ICYMI: Get The Facts Ahead Of EC’s Decision On Android Investigation
The EC is expected to fine Google’s Android, a free and open software. As NYT’s Farhad Manjoo wrote in 2016, “If Google’s grand plan really is to keep rivals off Android phones, it sure is doing a poor job of it.” The EC’s analysis curiously concludes Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS are not competitors. What’s more, the FTC already investigated Google’s practices (including Android), and chose unanimously to close the investigation without legal action in 2013. Below is more on the EC’s misguided case against Google’s Android.
Unlike the competing Apple iOS, Android is open, free, and non-exclusive; phone manufacturers can, but don’t have to, pre-install Google’s suite of 11 apps, and remain free to pre-install competing apps.
—Google allows its competitors to pre-install their apps onto Android. Apple doesn’t. Apps that compete directly with Google “are easily available to Android users. Indeed many of these apps come pre-loaded onto Android devices in addition to Google apps.” (Hiroshi Lockheimer, “Android Has Helped Create More Choice And Innovation On Mobile Than Ever Before,” Google, 4/15/15)
—Manufacturers can freely add apps, including those that compete with Google apps, as can users. “Any manufacturer can then choose to load the suite of Google apps to their device and freely add other apps as well,” and “it’s simple and easy for users to personalize their devices and download apps on their own — including apps that directly compete with ours.” (Hiroshi Lockheimer, Android Has Helped Create More Choice And Innovation On Mobile Than Ever Before,” Google, 4/15/15)
—Competitor apps continue to succeed on Android phones, like Yelp. “In fact, Yelp’s app is currently ranked the #1 app in the Android Play Store’s travel and local section with over 10 million downloads.” (David Balto, Reviewing Yelp’s PR War Against Google, IJR, 6/11/18)
The European Commission investigation excludes Apple, whose iOS is proprietary and exclusive and which captures 87 percent of global mobile profits.
—The European Commission doesn’t view Apple iOS and Android as competitors, despite the perspective of Google critics and competitors like News Corp., which recently noted the opposite. “To define a market as narrow as ‘licensable mobile OS’ essentially means that there must be a separate market for ‘non-licensable mobile OS’ and that companies active in these two markets do not compete. In light of the ‘Apple factor,’ that is more than just counterintuitive.” (Jakob Kucharczyk, “Android, iOS, And Market Power — What Does Mobile Platform Competition Really Look Like?” Project DisCo, 9/21/16)
—Yet, both softwares compete for developer time and attention, with Apple’s iOS driving more revenue than Google’s Android… “Global app revenue climbed 35 percent in 2017 to reach nearly $60 billion, according to a new report today from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, which measured paid apps, subscriptions, and in-app purchases across both Apple’s App Store and Google Play. However, Apple is the one pulling in the most revenue, the report found – at nearly double that of Google Play.” (Sarah Perez, App Revenue Climbed 35 Percent To $60 Billion In 2017, TechCrunch, 1/08/18)
—And consumers are more likely to switch from iOS to Android than the other way around. “Lowitz stated, ‘the absolute number of users that switch to iOS from Android is as large or larger than the absolute number of users that switch to Android from iOS,” adding that “looking at absolute number of users in this way tends to support claims that iOS gains more former Android users, than Android does former iOS users.'” (Daniel Eran Dilger, “Survey calls Android buyers “more loyal,” but more users are still switching to iOS,” Apple Insider, 3/8/18)