Leonid Bershidsky argues that, if the European Union is going to penalize Google for pre-installing and bundling its applications on the Android operating system, then it should do the same to Apple for iOS. He says that this is the best way to break up monopolies and promote quality development.
The European Commission had solid antitrust reasons for fining Google 4.3 billion euros ($5 billion) for violations including the bundling of certain apps with the Android operating system — and for not going after Apple for similar behavior. Yet, from a consumer’s point of view, Apple should get the same kind of attention.
The most important infraction by Google in the EU ruling is the “illegal tying” of its search and browser apps to the Android operating system. The search giant, the ruling said, made Android phonemanufacturers preinstall its search and browser applications if they wanted to provide access to the Google Play Store, where almost all Android users get their apps. That, according to the European Commission, reduced the ability of other search providers and browser developers to compete because preinstallation creates a “status-quo bias”: Users are too lazy to research alternatives to apps that are already on their new phones.
As a consumer, I’d like all phone makers, whether their gadgets run Android, the iOS, Samsung’s Tizen, Linux or something even more exotic, to offer me a choice of apps. When setting up a new phone, users should see a list of browser apps, with ratings from users and independent reviewers, along with a list of email applications and mapping and navigation apps. The lazier users could just hit a button for installing all the apps recommended by the operating-system producer.