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EU set to probe Google over Android licensing

The European Union is to launch an informal investigation of Google over alleged anti-competitive conduct in relation to the licensing of its popular mobile platform Android.

The antitrust probe will focus on accusations that Google struck exclusive licensing deals for Android with a variety of smartphone providers, hurting competition in the industry.

The European Commission has asked for answers to 82 questions about the alleged abuse of market position.

Documents seen by the Financial Times suggest Google licensed Android below cost and made special requests to cancel or delay the launch of devices running rival operating systems. Google is also accused of imposing exclusivity agreements in relation to popular services like YouTube.

“Android is an open platform that fosters competition,” said Google. “Handset makers, carriers and consumers can decide how to use Android, including which applications they want to use.”

Google's open source mobile operating system dominates the industry, making up a whopping 74 per cent of smartphone sales across the world in the first quarter of this year, according to a report by Gartner.

Its rapid rise has irked rivals, including Microsoft and Nokia, who joined in a consortium of 14 companies to complain about Google's tactics in April. Google is also embroiled in an EU investigation of its search engine policy.