back to article Brussels paws Android map apps to see if they displace Euro rivals – report

The European Commission has reportedly widened the scope of its investigation into Google's alleged anti-competitive Android operating system tactics in the 28-member-state bloc. According to Bloomberg, officials at the antitrust wing of the European Commission have fired off missives to companies seeking their views on …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me

    If the other whinge bags put photo cars on the road so I can see buildings and landmarks as well (and for free) then I'd happily use them. In other words beat them with products rather than with a legal stick.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They are simply adopting the US business approach - if you can't compete, sue!

      1. wowfood

        Why innovate when you can litigate.

  2. DougS Silver badge

    They can't complain about this without complaining about the whole Android strategy

    If you want to use any Google services on Android you have to use them all. A vendor like Samsung can add a Samsung Maps app to the phone, but can't replace Google Maps.

    Since Google gives away the OS for free, how else are they supposed to make money if OEMs can pick and choose which services to include? Maybe Google ought to root for Apple or Microsoft to steal a bit of their Euro marketshare so they're taken below the monopoly threshold (2/3 in the EU IIRC?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They can't complain about this without complaining about the whole Android strategy

      Strictly speaking, nobody has to use any of the Google services on Android. You just can't remove the opportunity to use them.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about Apple?

    So they don't sue Apple for their lousy maps but they'll sue Google.

    All this is has become is more chicken shit cowardly politicians trying to use the courts to punish American competitors of European manufacturers.

    Except they ALL use Apple themselves (because all the luvies do) so they wouldn't want to upset their personal choice of phones

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: What about Apple?

      On the contrary, they're alleging that their businesses suffered due to illegal competition from Google. The 'illegal' part being up for grabs.

      In Apple's case, the business suffering part would be much harder to establish: in Europe Apple has only a 6% share in Spain, a 10% share in Italy and around 15% in France and Germany. Its 38% share in the UK hardly redresses the balance. Android's share is as high as 90% in Spain, through to more like 75% in France and Germany.

      Putting aside that nobody is being sued, it's therefore a lot more sensible to look at whether Google is performing both of the things necessary to establish anti-competive behaviour — both distorting the market, and using an unfair advantage to do so — than it is to look at Apple.

  4. Nik 2

    And the other lot?

    I presume there is a parallel investigation into the Apple mapping systems?

    1. fuzzie

      Re: And the other lot?

      No, because Apple doesn't have a dominant market position.

  5. Curly4
    Happy

    Unless the EU is interested in promoting antiquated technology they should be investigating their companies instead. Now I am kind of old fashion and don't keep up the latest gadgets and I use a Garmin. My son has a modern smart phone and uses google to navigate. His can update minute by minute as needed to reflect the traffic conditions whereas my Garmin does not. When I do get a new smart phone I will no longer need the Garmin (Tom Tom, etc) for the phone will do everything the gps does and much more.

    If the EU gps companies ei Tom Tom etc don't want to lose business let them move into the modern world and produce a better product, one that is better than the others out there and it will have users.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      They have moved

      f the EU gps companies ei Tom Tom etc don't want to lose business let them move into the modern world and produce a better product

      They have. Tom Tom maps are licensed to Sygic which on Android beats Google Maps hands down. I have clocked in excess of 18K miles around Europe using it and compared to it Google Maps are still (till this day) a joke. Tom tom also has its own app for Apple if memory serves me right.

      1. ArthurHH

        Re: They have moved

        "They have. Tom Tom maps are licensed to Sygic which on Android beats Google Maps hands down......... Tom tom also has its own app for Apple if memory serves me right."

        Maps are not the same as navigation. Sygics navigation sucks in a very major way (although the maps look nice). It is less than acceptable. There are many many better alternatives out there. (search navigation on Google Play).

        TomTom has an app for Android as well. However their paranoia about map security cripples it. Like the stand alone devices updating is a major PIA.

        The sooner TomTom and Garmin die the better the navigation experience will be.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Lets face it the main advantage of Google maps is it is "free" (in return for bending you over and lubing you for privacy violations).

      It works well if you have a good data link, but outside of 3G+ areas, or in cities when your chosen supplier is shit at times (looking at you Tesco mobile), the result is crap. I use it occasionally and sure it is nice to have, but if I had to depend on something for daily use would not be Google's offering.

      1. Andrew Jones 2

        The latest update to Google Maps brings saving up to 2.5GB of map data (per area) for offline use which includes offline navigation and business listings.

      2. fuzzie

        The point behind the complaint is that all Android OEMs are forced to ship Maps. That's predominantly how Google Earth, the web site version suddenly became the dominant mobile mapping solution. You could argue that before that Nokia tried the same with their maps, but their market share was never dominant.

        Supposedly Google's insistence on Google Maps scuppered Nokia's early considerations to move to Android when Symbian started to lose its lustre. I'm still a big fan of HERE maps (on Android now).

        1. nijam

          > You could argue that before that Nokia tried the same with their maps, but their market share was never dominant.

          How soon we forget! Nokia's market share was very dominant. But they were European, so no problem.

  6. Test Man

    First things first - Google Maps isn't a patch on TomTom - it doesn't matter the cost, TomTom is simply better.

    Lastly, have you seen StreetMaps lately? No innovation at all. AT ALL. It's the same as it was around 15 years ago, but now even more full of ads.

    1. ArthurHH

      "First things first - Google Maps isn't a patch on TomTom - it doesn't matter the cost, TomTom is simply better."

      Better at what? The maps are pretty and the navigation algorthms are good, but the devices and TomTom infrastructure are pants. Add to that if you buy a ToMTom device you also have to supply a Windows computer to update it, even though TomTom is based on Linux.

      "Lastly, have you seen StreetMaps lately? No innovation at all. AT ALL. It's the same as it was around 15 years ago, but now even more full of ads."

      StreetMaps? what's that?

      I know about the Open Streetmap project and also Googles StreetView.

      Don't like adds, get an adblocker or stop being a freeloader.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        @ ArthurHH Cannot comment on new TomTom kit, however...

        I have an old TomTom satnavdevice, I think it suffers from similar issues to iPods - lockin to file format used by first OS used to configure it.

        I installed the initial software / map updates to TomTom satnav via a UNIX based system (Mac - they provided software for OSX - not sure if still the case)

        Since then, if I try to update the satnav from a windows machine I cannot due to some file format issues, updates only possible from Mac.

        Though must say there was only Windows / OSX software tools provided, nothing Linux specific

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Freeloader here

        Using openstreetmaps and maps.me

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Freeloader here

          > Using openstreetmaps and maps.me

          And on an Android thing, the best way to use OpenStreetMap (that I know of) is OsmAnd or OsmAnd~. The source code and bug tracker are at that popular place.

          Bona fide proletarians, hipsters, those who no points left in their driving licence, and anyone wanting to try that amazing experience called public transport head over to Transportr.

          Enjoy! :-)

    2. MrWibble

      Streetmap was probably the first full online mapping system (in the UK at least). However, they thought that was good enough, and were soon overtaken by pretty much everyone else - Google, Bing, Here, etc. kept updating and innovating. Streetmap hasn't simple.

      1. smartypants

        Opportunity wasted

        Streetmap had a great USP... OS MAPS. They sat on their fat arses with a shit interface for years rather than innovating, though to be fair I bet the terms of use of the data were onerous. (data which should be free to consumers as we've all paid for it).

        There is so much more they could have done to keep people engaged. I don't feel sorry for them.

  7. strum

    There does seem to be general misunderstanding of the issues here.

    It doesn't matter whether Google Maps is the best of the bestest. If it deprived other options of a chance at fair competition, then Google are in breach of the law.

    Some of those other options might have come up with innovations unthought-of by Google (or the very same ones it did think of), if they had had the usage that was denied them by uncompetitive behaviour.

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