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Google Is In Trouble In Europe: How The Android Antitrust Case May Affect Business

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The bigger the company, the bigger the target it becomes, and Google knows this all too well.

In the past, the search giant has been brought to court against regulators over its taxes, our privacy, and its competition.

Outside of the United States, Europe is the place where the company is finding its most vocal detractors, and now Android has become the next target.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, is slapping Google with new anti-competition charges related to its mobile operating system that powers billions of handsets around the world.

Just last year, the same body filed a complaint against Google for being way too good at what it does: search. The EU had said that its search dominance over the Internet led to Google favoring its own services over those of others.

This time, however, the commission is attacking Google's practices of requiring smartphone manufacturers and wireless telecommunications companies to preinstall Google's services such as Search and Chrome Browser on Android-based phones to access Google's Play app store. At the same time, the commission is also questioning Google's financial incentives to its Android partners for not installing competitor's software on their devices.

Unlike the search and advertising business that makes up a large piece of Google's profit pie today, Android's revenue pull pales in comparison. However, Android does play a vital role in the company's future, and should the EU succeed at its current efforts, Google's bottom line will take a hit.

If, for example, Google was forced to unbundle its Chrome Browser from Android while manufacturers like Samsung preload Microsoft's Bing instead, Google would see a drastic cut in mobile searches on its platform. Fewer searches going through Google also means fewer advertisements being served, and ultimately, a declining source of revenue for the search company.

Similarly, Google would then have to pay out even more to manufacturers like Samsung to keep Google's Search as the default app embedded in Samsung's TouchWiz version of Android.

Even if it would take years for any fines, charges, and mandates to be imposed by the EU, in the long term, Google's business will nonetheless be affected at least within the European Union.

Photo: Mac Morrison | Flickr

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