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Competitors Complain To EC That Free Android Is a 'Trojan Horse' 315

Posted by timothy
from the takes-exactly-one-to-know-exactly-one dept.
First time accepted submitter DW100 writes "Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle have taken it upon themselves to moan to the European Commission about Google's Android dominance, which they say is an underhand bid to control the entire mobile market. The firms are part of the FairSearch group, which has just filed a complaint that Google is using Android as a 'Trojan Horse' to take control of the mobile market and all the related advertising revenue. Microsoft would of course know all about this, being at the end of several similar anti-competitive complaints in the past."
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Competitors Complain To EC That Free Android Is a 'Trojan Horse'

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  • News Flash! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bondsbw (888959) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:30AM (#43400327)

    Company makes billions of dollars; wants more. Competitors not happy.

    Now on to how Justin Bieber's pet monkey was confiscated at an airport...

  • by yincrash (854885) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:31AM (#43400347)
    If you don't like it, release your own free operating system where you package your search engine it.
  • Linux legacy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wcrowe (94389) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:34AM (#43400391)

    Interesting. What Linux couldn't accomplish on the desktop, it's accomplishing everywhere else.

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:35AM (#43400401)

    They are advertising conduits. Which advertising conduit do you want to purchase? This one has extra advertising!

    Thank goodness for large corporations. Who else could properly define the purpose of a telephone?

  • Re:News Flash! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:35AM (#43400405) Homepage Journal

    Company makes billions of dollars; wants more. Competitors not happy.

    Translation: "They're doing what we would do, but they're a lot better at it than we are."

    You never know how the EC will react, tho.

  • So, 'free' is bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SternisheFan (2529412) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:35AM (#43400413)
    From the article: The FairSearch complaint boils down to Google using Android as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to sign up advertising partners, monopolise the mobile market and control user data by letting mobile hardware manufacturers use its operating system free of charge.

    The group is concerned that as the online advertising market shifts increasingly to mobile platforms with the rise in smartphones and tablets, Google is giving itself an unfair head start.

    “Google achieved its dominance in the smartphone operating system market by giving Android to device-makers for ‘free’. But in reality, Android phone makers who want to include must-have Google apps such as Maps, YouTube or Play are required to pre-load an entire suite of Google mobile services and to give them prominent default placement on the phone,” the group argued.

    “This disadvantages other providers, and puts Google’s Android in control of consumer data on a majority of smartphones shipped today. Google’s predatory distribution of Android at below-cost makes it difficult for other providers of operating systems to recoup investments in competing with Google’s dominant mobile platform.”

    So, this is 'wrong' because Google doesn't charge for their OS? Man, MS is getting blatantly desperate sounding. Make an OS that people will want to use, then you might even get them to buy it!

  • Terrifying, truly. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:37AM (#43400429) Journal

    Google's nefarious release of Android-related material under the 'Google Public License'(which allows you to use the code; but requires that all web activity be logged and sent to Google) was truly a masterstroke for market dominance.

    Oh, wait, you mean that Android is a mixture of Apache and GPL components, and Google has had somewhat indifferent luck with preventing other vendors(Amazon, Samsung, etc.) from quite successfully using it for their own purposes while cutting them out of the picture entirely? Oh, um, never mind then...

  • by blarkon (1712194) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:42AM (#43400461)
    Google is really good at coming into markets and offering a free product and in doing that sort of stymieing the development of alternatives. We can see it with what happened with the introduction of Google Reader - the introduction of a good enough free reader from Google functionally nuked the development of alternatives. I imagine that if Microsoft had started giving away its operating systems for free back in the 90's (and finagling things so that they made their money further up the stack) there would have been less interest in Linux. When any of the world's big companies give away something for nothing, it's worth having a closer look at what the catch is.
  • Re:Linux legacy. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:42AM (#43400469)

    Not Linux really, but Google. Amazing what you can do with just a few billion dollars! ;-)
    Only reason they used Linux was that it was free and they had no interest of making money from software. If they wrote software to make money Android would be based on something else (BSD? anyone?). I shudder to think of what would happen if they (companies) realize how little conventional advertising is really worth in sales.

  • by scorp1us (235526) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:44AM (#43400483) Journal

    Are complaining they can't get revenue from it.

  • by houbou (1097327) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:48AM (#43400527) Journal
    I think that Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle are going in the stand-up comedy business. Because this complaint is certainly the funniest one I've seen.

    Open Source is more popular commercially than they are. Gee, who would have thought of that!

    For years, I've always advocated that Microsoft should release DOS and then Windows for free at the very least for non-business use. If you need support, buy it from Microsoft.

    They've been scoffing at open source for years and now, it's proven to work and its working on devices such as phones and tablets which are consumed even more than PCs, which is why they are sorely pissed and scared.

    Eventually all of this means that tablets, phones and new generations of portable laptops/netbooks will have the powers of PCs and more and won't be running on Windows or any other proprietary platforms.

    But that's called competition, and well, the thing is, while Google may be the leaders of Android, as we can plainly see, Android is free and customized by all as they see fit, so, it's not an actually anti-competitive at all.

    Good Luck to Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle, for they will need it! :)
  • by BlindMaster (2262842) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:50AM (#43400545)

    I thought it is more than free, isn't it Open Source?
    If I don't like the default application packages, can't I make source code changes to it? I thought Careers or phone makers added their own. My Samsung has their own applications as well.

  • by lord_mike (567148) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:56AM (#43400609)

    Then how does Amazon get away with Android without all the Google stuff on their Kindle Fire?

  • Re:News Flash! (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @09:56AM (#43400613)

    I don't think it's retarded at all. I remain convinced that Samsung (underhandedly) encrypted my previously unlocked boot loader so it could install Google Video and other Garden Apps (that I never wanted). I actually hope this goes somewhere because "never buying Samsung again" isn't changing much and "they" know it. Bastards.

  • by lord_mike (567148) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @10:02AM (#43400659)

    Monopolies are inherently ineffecient by their nature. There is no incentive to be innovative or productive in a monopoly situation. Standard Oil should be grateful that the government won its case. The sum of the broken up parts became greater than the original company and still thrives today. US Steel won their antitrust case, and their bloated, inefficient monopoly caused them to sink under their own weight. IBM, AT&T, and now Microsoft have all suffered the inefficiencies of being a monopoly. The first two managed to adapt. We'll see if Microsoft can, too.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @10:07AM (#43400695)
    What you described is not capitalism, it is a variation on fascism. It is one variant of the economic system that you end up with when you ask the government to regulate ever more aspects of the economy in order to protect people from their own bad decisions. All of the variants look pretty much the same, the only question is whether the people who benefit are people who accumulated wealth before you started down that path and use it to acquire political power as this process goes forward or whether the people who benefit are people who accumulated political power before you started down that path and use it to acquire wealth as this process goes forward. Of course what often happens is some combination of the two. The one thing that never happens as the government regulates ever greater parts of the economy is that the common person benefits.
  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @10:42AM (#43401211)

    The difference is that there was no way to get Windows without IE. In fact, Microsoft also worked to make sure that IE was not only included, but the default browser on all Windows PCs sold. (Effectively all PCs sold since this was before Apple's resurgence and before the rise of tablets/smartphones.) Getting Windows with Netscape Navigator as the default browser was next-to-impossible and getting it with NN instead of IE was completely impossible.

    Android, on the other hand, doesn't require that you bundle Google's apps. You can make an Android device and include only the apps you decide to include. (Exhibit A: The Kindle Fire.) So Microsoft could, theoretically, release a MS-customized Android smartphone or tablet that links to a Microsoft Android App Store without any ad money going to Google. In fact, by doing so, they'd instantly tap into and profit from the Android application ecosystem. All without giving tons of money to Google.

    All Microsoft is really complaining about is that Google's Android is too popular and their own offerings aren't good enough to compete.

  • Re:News Flash! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Omestes (471991) <omestes@gmail.CURIEcom minus physicist> on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @10:57AM (#43401443) Homepage Journal

    Again: the complaint is that Google uses their market power on Android to get their users onto their services

    Isn't that the game of all mobile operating systems these days? iOS tries to leverage you into their universe by corralling you into their shop system, but here you can't easily escape. MS is hoping for the same thing, hooking you into their universe, with no escape. Amazon is doing the same, with their gimped version of Android. At least Google allows you to escape, and install apps from other sources, and avoid using their services (which obviously they'd prefer you use, but they are still mostly optional san third party shenanigans).

    There isn't a single good guy in the mobile universe. But Google is probably as close as you'd get right now.

  • Like the cable companies, which keep dropping prices to... oh wait. Like Windows and Office, which got cheaper all of the way through the 1990s and 2000s until... oh wait. Like medical costs, which kept going down so nobody was clamoring for government subsidized health care. Oh wait. Like education, which kept getting cheaper until nobody wanted public schools or government assistance for education.

    Look how Intel colluded with PC vendors to lock AMD out of parts of the market, and is in the process of finishing them off. If ARM hadn't started becoming a major player in the processor space, we'd be looking at $500 i3s. Look at the collusion between Intel, Apple, Google, Quicken, and a few other companies to avoid poaching each other's engineers in an artificial means to keep employee costs low.

    I'm not a rah-rah-rah fan of big government. But businesses do get a position of power and ruthlessly exploit it. The market has no ethics, it's winner take all and illegal is only wrong if the cost of getting caught exceeds the savings by breaking the law.
  • Re:News Flash! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Omestes (471991) <omestes@gmail.CURIEcom minus physicist> on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @11:44AM (#43402097) Homepage Journal

    Have you tried non-Play alternatives?

    I've used Amazon's marketplace, and thats about it. Though I have installed a pretty good amount of non-market APKs. It isn't Android or Google's fault that alternatives haven't risen up, all that matters is that they intrinsically allow these alternatives, unlike Apple or MS.

    Anyhow, there's an interesting absence on that list of companies forming the complaint.

    This is probably because they realize that they are the other behemoth in the room, and probably would be the next target. Further, all I could think about when reading this was "what about Apple"... Though it is ironic that MS is the one complaining, since they want nothing more than to copy Apple and Google.

  • Re:News Flash! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @11:48AM (#43402155) Journal

    Isn't that the game of all mobile operating systems these days? iOS tries to leverage you into their universe by corralling you into their shop system, but here you can't easily escape. MS is hoping for the same thing, hooking you into their universe, with no escape. Amazon is doing the same, with their gimped version of Android. At least Google allows you to escape, and install apps from other sources, and avoid using their services (which obviously they'd prefer you use, but they are still mostly optional san third party shenanigans).

    Have you tried non-Play alternatives?

    Other than The Pirate Bay style services (which constantly bring up "Use the Play Store!" comments whenever a new Android malware comes around), very few alternatives exist. Amazon is probably the most viable, but they're still a tiny fraction of what's available, and not available in most countries where Android is available (just two, I think).

    If you're lucky, it's open-source and the APK is available. If not, you're pretty much hosed as the developer chose to stick with play.

    Fact is, unless you're China (where Play isn't available), you can't really sell an Android without the Play store. Has also pretty much always been true. Heck, Google managed to get exceptions to Taiwan's consumer protection laws (which everyone else, including Apple, agreed to follow) when Taiwan started enforcing them and Google withdrew Wallet support.

    Anyhow, there's an interesting absence on that list of companies forming the complaint.

    There is nothing stopping competitors from creating their own implementation of Google Play, with accompanying services, and eating Google's lunch. They just haven't chosen to do it.

  • Re:NOT capitalism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dutchmaan (442553) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @02:34PM (#43404287) Homepage
    Capitalism IS a form of government...
  • Re:ZERO FUCKS... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @12:01AM (#43408993)

    Unless you know of evidence that Google is forcing manufacturers to use Android at the expense of other systems, then no it's not even close to the same thing. Manufacturers are choosing to user Android. That's not Google's fault.

    Didn't Google strong arm Samsung and HTC into not releasing Windows Mobile/Windows Phone handsets...

    Oh wait, they didn't.

    Even if they did, Google would be met with a resounding "Fuck you, we've already got the source code".

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