The EU may be bringing an antitrust case against Google in relation to its Android operating system, but the ITIF (Information Technology & Innovation Foundation) thinks that this is 'misguided'. Rather than Google harming customer choice, the institute says that it is the case against Google that should be in the spotlight.
Google has made much of the fact that Android is open source, and the ITIF says that "holding 'open' operating systems to higher standard only hurts consumer choice". Vice President Daniel Castro says that the Android ecosystem reduces costs for consumers, increases choice, and complains that the European Commission has failed to give details of precisely how consumers are being harmed by Google.
Referring to the new antitrust case, Castro says: "Today's announcement shows that the European Commission holds a misguided view of how competition law should be used to protect consumers in the era of digital platforms. Operating systems like Android benefit from economies of scale and network effects that naturally limit the number of competitors in the market, and this often produces greater value for consumers in the form of better features, lower costs, and increased interoperability. Fewer competitors does not necessarily mean that consumers will be harmed. It is striking in today’s announcement that the European Commission has failed to give concrete details about how consumers have been harmed by the alleged offenses".
But that's not all. Castro believes that the decision to hold the open platform to greater scrutiny than paid-for alternatives is unfair: "Moreover, the EU Commission would not be making these allegations against Google if it had not committed to developing Android as an open platform that anyone can build applications for and customise. But companies who develop open platforms should not be held to a higher standard than those developing closed platforms.
"Open platforms may offer greater flexibility to expand and extend features and functionality, while closed platforms may offer better consistency, security, and usability to end users. Customers should have the option to decide whichever works best for them, but creating a two-tiered standard would discourage investment in open platforms and hurt consumer choice."
He concludes by saying that the commission "should consider both the immediate and long-term implications of its actions", but there's no getting away from the notion that the ITIF feels the case is unnecessary in the first place.