Google back on Europe’s hit list over Android OS abuses

European regulators are ready to launch yet another probe into Google that will try to ascertain whether it is using its monstrous 80 per cent share of the European mobile market to abuse its position on the continent.

Two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters that the arrival of a new antitrust chief in November should usher in the new case that follows a recently closed case that looked at Google’s abuse of its dominant position in the search market.

It’s believed that this case is a lot more detailed than the previous one with the EC sending out questionnaires to companies that have worked with the firm in the past on mobile matters.

One such questionnaire, which has been seen by Reuters, asks companies whether Google made it a requirement that companies not pre-install apps, products or services on mobile devices that compete with Google software, such as its search engine, app store or maps.

Firms are also being asked to provide any emails, faxes, letters, notes from phone calls and meetings, and presentations from as far back as 2007 that have involved the mobile OS.

Respondents have until the beginning of September to reply to a list of over 40 questions so that regulators can ascertain whether Google forced firms to comply with its way of thinking.

A third source stated that Google has started to stipulate that any company wanting to use the newest version of its OS must sign a contract that makes sure that a minimum number of Google services are installed on a device.

An additional source believes that going after Android is the only way the EC can pacify a growing tide of firms that are have been left frustrated at a deal cut by the firm’s search arm with European Commission antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia.

“It’s a political game. Can Almunia afford not to bring a case? He has to bring a case,” the source said.

Alasdair Young, professor at Georgia Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs added that it is in “a stormy patch” in Europe right now and called it “unusual for a company to be hit by so many big policy threats at the same time.”

It’s very likely that Google, wanting to avoid a drawn out legal case, will look to nip the issue in the bud fairly quickly and if it manages to reach a similar agreement to the earlier case then it will consider it a small victory.