Google must feel like it’s Groundhog Day. Another antitrust complaint has been filed against the company in Europe. This one is focused on Android and third-party app stores.
There are also older complaints about Android before the European Commission (EC).
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal the new complaint was filed by a Portuguese company called Aptoide, which offers a Google Play alternative. The company argues Google is blocking third party app stores seeking to compete against the Android app store:
Aptoide claims that Google creates obstacles for users to install third-party app stores onto its Android platform, bundles services that are essential to its operating system with Google Play, and blocks access to Aptoide websites in its Chrome Web browser.
The EC has Independently been mulling an antitrust investigation into Android but hasn’t formally initiated one. The new complaint, however, may force the EC’s hand and tip the balance in favor of a formal Android investigation. In Europe Android represents a second front for regulatory scrutiny of Google’s business practices.
The US FTC considered Android in its antitrust investigation and declined to pursue an action, settling with the company.
Postscript: The following is from a press release put out yesterday by complainant Aptoide:
The complaint contends that Google is leveraging its dominance in the Android operating systems for mobile phones to control the App Stores market. The App Market is worth an estimated annual USD 23 billion (ABI Research).
The diversity of applications available in App Stores plays a key role in the popularity and growth of smart phones, but it is the innovation and creativity in apps that is also pushing the limits of the mobile sector and driving mobile use into every dimension of human activity.
“Aptoide is the world’s largest independent App Store for Android phones, but we are struggling to grow, even to survive, in the face of Google systematically setting up obstacles for users to install third-party App Stores in the Android platform and blocking competition in their Google Play store,” said Paulo Trezentos, co-founder and Aptoide CEO.
The complaint alleges illegal bundling as Google couples its API Services with Google Play which is the dominant Android App Store. APIs (‘application programming interfaces’) determine how software components interact with each other. For no reason Google regularly suspends Aptoide from appearing on Google Play thereby depriving the start-up of accessing consumers and vice versa
“We are only asking the Commission to restore fair competition in the market, so we can compete on our own merits“, stressed Álvaro Pinto, co-founder and Aptoide COO.