In a press release earlier today the European Commission confirmed that they have sent a Statement of Objections to Google concerning what they believe are uses of the company’s dominant position in internet search to skew search results in its favor against other companies operating in Europe.
In addition the EU will also be looking into Google’s actions relating to its Android mobile operating system. This inquiry will look to see if Google used their dominant position to unfairly influence agreements with other companies relating to operating systems, applications and services for smart mobile devices.
Some of that sounds very familiar doesn’t it?
Margrethe Vestager, the EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy, made the following statement concerning these two situations:
"The Commission's objective is to apply EU antitrust rules to ensure that companies operating in Europe, wherever they may be based, do not artificially deny European consumers as wide a choice as possible or stifle innovation".
"In the case of Google I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rules. Google now has the opportunity to convince the Commission to the contrary. However, if the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe."
"I have also launched a formal antitrust investigation of Google’s conduct concerning mobile operating systems, apps and services. Smartphones, tablets and similar devices play an increasing role in many people's daily lives and I want to make sure the markets in this area can flourish without anticompetitive constraints imposed by any company."
By the way, Google is still under the EU microscope for other issues including the search results of other specialized search services, copying competitor’s web content (scraping). advertising exclusivity and applying restrictions on advertisers.
According to Matt Rosoff at Business Insider Google could face fines near 10% of the company’s annual revenue or $6 billion dollars using last year’s company revenues as an example.
Microsoft knows what Google is going through in this process.
In 2003 the EU ordered Microsoft to pay nearly $800 million in fines for anti-competitive practices relating to the companies dominant position in the desktop operating system market. Recently, in 2013, the EU charged Microsoft another fine of around $730 million dollars because they had failed to continue to comply with an order to provide a browser ballot in the Windows operating system for users in Europe. That ballot, which was supposed to be in place for five years, was dropped due to a technical error by the Redmond company.