Google has come out fighting against the European Commission's claims that the firm abuses its Android dominance to block competitors out of the market, insisting that the case is a danger to open source software and its developers.
We knew this was coming, as Google issued a similarly worded statement last week related to the EC investigation into its Shopping service.
The firm's latest statement responds to the Statement of Objections filed by the EC in April, and comes as the EC begins a formal investigation into the Android operating system.
Google denies any wrongdoing, and claimed that the open source nature of Android has stimulated innovation and increased choice for consumers, and means that manufacturers don't have to build or buy expensive operating systems.
A blog post by Google general counsel Kent Walker spelled out three key points that he believes the EC has got wrong, and concluded by saying that the case could have serious consequences for open source software and the future of smartphones.
Firstly, Walker argued that the EC's case is based on the idea that Android doesn't compete with Apple.
"We don’t see it that way. We don’t think Apple does either. Or phone makers. Or developers. Or users," he said.
"In fact, 89 per cent of respondents to the Commission’s own market survey confirmed that Android and Apple compete. To ignore competition with Apple is to miss the defining feature of today's competitive smartphone landscape."
Next, Walker insisted that the EC's claims underestimate the importance of developers and the dangers of fragmentation in a mobile ecosystem, which is a well-documented problem with the firm's mobile software.
He explained that Android's compatibility rules "help minimise fragmentation and sustain a healthy ecosystem for developers", and pointed out that 94 per cent of respondents to the EC's own survey said that fragmentation harms the Android platform.
"Developers worry about it, and our competitors with proprietary platforms (who don’t face the same risk) regularly criticise us for it. The Commission’s proposal risks making fragmentation worse, hurting the Android platform and mobile phone competition," said Walker.
Finally, he talked of the EC's complaint that Android phones come stuffed full of the firm's own apps, pointing out that iOS and Windows Phone do exactly the same thing.
"No manufacturer is obliged to preload any Google apps on an Android phone. But we do offer manufacturers a suite of apps so that when you buy a new phone you can access a familiar set of basic services," explained Walker.
"Android’s competitors, including Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows Phone, not only do the same, but allow much less choice in the apps that come with their phones."
Walker concluded by pointing out that the EC's claims spell bad news for open source, which could in turn mean doom and gloom for the future of the smartphone market.
"Open source platforms are fragile. They survive and grow by balancing the needs of all participants, including users and developers," he said.
"The Commission’s approach would upset this balance, and send an unintended signal favouring closed over open platforms. It would mean less innovation, less choice, less competition and higher prices.
"That wouldn’t be just a bad outcome for us. It would be a bad outcome for developers, for phone makers and carriers and, most critically, for consumers."
If Google's argument doesn't do the trick, the EC could fine the company up to 10 per cent of global turnover, around $7.4bn (£5.9bn).
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