Google may face anti-trust charges over dumping Android on the market

google-monopolyThe Guardian reports that Google is being threatened by "perfect storm" of litigation. Besides their previously reported problems related to their search dominance the European Commission is now also investigating them for predatory pricing regarding their Android operating system.

According to the Guardian the EC is considering whether Google’s Android mobile operating system needs to be regulated as it becomes increasingly dominant in mobile search and advertising. Rivals allege that the software, which is provided to handset makers for free, constitutes illegal predatory pricing intended to drive rivals out of the market.

In the third quarter of this year, Android devices made up 75% of smartphone shipments – though many of those were to the Chinese market.

The concern in Europe is that making Android free to handset makers constitutes a form of predatory pricing, said David Wood, a lawyer at Gibson Dunn who also advises Icomp, a lobbying group funded by Microsoft, which opposes Google’s search dominance. "If you never expect to get the money you put into something back, then it’s essentially a gift, commercially speaking," Wood said. "But if there’s intent to recoup the cost, then behaviour relying on its cost to drive others out could be construed as predatory. It’s a well-established form of abusive commercial behaviour." Microsoft charges handset makers for licences to its Windows Phone mobile software.

European Commission’s antitrust commissioner Joaquin Almunia could move against Google within the next few weeks if the negotiations underway since the summer do not reach a satisfactory outcome.

In US the FTC’s chairman, Jonathan Leibowitz, is also widely reported to have given Google a deadline of a few days to sign a consent decree that would cover its future behaviour in the search space, or face a lawsuit similar to that which tied up Microsoft in 1998 and eventually saw it convicted of antitrust offences.

It seems for Google it is not shaping up to be a happy holiday season after all.

Read much more at The Guardian here.

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