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EU committee to probe Google over alleged anticompetitive behavior with Android

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Android 4.0 welcome robot (STOCK)
Android 4.0 welcome robot (STOCK)

Google can't seem to stay out of the crosshairs of regulators in the European Union: According to a report from the Financial Times, the antitrust watchdog is planning to investigate Google over alleged anticompetitive behavior with its Android mobile operating system. Specifically, the regulators' probe will look at whether or not Google was licensing Android to manufacturers "below cost" in an effort to get widespread adoption, and "potential requests by Google to cancel and / or delay the launch of smartphone devices" that were running competing operating systems or used competing services to Google's own. The investigation follows complaints from Microsoft and Nokia, which alleged that Google used the Android platform to force manufacturers to use its own services instead of other options.

The group will also look at whether or not Google has used its influence to force manufacturers to pre-install its own apps such as YouTube on their devices and then give them prominent places by default on the homescreen. Though Android is offered for free to manufacturers as an open source operating system, Google's competitors allege that the company has used it to push services such as YouTube, which bring in a large amount of ad revenue to Google.

Google provided the FT with a generic statement on the openness of Android: "Android is an open platform that fosters competition. Handset makers, carriers and consumers can decide how to use Android, including which applications they want to use."

So far, the probe by the EU is still informal, and it's not clear whether or not anything will come of it. Google has long been in the EU's line of sight: it's had to contend with antitrust and privacy complaints for years. With its Android operating system nearing market share of 70 percent or more, chances are this isn't the last time it will face scrutiny by regulators.