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EU regulator raises Android concerns

The European Commission has raised concerns that Google has breach EU competition rules through the terms of and deals it has struck with mobile device manufacturers and network operators.

Google has defended its "partner agreements" and said the business model it operates when selling its Android mobile operating system are good for both device manufacturers and consumers.

The Commission's concerns were outlined in a statement of objections it has issued Google in which it stated its provisional view that the company has abused a dominant market position in breach of EU law.

Its specific concerns mainly relate to agreements Google has with device manufacturers over the use of its Android mobile operating system. It said they tie manufacturers into pre-installing some other Google services onto devices and prevent them from selling devices that run on competing operating systems.

The Commission, which is responsible for enforcing EU competition rules, has also taken issue with "financial incentives" it said the company offers to device manufacturers and mobile network operators to "exclusively pre-install Google Search on their devices".

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: "A competitive mobile internet sector is increasingly important for consumers and businesses in Europe. Based on our investigation thus far, we believe that Google's behaviour denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players, in breach of EU antitrust rules. These rules apply to all companies active in Europe. Google now has the opportunity to reply to the Commission's concerns."

Google said it takes the Commission's concerns seriously but said it believes its business model "keeps manufacturers’ costs low and their flexibility high, while giving consumers unprecedented control of their mobile devices".

"Our partner agreements have helped foster a remarkable -- and, importantly, sustainable -- ecosystem, based on open-source software and open innovation," said Kent Walker, senior vice president and general counsel at Google in a company blog. "We look forward to working with the European Commission to demonstrate the careful way we’ve designed the Android model in a way that’s good for competition and for consumers."

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