EU’s antitrust probe into Google homes in on preloaded apps

EU’s antitrust probe into Google homes in on preloaded apps

Published: Apr 18, 2016 8:26 a.m. ET

Regulators are closely investigating Google’s demand to preload apps on Android phones

By NATALIA DROZDIAK

The European Union’s competition chief on Monday said she was closely investigating whether Alphabet Inc.’s Google was shutting out rivals in its Android operating-system contracts with phone makers and telecom operators, suggesting that likely impending formal antitrust charges would center around the U.S. tech giant’s demand that phone makers preload a folder of its own apps.

European Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager opened a formal probe into Google’s conduct with its Android operating system last April, when she also filed separate formal charges against the company for allegedly skewing its search results to favor its own shopping service.

“Our concern is that, by requiring phone makers and operators to preload a set of Google apps, rather than letting them decide for themselves which apps to load, Google might have cut off one of the main ways that new apps can reach customers,” she said.

“Anyone can use Android with or without Google applications,” a Google spokesman said. “Hardware manufacturers and carriers can decide how to use Android and consumers have the last word about which apps they want to use on their devices.”

If phone makers want to install any Google applications, Google requires them to pre-install a folder of 11 apps within one flick of the home screen.


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