Android Chrome statue (glowing eyes)

Much has been said about Google’s openness with Android, the mobile operating system the Internet giant gives away free of charge in the hope of spurring the ecosystem of devices with access to its many services.

But Google’s rivals are now complaining to Europe that the search monster is using Android as a Trojan Horse of sorts to lock out competing services on mobile devices.

How? By contractually demanding that vendors who want Google Maps or YouTube or the Google Play store also preload its many other services. Such an approach to openness “uses deceptive conduct to lockout competition in mobile,” rivals argue…

The New York Times reports that the 17-member anti-Google coalition, which calls itself Fairsearch Europe, includes the Windows maker Microsoft and its handset partner Nokia, database vendor Oracle, the TripAdvisor and Expedia services and others.

For example, phone makers that agree to use Android – and that also want Google applications like YouTube – face contractual requirements to place those applications and other Google-branded applications in prominent positions on the mobile device’s desktop, Mr. Vinje said.

A written statement lawyer Thomas Vinje published on the coalition’s official web site reads:

Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data.

We are asking the Commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market.

Pulling out all the stops, a media release mentions “Google’s predatory distribution of Android at below-cost” which makes it “difficult for other providers of operating systems to recoup investments in competing with Google’s dominant mobile platform.”

The Commission has been probing Google’s abuse of its dominance of Internet search for two years now and its antitrust chief Joaquín Almunia confirmed officials had been examining the Android operating system independently of the Google search antitrust probe.

Mr. Almunia also said that he was receiving proposals this week from Google to clear up concerns about its search practices, and that he hoped they would make it easier for Internet users to identify when Google was promoting its own services rather than those of competitors who might offer better results.

I find it interesting that Google recently tweaked how it tracks Android versions. Previously, the company would register each device that hits Google servers, a practice that boosted activation numbers. But beginning in April, the company changed the algorithm and now counts only the devices which actually access the Play Store.

This means that forked Android devices such as Amazon’s Kindle tablet series or a bunch of no-name low-end Android handsets from China no longer register as active Android devices because they have their own stores (Amazon) or lack the Play Store (China) altogether.

But as Mike Elgan points out:

One third of all Android tablets are Amazon Kindle Fire devices, and Amazon actively replaces default access of Google’s services to Amazon’s.

Now they’re probably working on a phone, which they will probably subsidize heavily. Usage of Google services on Amazon devices is very low.

A notice on the Android Dashboard page now reads:

Beginning in April, 2013, these charts are now built using data collected from each device when the user visits the Google Play Store.

Previously, the data was collected when the device simply checked-in to Google servers. We believe the new data more accurately reflects those users who are most engaged in the Android and Google Play ecosystem.

Indeed, a user who never uses Google services isn’t a user.

Android version distribution 20130404

As a result of the new algorithm, over half of Android devices now register as running a pre 4.x Android version -mostly 2.3 Gingerbread that was released on December 6, 2010.

  • The question is, why they took so long to realize this? Jesus Christ, Google tactics were very predictable since the beginning!

    • cause umm google suuucks samsung sucks and android wel um suuuucks…

      • Outhig

        Not a fanboy at all.

    • Mohammed Sahib

      Cuz they did not anticipate Android’s success, taking such a large market share.

  • RarestName

    Microsoft’s IE default search is their own and not Google, so can they sue themselves too?

  • lol google should have kept android in house a llllooooong time ago so they could make the hardware perfectly for the OS like apple does.. now they are stuck with this lame PC like eco system of crappy android devices made by 100000 different companies that all suck..lololol

  • ashton wilson


  • Whoever wants to make iOS apps must not let their app replace a stock app via root access. So doesn’t that mean Apple too is using iOS as a trojan horse to lock out competition?

    • They are locking out competition, but not by using TROJAN HORSE !

    • iOS is a proprietary OS, made by Apple, for Apple devices!

      iOs is for iDevices, what PS3/XBOX360 software is for Sony/Microsoft.

  • “Preload…many other Services” they didn’t say ‘Hey!! You must download Android!” THEY SAID preload other services, that mesh Google’s features together. IT’s stupid. People are suing others for being better business men… like for real?

  • Thariq

    Y in thr pic below android is 1585 ????

  • Don’t do evil is just good PR…

  • KewlDewd

    “over half of Android devices now register as running a pre 4.x Android version”

    How do you figure? According to the chart and graph directly above that sentence over half of Android devices are running 4.x.x

  • Chuck Finley

    All this boils down to is “We can’t compete with Google so instead we’re going to claim they’re being unfair”. These companies are worse than the 12 year old kids who lose at something and suddenly cry cheater.

    Of /course/ Google is going to ask that their products are put frontline and centre if they’re distributing their OS for so cheap, how else are they going to make a profit? You thought that Google, a massive, multi-billion company, was giving away it’s OS out of the goodness of it’s heart?

    Utterly ridiculous.

  • Jordan Miller

    Google made the software available for free but with a catch you need to install its services.

    Which I think is equally fair.

    If you don’t like being made to use the services then:

    A) Quit using android as your OS.

    B) Make your own OS.

    C) Use android and quit whining ya pricks.

  • chris125

    Funny you *don’t” have to use google apps I mean look at what amazon is doing with the kindle, using android and their own app store.