“European regulators are preparing what could be a stern challenge to Google Inc’s mobile software business in the coming months after a nearly four-year investigation into the company’s Web search practices left rivals and European politicians dissatisfied,” Foo Yun Chee and Alexei Oreskovic report for Reuters. “Two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said that with a new antitrust chief taking over in November, European regulators are laying the groundwork for a case centered on whether Google abuses the 80 percent market share of its Android mobile operating system to promote services from maps to search. The Commission has stepped up inquiries just in recent weeks, sending companies questionnaires that seek far more details than previous queries on the matter in 2011 and 2013.”

“In one questionnaire seen by Reuters, respondents were asked whether there was a requirement set by Google, written or unwritten, that they not pre-install apps, products or services on mobile devices that compete with Google software like its search engine, app store and maps,” Chee and Oreskovic report. “While any company is free to use the open-source Android as they choose, mobile handset makers that want to use the newest version must sign a contract that stipulates a minimum number of Google services be pre-installed on devices, according to a third source, a former Google executive with knowledge of the matter.”

“The European Commission is likely to start a formal probe into Android once it wraps up an investigation into whether Google ranks its own services higher than those of its rivals in search results, according to the two people with knowledge of the matter,” Chee and Oreskovic report. “One of the sources said going after Android would help stem a growing chorus of complaints.”

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MacDailyNews Take: Apple takes the world’s best customers, the bulk of the profits, and leaves the mid-low end with its attendant unit share and antitrust headaches to Google. Genius!