google’s proprietary applications and services. These manufacturers enter into agreements with Google to obtain the right to install Google’s applications on their Android devices. The Commission’s in-depth investigation will focus on whether Google has breached EU antitrust rules by hindering the development and market access of rival mobile operating systems, applications and services to the detriment of consumers and developers of innovative services and products.

More precisely, the investigation is about to answer three issues related to articles 101 and 102 TFEU1 :
– whether Google has illegally hindered the development and market access of rival mobile applications or services by requiring or incentivising smartphone and tablet manufacturers to exclusively pre-install Google’s own applications or services;
– whether Google has prevented smartphone and tablet manufacturers who wish to install Google’s applications and services on some of their Android devices from developing and marketing modified and potentially competing versions of Android (so-called “Android forks”) on other devices, thereby illegally hindering the development and market access of rival mobile operating systems and mobile applications or services;
– whether Google has illegally hindered the development and market access of rival applications and services by tying or bundling certain Google applications and services distributed on Android devices with other Google applications, services and/or application programming interfaces of Google.

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