Is Android Giving Google An Unfair Advantage?

    April 9, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

FairSearch.org, the organization made up of Google competitors mostly in (but not limited to) the the travel industry, has filed a new complaint with the EU. The angle this time is Android, which the coalition has deemed “a deceptive way to build advantages for key Google apps in 70 percent of the smartphones shipped today”.

Do you think Android gives Google an unfair advantage in search? Share your thoughts in the comments.

FairSearch says:

FairSearch.org has filed a complaint with the European Commission laying out Google’s anti-competitive strategy to dominate the mobile marketplace and cement its control over consumer Internet data for online advertising as usage shifts to mobile.

“Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data,” said Thomas Vinje, Brussels-based counsel to the FairSearch coalition. “We are asking the Commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market. Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system.”

The organization continues, “Google achieved its dominance in the smartphone operating system market by giving Android to device-makers for ‘free.’ But in reality, Android phone makers who want to include must-have Google apps such as Maps, YouTube or Play are required to pre-load an entire suite of Google mobile services and to give them prominent default placement on the phone, the complaint says. This disadvantages other providers, and puts Google’s Android in control of consumer data on a majority of smartphones shipped today.”

FairSearch goes on to call Google’s distribution of Android “predatory”.

The New York Times reports that EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia said he’s receiving proposals from Google this week aimed at clearing up concerns about search practices, as he has been leading an investigation into them. The Times says he’s not commenting on the Android complaint from FairSearch, but noted that the EU has been looking into Android separately.

The timing of this complaint from FairSearch is interesting, given that just days ago, Facebook introduced the Android-specific “Facebook Home,” which lets Android users have a Facebook app that dominates the device, and pushes everything else (including Google apps and even search) into the background. Clearly some Google competitors are not only finding ways to compete on Android, but are even making the basis for their new mobile strategies Android-specific.

Even if Facebook Home doesn’t directly compete in search right now, Mark Zuckerberg has indicated that Graph Search will make its way to the product in time. Remember, that hasn’t even rolled out to mobile yet. It’s also worth noting that vertical search services, particularly on mobile, have already shown they can chip away at Google searches. Facebook, for that matter, recently renamed the “Nearby” feature in its mobile app to “Local Search”.

Amazon, which is arguably Google’s biggest competitor outside of Microsoft, also uses Android to its own benefit. It is the basis for the operating system upon which its Kindle Fire devices run. Amazon has taken advantage of Google’s “open” Android platform to even build its own app store, independent of Google Play. It is this “open” nature of Android, which Zuckerberg specifically praised during a press event introducing Facebook Home.

So, one way to look at Android’s effect on competition is that it directly enables competitors to take on Google with their own offerings.

FairSearch consists of 17 companies whose members including Microsoft, Oracle, Expedia, Nokia, and TripAdvisor. Microsoft, by the way, isn’t very happy about Facebook Home either. Considering Bing’s partnership with Facebook, perhaps that will change once Graph Search makes its way to it.

Meanwhile, Microsoft just kicked off a new “Scroogled” campaign against Google. In other iterations, Microsoft has attacked Google Shopping in Gmail. This time it’s none other than Android, but not for the same reasons highlighted in its EU complaint. The Scroogled campaign aims to convince consumers that there are privacy concerns when using Android, and specifically the Google Play store.

“When you buy an Android app from the Google app store, they give the app maker your full name, email address and the neighborhood where you live. This occurs without clear warning every single time you buy an app,” the campaign goes. “If you can’t trust Google’s app store, how can you trust them for anything?”

I wonder if that goes for any of the initiatives that the two companies have partnered on together.

Is Google as evil as Microsoft makes it out to be? Is Android specifically? Let us know what you think.

  • http://auzapps.com anton

    Sorry Guys, Liked the article, but where is Apple in all this?

  • http://www.neonexuscorp.com Kent Milholland

    fairsearch is a group of companies that are getting their ass kicked in the marketplace and so resort to government interference to prop up their own businesses.

    Apple is no better with all their frivolous lawsuits against companies like Samsung.

    If you a) have a good product/service, b) are good at marketing your product/service, or c) both, then the market rewards you. However, the internet/IT market changes fast, so its common to see a once dominating company lose market share because they didn’t adapt quickly enough. Instead of adapting, they resort to whining to government entities about their competition.

    Android rocks. Just like when Microsoft Windows became ‘hardware independent’, Android has done the same for mobile. Apple has a good product (I own an iPad), and I previously owned an iPhone, but Apple charges for everything and tries to control everything on its platform. Android has disrupted that model and offers a better value. Not a better product (iOs and Android are both good systems), but Android is a better value. In addition, I see more innovation coming from Android … why? Because there are so many companies like Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and others improving the platform instead of relying on a single company (Apple).

    Its crazy for Google NOT to bundle services with Android, just like its crazy for Microsoft Internet Explorer to be required to be independent from the operating system. Apple bundles everything; Microsoft bundles everything, and now Google is doing it EXCEPT Google allows is competitors to do the same thing on Android.

    The socialist EU can shove it; all they do is hold back competition; they do nothing to move capitalism forward.

  • Andrew

    You know Microsoft has room to talk they complain that your full information is given to the developers without warning and claim you can not trust them. Yet they in a fully paid version of Windows 8 embed ads without your consistent and worse on a paid product. So both companies are guilty of taking advantage of their customers just in different ways so get over yourselves Fairsearch and Microsoft.

  • http://www.Quantisoft.com Howard Deutsch

    Yes, Android absolutely gives Google an unfair advantage in search, just as putting Internet Explorer on every computer using Windows back inthe 1990’s gave Microsoft an unfair advantage. Disruptive changes in technology happen much faster than the regulators’ ability and desire to keep things fair from a competitive regard.

  • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

    So the Goog is getting an unfair advantage from its OS but Micro$oft/B(l)ing aren’t?

    As far as I know, one can choose whatever search engine one wants to use in Android, no less so than one can on a Windoze box or in IE so their beef is what exactly?

  • http://www.rupertsolutions.com Gary Rupert

    Yes! Definitely! I recently switched from Blackberry in order to be able to use a specific app. The dealers are sold on the Androids which is really hurting Blackberry. I’ve never been a lover of Google and I can’t believe how much of my life they have access to. The Blackberry is a better phone and would like to have it back.

  • Bill

    Android is a Trojan Horse for the general public. It lets Google into your deepest secrets without your knowledge. Every thing you do, place you go, and thought you express on your phone is pirated by Google. Google has long past it’s mantra to do no evil. It is now the consummate corporate evil empire. It is time for anti-trust action, and consumer driven privacy protection legislation in every country where they do business.

  • http://www.enviroequipment.com/used-environmental-equipment.html Enviro Equipment Inc.

    Well, open borders Google is using It’s it’s Android device as a Trojan horse. Microsoft did the same thing back in the 90s with its Windows 95 software as a way of getting it’s MS Explorer browser onto as many PCs as possible and the result was no more Netscape Navigator. This tactic worked then and currently is working now for Google.

  • http://www.adovationz.co.nz Digby Geen

    Yes giving an OS away free does give a company an unfair advantage.

    But that’s how the internet works these days.
    We can’t sell it so give it away.

    Microsoft are a bit rich to complain.

    Years ago Netscape were doing quite well in the “browser wars”, until Microsoft started giving Internet Explorer away free with Windows.
    Netscape soon disappeared.

  • https://www.searchen.com John Colascione

    I must admit that from time to time I too get frustrated from the domination of Google in everything from our computers to phones, but it is a shame that when you are really good at something as Google has clearly become, everywhere you turn someone wants to sue you simply based on the fact that you have worked so hard and have become great. Is this what awaits you at the top?

  • http://vaporizersale.com Jay Rush

    Most people use Google regardless of operating system.

  • Robert

    at this time i think what google only get benefits from everything they have, like information, accounts, stolen photos and videos (they display it right from google site), web traffic, etc.
    Android is also their try to rule the world. But I not will use it, galaxy tab 2 was enough for me to play with android. not anymore.

  • Greg

    It is an open source OS for God sake! Based on Linux!
    Unlike the closed microsoft OS that you are not allowed to own or share and has a de facto monopoly on desktops…

  • http://www.starmediamw.com Jeff Kaira

    Google can not avoid having the upper hand. They own the world’s major search engine and will position their smart phone in a way that they only can do with Google. Microsoft is doing that with Bing as the default search option when you are using their PCs or Internet Explorer.

    However, the complaints are substantial given the fact that the world needs to adhere to fair business practices. Unfortunately, consumers will go with what makes more sense in their daily needs, making some products superior to others.

  • http://paymentway.com.ua Sava

    I do not think that they will score advantages.People use those devices and methods that is comfortable in everyday life.

  • Jeannine Kay

    Google, Android easy, fast, comfortable to use, more economical than any other OS. Microsoft is too expensive and restrictive, as is Apple. Companies do well when their products are good and are useful to the general public and for business etc… That is why Google does well!

  • http://wheeldecide.com Wheel

    Microsoft have had to deal with so many things like this themselves. They probably think it is only fair that Google (and Apple) should have to go through the same bogus lawsuits and complaints. Recently, Microsoft were fined for not promoting competitors web browsers on Windows. There needs to be some deterrent for these companies making these bogus lawsuits and claims (other than the money they spend on them). Boycotting is too impractical.

  • Malan

    Rotten apple is not even worth mentioning..