An investigation opened up in April by the European Commission (EC) into Google’s Android mobile operating system is “high priority” for EU regulators, Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition chief, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview.
The probe also deals with applications and services for smartphones and tablets breaching EU antitrust rules.
Vestager (pictured) said the EU is “actively pursuing” Google’s parent company Alphabet on several fronts, not just the Android OS, such as contracts with advertisers.
“I do not think of it as one Google case but literally as different investigations and different cases,” she said. “What they have in common is that the name Google appears in each one, but apart from that they are very different.”
Google also came under fire in April for skewing results to favour its comparison-shopping service.
With regards to the Android probe, Vestager said “It is a different creature than the [shopping] case because people don’t think so much about the operating system on their phone,” but phone producers and app developers are very concerned.
“The shopping case may have similarities when we eventually look at maps and travel and a number of other related services, because the complaints sort of tell the same story… But there is no such thing as you have done one, you’ve done them all. You can’t do that,” she added.
Google is under regulatory pressure elsewhere too. Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service said Google must change its contracts with handset vendors by 18 November, while the US Federal Trade Commission is probing its Android activities.
Last week, it was reported that Deutsche Telekom is set to file a formal complaint with the EC providing information and evidence on why Google’s actions are anti-competitive.
Regarding Telenor and TeliaSonera’s failed plans to merge their Danish operations, having been unable to accommodate the EC’s demand for a fourth operator, Vestager said the European market is already “quite consolidated”.
“The four biggest providers serve 60 per cent of the subscribers. That, at least for me, is contrary to what I sometimes hear, that you have hundreds and hundreds of operators in Europe and now we must consolidate in order to have a more solid, orderly market,” she said.