Google, battling record EU fine, slams regulators for ignoring Apple

In this illustration taken on July 9, 2017, a 3D printed Android Bugdroid mascot is seen in front of a Google logo. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / File Photo

  • Google says Android has an exceptional competitive success story
  • EU says Apple is not a rival due to lower market share
  • The court’s verdict may come next year

LUXEMBOURG, September 27 (Reuters) – Alphabet (GOOGL.O) The Google unit on Monday criticized EU antitrust regulators for ignoring rival Apple. (AAPL.O) as it launched a bid for Europe’s second highest court to vacate a record 4.34 billion euros ($ 5.1 billion) fine related to its Android operating system.

Far from slowing down rivals and harming users, Android has been a great success story in competition at work, Google representatives told a five-judge panel at the Luxembourg General Court at the start of a hearing of five. days.

The European Commission fined Google in 2018, saying it had used Android since 2011 to thwart its rivals and solidify its dominance in general internet searches.

“The Commission closed its eyes to the real competitive dynamics in this industry, the one between Apple and Android,” Google attorney Meredith Pickford told the court.

By defining markets too narrowly and downplaying the powerful constraint imposed by mighty Apple, the Commission has erroneously found that Google is dominant in mobile operating systems and app stores, when in fact it was a powerful disruptor of the market. market, “he said.

Pickford said Android “is an exceptional success story of the power of competition in action.”

The commission’s attorney, Nicholas Khan, ruled out Apple’s role due to its small market share compared to Android.

“Bringing Apple into the picture doesn’t change things much. Google and Apple are pursuing different models,” he told the court.

“Google’s conduct negated any opportunity for competition,” it said, citing deals that forced phone makers to pre-install Google Search, the Chrome browser and the Google Play app store on their Android devices, and payments to pre-install just Google Search. .

Android, free to use by device manufacturers, is found on about 80% of the world’s smartphones. 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 in EU antitrust fines in the last decade.

German phone maker Gigaset Communications GmbH, which backs Google, said its success was due to the open Android platform and regretted the negative impact of the Commission’s decision on its business.

“The license fee for the Play Store that Google now charges as a result of the contested decision represents a significant part of the price of Gigaset smartphones intended for price-sensitive consumers,” his lawyer Jean-François Bellis told the court.

However, lobbyist FairSearch, whose complaint sparked the Commission’s case, was scathing about Google’s tactics with phone makers.

“Google adopted a classic bait and switch strategy. It hooked them to a supposedly free and open source operating system subsidized by its search monopoly, only to shut that system off to competition through the network of restrictions in question in this case. “he added. lawyer Thomas Vinje told the court.

The verdict may come next year. The case is T-604/18 Google against the European Commission.

(This story corrects the name of Google’s attorney)

($ 1 = 0.8537 euros)

Report of Foo Yun Chee; Edited by Kirsten Donovan

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