- Google says Android is an outstanding achievement from the competition
- EU says Apple is not a rival due to smaller market share
- The court verdict could come next year
LUXEMBOURG, September 27 (Reuters) – Alphabet Unit (GOOGL.O) Google blasted EU antitrust regulators on Monday for ignoring rival Apple (AAPL.O) as it launched a bid for the second European court overturns a record 4.34 billion euros ($ 5.1 billion) fine related to its Android operating system.
Far from holding back rivals and hurting users, Android has been a huge success in the workplace competition, Google officials told a panel of five court judges at the start of a five-day hearing.
The European Commission fined Google in 2018, claiming it had been using Android since 2011 to thwart rivals and consolidate its dominance in general internet search.
Regardless of the court ruling, Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook will need to change their business models in the coming years to ensure a level playing field for their rivals, in line with tough new rules proposed by the chief antitrust officer of European Union, Margrethe Vestager.
“The Commission has turned a blind eye to the real competitive dynamics in this industry, that between Apple and Android,” Google lawyer Meredith Pickford told the court.
“By defining markets too narrowly and downplaying the powerful constraint imposed by the all-powerful Apple, the Commission wrongly found that Google was dominant in mobile operating systems and app stores, while it it was in fact a vigorous market disruptor, “he said.
Pickford said Android “is an outstanding achievement in the power of competition in action”.
Commission lawyer Nicholas Khan rejected Apple’s role because of its small market share compared to Android.
“Bringing Apple into the game doesn’t change much. Google and Apple are pursuing different models, ”he told the court.
Khan cited Google’s agreements that required phone makers to preinstall Google Search, the Chrome browser, and the Google Play app store on their Android devices, and the payments to preinstall only Google Search as conduct that did not allow not the competition.
He said that Google’s dominance as an incumbent and the immense barriers for its rivals have resulted in “a virtuous circle for Google but a vicious cycle for anyone else.”
Android, free for device makers, is found on around 80% of smartphones worldwide. The case is the most important of the three European Union cases against Google due to the market power of Android. Google has racked up more than 8 billion euros in antitrust fines in the EU over the past decade.
German phone maker Gigaset Communications GmbH, which backs Google, said its success as a European smartphone maker was due to Android’s open platform and lamented the negative impact of the Commission’s decision on his activities.
“The license fee of the Play Store that Google now charges following the contested decision represents a significant part of the price of Gigaset smartphones intended for price-sensitive consumers”, declared his lawyer Jean-François Bellis in court.
Lobbying group FairSearch, whose complaint sparked the Commission’s case, was scathing about Google’s tactics with phone makers, however.
“Google adopted a classic bait and change strategy. It (them) latched onto a supposedly free and open source operating system subsidized by its search monopoly, and then shut it down to competition. through the network of restrictions involved in this case, ”he added. lawyer Thomas Vinje told the court.
A verdict could fall next year. The case is T-604/18 Google v European Commission.
($ 1 = € 0.8537)
Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Kirsten Donovan
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