EU Commission gives Google a six-week breather in ongoing Android investigation

eu fines google commission header
The European Union has officially accused Google of closing out the competition with its Android mobile operating system, and abusing the dominant role it has in the smartphone industry. The accusation comes after European Competition Commission chief, Margrethe Vestager, spoke at a conference in the Netherlands, saying the Commission was taking a close look at Google’s contract with manufacturers and operators.

Google had 12 weeks to respond to the EU Commission’s charges, with a deadline of July 27; but now the company has been given a six-week extension. A European Commission spokesman said it had, “Agreed to extend Google’s deadline to respond to its Statement of Objections concerning Android and its applications until September 7.”

Earlier, Google’s general counsel Kent Walker told Reuters, “We look forward to working with the European Commission to demonstrate that Android is good for competition and good for consumers.” Its request for an extension is for “additional time to review the documents in the case file,” according to the spokesman speaking to the Guardian.


Why has the accusation been made? The Commission doesn’t want competition to be stifled, but considers that by requiring the pre-installation of apps including Chrome and Google Search functionality, Google is effectively denying the public any choice. It’s not the first time the Commission has looked at pre-installed software this way. More than a decade ago, it decided Microsoft was shutting out competition with its Media Player, given the likelihood that people would just opt to use the default media player on the operating system, rather than installing another, third-party one.

Verstager said Google’s actions, “deny consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players,” according to Reuters.

“We need to be sure that big companies don’t try to protect themselves by holding back innovation,” Vestager said prior to the official complaint. “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.”


Google told Digital Trends that manufacturers can use Android however they wish.

“Anyone can use Android, with or without Google applications,” a spokesperson said. “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.”

And the company argued for its partner agreements last year in a blog post, citing that they were voluntary.

“It’s important to remember that these are voluntary — again, you can use Android without Google — but provide real benefits to Android users, developers, and the broader ecosystem,” the company wrote. “Anti-fragmentation agreements, for example, ensure apps work across all sorts of different Android devices. (After all, it would be pretty frustrating if an app you downloaded on one phone didn’t also work on your eventual replacement phone.)” Google added that bundling pre-loaded apps helps manufacturers compete against “other mobile ecosystems that come pre-loaded with similar baseline apps,” like Apple and Microsoft.

The European Commission’s investigation into Google’s services has been ongoing for quite a while, and last year, the Commission sued the search giant over anti-competitive practices for search results and for its Google Shopping search comparisons.

Previous updates:

Updated on 07-13-2016 by Andy Boxall: Added in news of an extension granted to Google by the EU Commission

Updated on 04-20-2016 by Andy Boxall: Added in news of the EU Commission’s official charges


Why Honor’s new screen is the hole-y grail in quest to ditch the notch

Honor will release a smartphone with an in-screen camera in the new year, a trend which is gathering momentum in the industry. Honor said it has cracked the formula, and explains what's special about its All-View Display.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

Apple is still selling iPhones in China despite being ordered not to

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.

G’day, Google: U.S. users can now give Assistant a British or Australian accent

U.S. Google Assistant users can give their Assistant a different voice. Google has updated Assistant with the ability for users to give it either a British or Australian accent, which could make it a little more personal for some.

Google makes it easy to donate to charity straight through the Play Store

As we head into the holiday season, Google announced a new feature on Google Play that makes it a little easier to donate to charity. Through the new page, you'll be able to choose from a range of charities to donate to.
Smart Home

These activists are hacking housing problems in NYC using apps and data

There are 1.2 million people living in "deficient" housing in New York City and now these coders are making easy-to-use, intuitive apps designed to give tenants a fighting chance against unscrupulous landlords.

Google Assistant will alert you if it thinks your flight will be delayed

Google Assistant will soon be able to alert you if your flight is delayed. Using historical flight status data and machine learning, the service can even predict a flight delay before it's been officially confirmed.

Forget 3 being a crowd, 4 is the magic number on the Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei's sequel to the P20 Pro, the P30 Pro, has already started to leak ahead of its 2019 announcement and release. The company is likely to improve even further on the P20 Pro's excellent camera.

Here are 19 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great stocking stuffer ideas), we've rounded up 19 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth…

How to use Samsung’s Bixby assistant for all of your smartphone tasks

Samsung Bixby is a powerful tool, but not the most intuitive one we've encountered. Here's how to set up and use every feature of Samsung's digital assistant, as well as what to expect in the future.

Declutter your life with our favorite wireless chargers for Android and iPhones

We checked out the best wireless phone chargers to make tangles and uncooperative ports a thing of the past. Whether you have an iPhone or Android, find out which wireless charging pads are worth buying, and how their features compare.

Microsoft patent filing shows wearable that mitigates involuntary movements

A patent application from Microsoft has shown the company is looking into using wearable technology to alleviate symptoms from various diseases and disorders that cause involuntary movements.

AT&T makes 5G a reality for a dozen U.S. cities, with more to come in 2019

Ready to experience a radical transformation in mobile communication? AT&T is launching mobile 5G in cities across the country over the next few months. Here's everything you need to know about the AT&T 5G rollout.
Product Review

With sapphire glass and analog dials, you'd never know this watch is smart

The world of hybrid smartwatches is getting much larger, and the latest comes from a name with history — New York Standard Watches. In our NYSW GTS Activity Tracker review, we find out what makes this watch special, and why we were so…