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Google fires back at EU antitrust charges over Android

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Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, formally responded to the European Union’s antritrust allegations on Friday over its Android operating system.

Senior vice president and general counsel Kent Walker rejected the EU charge that the company used its Android operating system to advance dominance over the market.

{mosads}The EU contended that Alphabet had unfairly tried to boost Android by pre-installing apps like Google Search, the Google Play store and its Chrome web browser on Android phones.

In a blog post, Walker wrote that Android was already at a disadvantage in the market because many third-party phone manufactures altered the Android operating system on their devices, preventing customers from a uniform experience.

Android competitor Apple, comparatively runs its own operating system on a limited number of proprietary platforms and devices created by Apple.

“Any phone maker can download Android and modify it in any way they choose,” Walker wrote “But that flexibility makes Android vulnerable to fragmentation, a problem that plagued previous operating systems like Unix and Symbian.

Walker said they pre-installed some apps on Android devices to improve the customer experience.

“To manage this challenge, we work with hardware makers to establish a minimum level of compatibility among Android devices,” he said.

Alphabet’s general counsel noted that Android competitors Apple and Microsoft also pre-installed certain apps on mobile devices featuring their operating systems.

Walker also hammered EU officials for not including Apple as a rival to the Android OS when considering the market.

“To ignore competition with Apple is to miss the defining feature of today’s competitive smartphone landscape,” Walker wrote.

“The truth is that Android is today a closed operating system, and any claim to the contrary is disingenuous. Google imposes severe sanctions on those who defy its insistence on conformity,” FairSearch lawyer Thomas Vinje said in a statement to Reuters.  

Android isn’t the only product that has the attention of European antitrust regulators.

Earlier in November, Walker formally responded to separate EU antitrust charges regarding Alphabet’s comparison shopping service and its Adsense advertising service.

According to Reuters, the EU intends to fine Alphabet a potentially multi-billion dollar amount over the shopping and Android allegations.

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