Bloomberg News

Google Said to Face EU Demand for Mobile in Antitrust Settlement

July 20, 2012

Google Inc. (GOOG:US) is being urged by European Union regulators to include mobile applications as part of an offer to modify its search engine and end an antitrust probe, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Google made a proposal to the European Commission earlier this month to respond to EU concerns that the operator of the world’s largest search engine discriminates against rivals. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said last month that he would send Google a formal antitrust complaint if the company’s commitments were unsatisfactory.

Regulators want Google to extend the offer to mobile applications for smartphones and tablet computers, according to the people who can’t be identified because the negotiations aren’t public. Google is concerned that the EU request may make it more difficult for users to use its search apps, one of the people said.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, is under growing pressure from global regulators probing whether the company is thwarting competition in the market for Web searches. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and antitrust agencies in Argentina and South Korea are also scrutinizing the company.

Al Verney, a spokesman for Google, said in an e-mail that the company continues to work cooperatively with the commission.

In 2010, the EU’s antitrust agency began investigating claims Google discriminated against other services in its search results and stopped some websites from accepting competitors’ ads. While Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US) and partner Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO:US) have about a quarter of the U.S. Web-search market, Google has almost 95 percent of the traffic in Europe, Microsoft said in a blog post last year, citing data from regulators.

The Financial Times reported the EU request yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.


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