updated 01:10 pm EDT, Wed June 18, 2014
Claims Google abusing position over third-party app store measures
Google is abusing its position as the dominant Android app store, according to an antitrust complaint from another app marketplace. Aptoide, a store from Portugal that hosts 200,000 apps and has 6 million active users, has met with European Commission representatives in the last week, and claims that Google makes it unfairly difficult for Android users to use a different app store with their device instead of Google Play.
Four arguments have been made by Aptoide, reports GigaOM. A non-compete clause in the Play Store terms and conditions prevents fully-functional third-party app stores from being listed, with those that do claimed to be "nothing more than catalogs" which point user to existing Play listings. Aptoide also claims Google has made it harder for users to install apps from third-party stores, with focus group testing results showing users could perform the action in Android 2.1 80 percent of the time, with the figure shrinking to just 20 percent for Android 4.0.
It is also suggested the Google Mobile Services suite that comes pre-installed on authorized devices unfairly adds Google Play to devices, something which does not directly give the user the option to buy apps elsewhere. Lastly, Aptoide claims the page hosting the installer for Aptoide was blocked because of apparent malware infestations, and though the company has attempted to demonstrate it is safe to Google for the last four weeks, the search giant has yet to respond.
It is also alleged that Google makes the inclusion of Google Play mandatory alongside search agreements with carriers. CEO Paulo Trezentos claims "They pay telecoms to ship phones with their search and now they start to bundle search and Play." Aptoide points to China as an example of a country with a thriving and competitive app store marketplace, one where Amazon flourishes and where Google Play does not exist.
The European Commission has yet to comment on the complaint, aside from confirming it has been received.
This is not the only antitrust issue occurring between Google and the European Commission. An ongoing complaint about anti-competitive behavior in search triggered a three-year investigation, and has led to Google submitting numerous proposals for search report modifications to avoid potential fines of up to $5 billion.