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EU competition chief stays in touch with Google via TEXT MESSAGES

'Get real, Eric' - Sent from my iPhone

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Google is on the verge of submitting proposed changes to its business practices to avoid sanctions over allegations it abuses its dominant position in the EU's search market.

It is understood the ad giant will this week hand in its homework to the competition watchdog wing of the European Commission, which is mulling claims Google promotes its own services in its search results to the detriment of its rivals.

Meanwhile, the EU's competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia has revealed that he regularly - and perhaps surprisingly - has text message conversations with Google's chairman Eric Schmidt.

"I have an open phone line, or email line, or SMS line at any moment," he told the New York Times in an interview.

His comments came as another complaint about Google landed on the commissioner's desk.

On Monday, Microsoft, Nokia and 15 other tech outfits griped about Google's Android mobile operating system in a formal antitrust complaint to Brussels' regulators.

Almunia is yet to decide whether he will take on board the new complaint, however.

Meanwhile, according to the NYT, the lengthy search and advertising case - which kicked off in 2010 - appears to be edging towards a settlement with the Commission, rather than Google being charged and slapped with a big fine.

Google has closely guarded its proposed concessions to Almunia. But the commissioner has indicated that Google will be required to go beyond simply labelling its services.

He told the NYT that a "real" choice needed to be offered to consumers that clearly distinguishes between products run by Google and its rivals in the search market.

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

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