Just a few month’s ago, Google’s antitrust headaches in Europe appeared to be winding down. Now, though, it appears that the company’s troubles may be just beginning as EU authorities are set to ramp up investigations over whether it is abusing monopoly power.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that EU regulators are about to grill Google over allegations that it is using its control over the Android operating system to favor its own apps, and to exclude competition.
The Journal report, which confirms a Reuters account from last week, suggests the EU is acting on complaints by a Portuguese app store that the company is using noncompete clauses to require Android device makers to steer users to the Google Play Store and products like Google Maps. A class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. in May made similar allegations.
For Google, the new EU investigations are a setback because the company had reached a settlement to end complaints about its search practices. That deal, however, is now on the rocks after critics said it was too lenient, despite the fact that European Union’s antitrust chief, Joaquín Almunia, made several revisions to strengthen the settlement.
Now, Almunia is heading out the door, and it appears that the Google investigation will fall to a successor, who could take a more hardline approach. The upshot is that the new Android probe, combined with the now-ongoing discussions over search, mean Google could be up to its neck in antitrust problems in Europe for months or years to come.