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Microsoft leads charge against Google's Android in EU antitrust complaint

'Failure to act will only embolden Google'

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Microsoft and Nokia have added Google's Android operating system to their list of antitrust grievances against the ad giant, and have filed a formal complaint with European regulators.

According to analysts, Android is currently the dominant smartphone operating system and Google also takes the biggest slice of mobile search advertising cash.

Lobby group FairSearch, a coalition of 17 search and tech firms including Oracle, MS and Nokia, said today that Google was using Android as a "Trojan horse" for Google apps, forcing users to choose the Chocolate Factory's map, email and video services.

"We are asking the Commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market," FairSearch beak Thomas Vinje said in a canned statement.

"Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system."

The European Commission is currently in the midst of an antitrust investigation into Google's search dominance and has yet to make any concrete decisions, although the antitrust office warned the firm in December that it had to convince its rivals it was competing fairly or risk sanctions for abuse of dominance.

EC competition chief Joaquin Almunia has previously talked about adding mobile to any anticompetitive settlement on search as Google tries to reach a compromise with the regulator over its PC-based services. With a new complaint, Almunia will have to decide whether to start an investigation into Android for its apps as well.

The commission has been looking into Google since late 2010, investigating whether the firm unfairly uses its search dominance to link to its own services, like Maps and YouTube, before others. Almunia's office has asked Google to come up with a proposal to clearly show the difference between results from the Chocolate Factory stable and those from competitors.

"I don’t know if you should call it labelling, or whatever, but they need to distinguish," Almunia has said.

"In some cases this can be achieved through the information you will receive through the natural search results. In other cases, maybe we will ask Google to signal what are the relevant options, alternative options, in the way they present the results."

The commission had not commented on the new complaint at the time of publication. ®

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