The Commission's preliminary view is that Google has implemented a strategy on mobile devices to preserve and strengthen its dominance in general internet search. First, the practices mean that Google Search is pre-installed and set as the default, or exclusive, search service on most Android devices sold in Europe. Second, the practices appear to close off ways for rival search engines to access the market, via competing mobile browsers and operating systems. In addition, they also seem to harm consumers by stifling competition and restricting innovation in the wider mobile space.
The Commission's concerns were outlined in a Statement of Objections addressed to Google and its parent company, Alphabet.
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."
The Commission alleges that Google has breached EU antitrust rules by:
● requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google's Chrome browser and requiring them to set Google Search as default search service on their devices, as a condition to license certain Google proprietary apps;
● preventing manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code;
● giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-install Google Search on their devices.
Google can now look over the documents in the investigation, reply in writing, and request an oral hearing to present their side. The Commission takes a final decision only after the parties have exercised their rights of defense.