A recent complaint has pitted FairSearch—a lobby group with backers like Nokia, Microsoft, and Oracle—against tech giant, Google. Their major argument revolves around the alleged lack of competition in mobile ad revenue. Obviously, Google is the undisputed leader in the mobile search market, but the case claims that the popular Android operating system has even furthered that monopoly. In fact, FairSearch has gone as far as to say that Google engages in deceptive practices to maintain their power over the mobile advertising market. They’ve also referred to the Android OS as a “Trojan horse” of sorts.
The Case Against Google Search
The reasons behind this claim aren’t entirely unfounded. In fact, Google maintains about 96% of the mobile ad and search market worldwide. The Android OS also accounts for over 70% of all smartphone devices. The complaint is actually being taken to the European Commission, where Google is already trying to avoid litigation from a 2011 case that could require payment of up to $5 billion. Of course, business success can come with some of these natural pitfalls. Although the idea behind the free market is to become as powerful and make as much of an imprint as possible, the potential for non-competition or monopoly lawsuits is always there.
No company understands this better than prominent FairSearch sponsor, Microsoft. Microsoft has seen litigation in both the United States and the European Union alleging that their business model had exhibited some signs of non-competition. For instance, the Windows desktop operating system often came pre-loaded with a number of Microsoft products, effectively weeding out competitors. Of course, now the tables are turned as Google’s prowess in terms of the Android OS and mobile market have apparently stamped out competitors like Microsoft’s Windows Phone.
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Google’s Favoritism of Android
But, the core of the argument relies on the idea that Google has redirected the mobile search market directly to their Android devices. Ironically, this also comes on the heels of the release of Facebook Home, an integrated software overlay for Android-based devices that can eliminate the Google search bar from the home screen. Facebook Home is not initially expected to register on Google’s radar, but, over time, it could end up competing for mobile ad market superiority.
Still, the complaint will persist and it will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. It’s clear, even to uninitiated folks, that Google is at the top of its mobile game and it won’t be going anywhere for some time. Although Google might see dips in mobile advertising revenue, their 96% market share gives them a little leeway in that regard. In addition, the fact that the Android OS is open source and can be employed by a number of different hardware developers makes it easy to be reproduced and repackaged for users across the globe. So, the question in regard to Google’s prowess in both the mobile search market and the mobile operating system market is this: are they using fantastic business practices or malicious business practices? Apparently, the European Commission will have the final say.