Google faces fresh antitrust complaint in Europe, this time over Android practices

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is facing a new antitrust complaint in Europe that it is abusing its market power, this time regarding the dominance of its Android operating system.

Aptoide, a Portuguese company that provides an independent Android mobile application storefront, filed a formal complaint against the search giant, officials at the office of European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told PCWorld.

Aptoide claims that Google is using its dominant position to control the market for Android apps through its Google Play store. "For no reason, Google regularly suspends Aptoide from appearing on Google Play thereby depriving the startup of accessing consumers and vice versa," Aptoide said in a statement released Tuesday.

"The European Commission has been very active in detecting situations of abuse of a dominant position," Aptoide co-founder and CEO Paulo Trezentos told CNET. "We believe that our case is strong and that can help the EC to work with Google to correct these practices."

Trenzentos added to the Wall Street Journal: "We are struggling to grow, even to survive, in the face of Google systematically setting up obstacles for users to install third-party app stores in the Android platform and blocking competition in their Google Play store." Android dominates smartphone market share in Europe with 72.4 percent share, according to recent figures from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Google declined to comment, according to the Journal.

Aptoide says it has 6 million unique monthly users and 200,000 titles in its store, and plans to "join forces with other independent app stores to forge a common front" against Google. According to GigaOM, Aptoide claims that Google blocks fully-functional third-party app stores from appearing in Google Play and has also made it increasingly more difficult to install apps from third-party sources. The company also claims that Google unfairly bundles the Play store with other Google mobile services such as Google Maps and Google Drive. Further, Aptoide claims that Google's Chrome browser blocked the page for the Aptoide installer on the basis that it contained malware, despite the company's protestations to Google that it is safe.

Google is facing other EU antitrust complaints, including one brought by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Oracle that Google uses Android to promote its own apps on smartphones.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this PCWorld article
- see this CNET article
- see this GigaOM article

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