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Google's Android contracts under investigation over antitrust breach

Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission's antitrust commissioner, is continuing to put pressure on Google in regard to its Android operating system.

Vestager gave a speech at a conference in the Netherlands today in which she stressed how her department has now begun a close examination of the contracts Google has with mobile device manufacturers and mobile carriers. The European Commission is objecting to the requirements the company puts on its mobile partners to pre-load Google apps on devices.

By making device manufacturers and carriers pre-load the company's apps, Google is taking away their ability to choose which apps they install on their smartphones. This also takes away one of the best avenues for new apps to reach out to new customers.

Google is arguing against Vestager's claims by pointing out that Android is openly available to all and does not require Google apps to be installed. Many companies, with the most notable being Amazon, have released their own forked versions of Android that do not have any of the companies' apps installed and bypass the Play Store by including their own store to purchase and download applications.

While Google has been pushing for device manufacturers to adopt its version of Android, this has mainly been as an effort to ensure that users have the best experience possible using the OS and that it is easy to use immediately after they boot up their devices for the first time. They are still free to use their own version of Android, but without Google Apps pre-loaded on the device they forgo access to the Play Store which could be a deal breaker for some consumers.

Vestager and the European Commission are interested in learning more about how Google deals with its mobile partners and its rumoured that formal charges against the company may be issued as early as next week.

Image Credit: Bloomua / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.