Google accuses EU of ignoring Apple, challenges record fine

by Foo Yun Chee

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet, on Monday criticized the European competition authorities for not taking into account the power of its rival Apple, as the US group tries to obtain from the European justice the annulment of a fine of 4.34 billion . euros related to your Android operating system.

Far from having hindered the activity of its rivals and penalized users, Android has been a great success in the competition, Google representatives told five judges of the General Court of Luxembourg, the second highest court in Luxembourg. UE, at the beginning of five -Daytime audience. The European Commission fined Google in 2018 for abuse of a dominant position, accusing it of having used Android since 2011 to hamper its competitors and consolidate its dominant position in internet searches.

“The Commission ignored the real competitive dynamics in this sector, between Apple and Android,” Google attorney Meredith Pickford said in court. “By defining markets too narrowly and minimizing the strong restriction imposed by the almighty Apple, the Commission wrongly considered that Google dominated mobile operating systems and app stores, while in fact being a major market disruptor,” he added .

According to Meredith Pickford, Android “is an exceptional achievement that illustrates the power of competition in action.” The European executive’s lawyer, Nicholas Khan, put Apple’s role in perspective due to its low market share compared to Android. “Including Apple doesn’t change much. Google and Apple are developing different models,” he replied.

“Google’s attitude has been to deny any possibility of competition,” he said, referring to the agreements that forced manufacturers to pre-install Google Search, the Chrome browser and the Google Play application store on their Android phones.

Android, which is free to use by device manufacturers, is present in around 80% of smartphones worldwide. This case is the most important of the three EU cases against Google, in which the EU executive has fined a total of more than 8 billion euros in the last ten years. Device maker Gigaset Communications GmbH, which backs Google, said its success was due to Android’s open 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 after the contested decision represents a significant part of the price of Gigaset smartphones intended for price-sensitive consumers,” said group lawyer Jean-François Bellis. Lobbyist FairSearch, whose complaint led to the Commission’s fine, has been highly critical of Google’s strategy toward phone makers. “Google has adopted a classic decoy strategy. It hung them with a supposedly free and open operating system, subsidized by its monopoly on search engines, and then closed this system to competition in its entirety. Restrictions in question in this case.” said Thomas Vinje, an attorney for FairSearch.

(Report Foo Yun Chee, French version Diana Mandiá, edited by Jean-Michel Bélot)

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