The Stack Archive

Google responds to EU antitrust claims in Android blog post

Wed 15 Apr 2015

Earlier today the European Union released a Statement of Objection against Google, asserting that the search giant’s dominance violating antitrust rules and Android products hindering equal opportunities for market access among its rivals.

Google has now released an official blog post in response to the Commission’s proposed investigation. Regarding its Android devices, Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of Engineering at Android writes:

“The European Commission has asked questions about our partner agreements. It’s important to remember that these are voluntary—again, you can use Android without Google—but provide real benefits to Android users, developers and the broader ecosystem.

“Anti-fragmentation agreements, for example, ensure apps work across all sorts of different Android devices. (After all, it would be pretty frustrating if an app you downloaded on one phone didn’t also work on your eventual replacement phone.) And our app distribution agreements make sure that people get a great “out of the box” experience with useful apps right there on the home screen (how many of us could get through our day without maps or email?). This also helps manufacturers of Android devices compete with Apple, Microsoft and other mobile ecosystems that come preloaded with similar baseline apps. And remember that these distribution agreements are not exclusive, and Android manufacturers install their own apps and apps from other companies as well. And in comparison to Apple—the world’s most profitable (mobile) phone company—there are far fewer Google apps pre-installed on Android phones than Apple apps on iOS devices.”

There has long been criticism surrounding Google’s conduct in tying its apps and services into Android, making it difficult for others to gain a foothold in the market. A simplified version of the operating system (ASOP) is available which does not feature Google products; however lock-in remains an issue with developers not able to replace certain applications, Google Maps with HERE for example.

Even some well-known versions of Android, which do not rely entirely on Google apps and services including Amazon Fire and Yandex platforms, have involved significant developer work to avoid the tie-in.

Concluding his statement on the Google blog, Lockheimer added: “We are thankful for Android’s success and we understand that with success comes scrutiny. But it’s not just Google that has benefited from Android’s success. The Android model has let manufacturers compete on their unique innovations. Developers can reach huge audiences and build strong businesses. And consumers now have unprecedented choice at ever-lower prices. We look forward to discussing these issues in more detail with the European Commission over the months ahead.”


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