FairSearch: Google using Android to monopolize mobile marketplace, control consumer data

FairSearch backed by Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle, among others

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) uses its Android operating system as a "Trojan Horse" to engage in anti-competitive behavior in the mobile marketplace, argued a complaint by FairSearch.org filed on Tuesday with the European Commission.

FairSearch is backed by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL), Expedia and TripAdvisor.

The complaint charged that Google uses its dominance in the mobile OS and mobile search advertising markets to lock out competition in the mobile marketplace, FairSearch explained in a release.  

According to the stats from IDC and Gartner, Android controlled close to 70 percent of the mobile OS market in the fourth quarter of 2012. In addition, Google controls 56 percent of the mobile ad market and 96 percent of the mobile search ad segment, according to stats compiled by eMarketer and quoted by Forbes.

"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, Brussels-based counsel to the FairSearch coalition.

FairSearch argued that Google supplies its Android OS to device makers for "free," but then requires them to pre-load an entire suite of Google mobile services in a prominent position on the phone in order to get access to major Google apps such as Maps, YouTube or Play.

"Google's predatory distribution of Android at below-cost makes it difficult for other providers of operating systems to recoup investments in competing with Google's dominant mobile platform," the group argued.

Geoff Blaber, an analyst with CCS Insight, told InfoWorld that Google should expect more legal challenges to its practices. "We do increasingly see the likelihood of challenges related to the bundling of services on Android and other platforms. Obviously we have seen that on the desktop with Microsoft and Internet Explorer, and the exact same concerns are going be voiced in the mobile space," Blaber said.

Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the European Commission, told the Wall Street Journal that "The Android situation and competition in that market more broadly, really require analysis."

In response to the FairSearch complaint, Google told InfoWorld, "we continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission," but declined to comment on the specific allegations.

For more:
- read FairSearch's release
- check out the InfoWorld article
- read the Wall Street Journal article

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