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Poll: Is Google guilty of stifling competition on Android?

Europe’s antitrust investigators are once investigating Google and whether it’s being anti-competitive. Is Google guilty? We want your opinion.

The head of the EU’s antitrust unit has once again hinted its investigating Google in relation to Android. In a recent speech titled ‘Competition: the mother of invention‘, Margrethe Vestager suggests Google’s practice of requiring its apps be pre-installed is bad for innovation.

Do you agree?

The Argument in favour

In a nutshell, the EU’s argument – or its concern – is that Google’s pre-install agreements prevent other innovative app makers from getting the same treatment, thus securing an unfair advantage for Google. Here’s a snippet from the speech:

Vestager: “When we take a new smartphone out of its box, we want it to be ready to go straight away. We expect the maker – or the network operator – to make sure the basic apps, like a search app, are pre-loaded before it gets to us.

And that gives innovators a great opportunity to bring a new app to people’s attention.

Our concern is that, by requiring phone makers and operators to pre-load 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.”

Basically, it seems as though Vestager is advocating giving networks and manufacturers more control without penalty.

While it’s true that they don’t have to pre-install Google’s apps, it’s a requirement for access to the Google Play Store.

An Android phone without the store is unattractive, so most phone makers agree to the deal.

This is why Amazon’s Kindle tablets, which use a ‘forked’ version of Android, don’t have the Google Play Store and instead rely on Amazon’s own app store.

The argument against

In a statement given to Tech Crunch, Google emphasises the openness of Android:

Google: Anyone can use Android, with or without Google applications. 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. We continue to discuss this with the European Commission.”

Getting more specific, we already see the likes of Microsoft buying their way onto Android phones – the Galaxy S7 being a prime example – and both network providers and phone makers have a history of bundling apps and services.

The question, ultimately, is whether Google tying Google Play Store access to pre-installing its apps stifles competition or not.

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Google will no doubt be arguing it doesn’t, but what do you think? Vote above and share your views in the comments below.

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