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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Google Says It Has ‘Very Strong Case’ in European Antitrust Battle

A Google building at the company’s main campus in Mountain View, Calif. in 2014.
Alistair Barr
Google told employees Tuesday it has a “very strong case” against expected charges by European regulators that it violated antitrust law by favoring its own services in search results.
In an internal memo, Google warned employees to expect formal charges Wednesday from the European Commission over the way it displays and ranks certain search results, particularly for shopping. It also said the regulator will open a formal investigation into its Android mobile operating system on Wednesday.
In the memo, Google outlined a potential defense, saying its search engine saves consumers time by providing quicker, more direct answers to queries. The company said it faces competition from other general search services, like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft Cortana, as well as specialized search services from , Expedia and eBay .
The rise of mobile apps lets people access information directly, cutting Google’s search engine out of the equation. Google said seven out of every eight minutes on mobile devices is spent within apps. It cited Yelp, a major Google critic that has complained to European regulators, as an example. Yelp has said that over 40% of its traffic comes direct from its mobile app, Google noted.
“Competition online is thriving — despite what many of the complainants in this case allege,” the memo said.
The memo included charts showing steady or growing numbers of visitors to shopping sites in the U.K., Germany and France and travel sites in Germany, citing data from online-tracking firm comScore.
With respect to the Android investigation, Google said apps that compete directly with Google’s, such as Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft Office, and Expedia are easy for Android users to download and many come pre-loaded onto Android devices. The company cited the new Samsung S6 smartphone, which it said came with apps from Facebook, Microsoft, and Google pre-installed.

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