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EU Charges Google For Unfairly Leveraging Android Operating System


Now to Google versus the European Union. At first, the fight was over Google unfairly promoting its preferred shopping results. Now, there's a battle over its operating system, Android. NPR's Aarti Shahani explains.

AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: As if being the number one search engine weren't enough, Brussels charges, the American giant is unfairly leveraging Android. Thomas Vinje, lawyer for the lead complainants, a nonprofit called FairSearch, lays out the argument. Point one - Google is telling phone makers, you can't just take one app like Google Play or Chrome or YouTube; it's a package deal.

THOMAS VINJE: They're saying that if you take Google search, for example, then you must also take other Google applications, as decided by Google.

SHAHANI: Point two - phone manufacturers split advertising revenue with Google on search, but to get the money, they can't preload other search engines like Microsoft Bing. Google is like this controlling lover.

VINJE: We've got to be exclusive or you don't get any money, you don't get any share of the revenues derived from searches on your devices.

SHAHANI: Point three - phone makers have to take the android operating system as-is from Google or build their own version.

VINJE: And so these anti-fragmentation agreements - is what they're called - prevent phone manufacturers from innovating.

SHAHANI: Google points out that lots of companies put their apps in a suite - take Microsoft Office. Plenty of other companies, like Amazon, have figured out how to use Android on their own. And consumers like Google apps, so the company is providing a valuable service, keeping costs low and flexibility high for manufacturers. If found guilty, the company could be fined billions of dollars. Aarti Shahani, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.