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EU files antitrust case against Google, also looking into Android

Posted by wicked April - 16 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

The rumors have been officially confirmed, as the European Union has filed antitrust charges against Google with regards to their search practices and business dealings. The formal complaint says that the tech giant has been “systematically favoring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages”. The commission has said they may also be opening an investigation into Google’s other business, Android, as they may also be infringing antitrust rules in their business dealings with other OEMs.

The crux of the charges is that Google has been skewing search results to favor their Google Shopping results to the determent of their competitors. This violates the antitrust law because “it stifles competition and harms consumers”. EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager emphasized that there is nothing wrong with Google’s dominance in the market, but rather what they want is for these dominant companies to not abuse their position through practices that will restrict fair competition among the other players.

This is not the first time that Google has faced accusations like these, with various cases brought against them in different courts. Companies like Microsoft and Tripadvisor among others have filed complaints in the past. The EU has been conducting this investigation for five years but it seems there is “a new sense of urgency” according to some news reports. With regards to looking into Android, they will be looking into whether or not Google has been “hindering the development and market access of rival mobile operating systems, applications and services to the detriment of consumers and developers of innovative services and products.”

Google has not officially responded to the news, but an internal memo that has been leaked suggests that obviously, the company disputes the charges and will fight the complaints with evidence of their own that will prove they have not violated any law. In the past, Amit Singhal, Senior Vice President for Google Search has said that the cases previously brought against them were dismissed and they were not able to back up their claims.

VIA: SlashGear (1), (2)

EU to reportedly file anti-trust charges against Google

Posted by wicked April - 15 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

If reports are to be believed, today will be a historic day for Google, and not in a good way. Rumors are swirling about that the European Union will finally be filing charges against the tech giant for violating antitrust laws. This may be the biggest battle of this kind since the anti-trust case against Microsoft almost a decade ago. While this will not come as a surprise since the investigation has been going on for five years already, it will definitely have huge financial consequences for Google should they lose the case.

The EU is acting on complaints that Google, which holds over 90% of Europe’s general search market, has been favoring its own services over those of their competitors which is a clear violation of the anti-trust law. There are four major areas of concern, as cited by the EU: bias in search results, rival websites’ content being scraped by the company, collusion with advertisers that may have been excluding search-advertising results from its rivals, and finally, contracts with marketers that may be limiting them from using other platforms.

They are also reportedly looking into Google’s business practices for its Android platform, which may turn into a formal investigation eventually. While there has been no official response yet from the company, sources say that they are already preparing a response, and that they are of course, very disappointed with this news. An internal memo shows charts, both from comScore and their internal data, showing that in fact, searches on Amazon and eBay is way higher than those from Google Shopping in Germany, France and the United Kingdom. They also claim that they have “a very strong case” in case charges will be filed.

This is serious business for Google, as they may face fines as much as $6 billion, which may be a drop in their bucket given their revenues. However, this will also lead to injunctions, modifying contracts with advertisers and clients, and of course, looking into their other businesses as well. A previous antitrust lawsuit against Google was dismissed by an American court just a few days ago.

VIA: WSJ, ReCode

Google issues internal memo to employees over EU antitrust lawsuit

Posted by wicked April - 15 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

Google_logo_474844It’s old news that the European Union has been investigating Google over antitrust claims that their dominance in the search engine market has created somewhat of a monopoly for the company. The EU is reportedly planning on instituting a 6.4 billion dollar fine on Google, which is a massive penalty, even for a company even like Google.

Google has already prepared a response to that judgment and they’ve sent out an internal memo to companies ahead of the announcement, which has some pretty interesting info in it. The memo shows how well Google does against other companies when it comes to things like shopping searches and what customers use when searching for travel information in other countries. The graphs included don’t show Google as a massive company with a complete strangehold on the market, as they’re consistently beat out by the likes of Amazon and eBay in countries like Germany, France, and the UK.

As an added note, Google also points out that by offering so many features within its search engine, its able to save time and effort for its users. Why would you not want to be able to check commute time and the weather in your search app while you’re already there?

This ruling will be interesting, but it certainly won’t be the end of the situation for Google, If you want to read the full internal memo, hit the link below.

source: re/code

Come comment on this article: Google issues internal memo to employees over EU antitrust lawsuit

WSJ: EU is preparing to hit Google with antitrust charges

Posted by wicked April - 2 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

 european union eu flag MPD01605

The European Commission is gearing to launch antitrust charges against Google over alleged anti-competitive practices.

Following more than five years of investigation and three unsuccessful settlement attempts, the European Commission, EU’s top antitrust authority, appears to be in the final stages of preparing formal antitrust charges against Google.

Google, which holds up to 90 percent of the search market in Europe, has been facing accusations of anti-competitive practices, including using its dominant position in search to funnel traffic to its own properties, rather than competitors’, “scrapping” content from news and media sites, and imposing unfair restrictions to companies that look to operate on its platforms.

According to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal, the EC is currently asking companies who have filed complaints against Google for the permission to publicize information that they supplied to the Commission confidentially. People familiar with the flow of antitrust investigations tell WSJ that this is a sure sign that the Commission will soon file formal antitrust charges against Google.

An eventual antitrust lawsuit would be the biggest since the famous suit against Microsoft, which the EC found guilty of anti-competitive behavior in promoting Windows and Internet Explorer. Microsoft paid $1.8 billion in fines and agreed to change its practices.

To be clear, there’s still time for Google and the EC to reach a settlement, though European leadership seems to favor formal charges over a settlement. And, even if Google is charged in an antitrust case, a settlement can be reached at any time. These type of affairs tend to drag on for years; if the EC finally decides to fine Google, it can slap the search giant with the equivalent of up to 10 percent of its annual revenue.

While Europe has been taking a more aggressive stance against Google, the Mountain View company had similar issues across the Atlantic. The FTC decided not to open an antitrust case against Google, but the decision has been controversial even among the regulator’s staff.

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ASUS launches Zenfone 2 in Europe

Posted by wicked March - 31 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

It was not a question really of if it would happen, it was more of when it would happen – and that day has arrived for ASUS to launch its new flagship phone the Zenfone 2 in Europe. Still buzzing from the record sales of its original Zenfone series – selling around 10 million units globally – ASUS is raring to see if people in Europe will take to the new improved flagship as well, having sold most of its units in Asia.

There will be three Zenfone 2 models out in the market in France starting March 31st, and while there is still no information on which countries will follow suit, we expect that information to be available shortly. The main version of the Zenfone 2, model number ZE551ML will be available for at a limited time offer of €299 or around USD$322. After the introductory price though, the standard retail will be €349, or USD$375.

zenfone2_france

This “flagship” model will have a whopping 4GB of RAM, 32GB internal storage, powered by a 2.3Ghz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 CPU. This will have a 5.5-inch full HD (1080p) display, microSD card expansion, 4G LTE connectivity, and a 13MP/5MP camera combo. The 3,000mAh battery is not bad as well, and it runs on Android Lollipop with ASUS’s ZenUI on top.

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There will be two other models, namely the Zenfone 2 ZE550ML and the lower-end Zenfone 2 ZE500CL. They will be sold at USD$268 and USD$193 respectively. Both phones will already be LTE capable. And if you’re not really sure about the Zenfone 2, ASUS is apparently willing to give you your money back within 2 months if you’re not satisfied.

VIA: GSM Arena

Xiaomi to open an accessory store in Europe too

Posted by wicked March - 4 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

Hugo Barra Xiaomi -19

Speaking at MWC, Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra announced that the company’s growing range of accessories will be heading to Europe at some point in the future. However, smartphones definitely won’t be sold through the e-commerce store.

Last month, Xiaomi made a similar announcement in San Francisco regarding opening an online store in the US. Although the company is not planning to sell smartphones in these regions any time soon, focus is still firmly on expansion in India, this store and the products on sale will offer essential feedback as Xiaomi tests the waters in Western markets.

“It’s going to be a different Mi.com experience from what we have in our markets in Asia, because we’re not selling phones… We’re only going to sell a small number of our hero accessories” - Hugo Barra

This is all part of the company’s brand awareness strategy. Xiaomi doesn’t just view itself as a smartphone manufacturer, but as a “lifestyle brand”. As well as smartphone accessories, such as power banks, fitness bands and headphones, Xiaomi also manufacturers low cost TV boxes, routers, and an air purifier designed for the Chinese market, some of which may also end up on sale in Europe sometime down the line.

Xiaomi has not announced any specific countries or dates for its new e-commerce store just yet.

Lollipop rolling out in Europe to HTC One M7

Posted by wicked February - 25 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

htc-one-m7

While the world still waits for the HTC M9 unveiling next week, replete with the is-it-or-isn’t-it debate regarding the design “rehash”, the Taiwanese company at-large hasn’t forgotten its plans on a (somewhat) timely Lollipop roll-out for its older hardware. In this case, we’re talking about 2013’s much-praised flagship, the One (M7).

As announced by HTC’s own Senior Global Online Communications Manager, Jeff Gordon, the Lollipop deployment is hitting Europe immediately. Judging by the comments on his Twitter feed, some users have already received the update, thus it’s only a matter of time before your device gets it, too.

The Lollipop update brings features like the lock-screen card UI element, a carousel-based recent app list,  and a modified quick settings menu, along with a host of other touches. It remains to be seen how many more updates the M7 will receive given that it’s quickly approaching a two year launch anniversary, but at the same time it’s also interesting how this phone received Lollipop before any of the “lesser” models released in 2014, such as the HTC Desire Eye.

Live in Europe and already received the OTA? Be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think of it!

Kyocera expands to Europe with ultra-rugged LTE phone

Posted by wicked February - 11 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

Kyocera is no stranger to the ruggedized mobile phone market, but it is the first time they are expanding their market reach to Europe. You might see one of the Japanese manufacturer’s phones here and there, or being used at one construction site or another – but this new model, the Kyocera Torque, marks Kyocera’s entrance into the European phone market.

Let’s understand the Kyocera Torque in the aspect that matters – rugged use. This ultra-rugged LTE phone is certified with the United States Military Standard (MIL-STD-810G) in 11 categories – including water immersion, dust, shock, salt fog and humidity among other variables. The phone’s touchscreen can be used with wet hands – with or without gloves (in cold weather). The phone also touts Kyocera’s proprietary technology for enhancing call audio, for making calls in very loud industrial and construction environments. The Torque also has built-in encryption to keep sensitive documents protected.

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So what’s under the hood? The Kyocera Torque is powered by a very serviceable Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core 1.4Ghz processor, a non-removable but robust 3,100mAh battery with wireless charging capabilities, all giving power to a 4.5-inch HD (720p) display. The phone gives users 4G LTE connectivity, or 3G/Edge where there is none available. There’s an 8MP/2MP camera combo for the odd photo you might need to take, and it runs on Android 4.4 KitKat.

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This new phone bears the same name as the one released in the United States in 2013, but it looks more like the Kyocera Brigadier (offered by Verizon) in design and aesthetics. The phone should be in the displays of Kyocera at the Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, and is scheduled to launch in France and Germany in the spring.

SOURCE: Business Wire

Lollipop is rolling out to the HTC One (M8) in Europe

Posted by wicked January - 28 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

one-m8-4

Last summer, HTC promised the One (M8) would be updated to Android L within 90 days of the release of the L source code to HTC. That term expires on February 3, and it looks that HTC will hold its promise, at least for users of One (M8) in Europe.

HTC communications executive Jeff Gordon teased the release of Lollipop to European variants of the M8 on Twitter:

Several users on Twitter and Reddit are confirming the arrival of the OTA update in Europe, as well as the Middle East. According to noted HTC ROM developer and leaker LlabTooFeR, the updated software version is 4.16.401.10 and the update weighs in at 780MB.

htc m8 lollipop Michal Foltak

HTC rolled out Lollipop to the developer and unlocked versions of the One (M8) earlier this month, but now the rollout is going out to carrier versions. As always, these rollouts go out in waves, and depending on your carrier (and luck), it may take a while before the OTA hits your phone. But it doesn’t hurt checking manually from the About Phone section.

There aren’t many visual changes, but core features like lockscreen notifications, floating notifications, the redesigned notification dropdown, and the new recent activities interface are all present.

Have you received the OTA on your One M8?

European Parliament votes in favor of Google break-up

Posted by wicked November - 27 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Europe flag

A rumor regarding the proposed breakup of Google Inc. by the EU Parliament appeared at the end of last week and seems to have been right on the money. Today, the EU Parliament took a vote Strasbourg, where 384 legislators voted in favor of the controversial initiative, with 174 against and 56 abstentions, despite last-minute objections from the US Congress.

There are two important points to note about this vote however. Firstly, the EU Parliament vote does not do anything to put such a motion into effect. This power remains firmly in the hands of the European Commission, which is the executive body responsible for proposing legislation. Although the vote has no practical effect yet, it is likely to apply additional pressure on the Commission to take a tougher stance against Google.

Secondly, the vote did not specifically mention Google by name and technically could apply to any search engine. Although, as Google has over a 90 percent market share in Europe, any legislation would pretty much be targeted exclusively at the search giant. Here’s the gist of what the vote was all about:

According to the EU Parliament, “the online search market is of particular importance in ensuring competitive conditions within the digital single market” and there is a “need to prevent online companies from abusing dominant positions”.

Therefore, the European Commission should act “to prevent any abuse in the marketing of interlinked services by operators of search engines” and the Parliament recommends “unbundling search engines from other commercial services.”

Many European politicians believe that Google’s dominant market position is a threat to the continent’s digital economy. The argument is that that information and online products cannot be fairly accessed without influence from the US tech giant.

“Many suppliers and providers don’t really have genuine access to consumers because there is market dominance by certain search engines.” Evelyne Gebhardt, Alliance of Socialists and Democrats

However, this sentiment is not shared by all politicians, some from within the EU have warned about increasingly protectionist policies being put through the parliament. Several US senators and congressmen also attempted to intervene by sending out letters which expressed their “great concern” about the proposal.

“We shouldn’t look for a scapegoat to explain our weaknesses,” Michal Boni, EPP lawmaker from Poland

Alongside the search engine vote, the same text also covered the hot topic of net neutrality and another call to remove remaining carrier roaming charges applied throughout the EU.

The EU’s recent digital legislation, including the controversial “right to be forgotten”, is already having an impact on Google’s services, but the pressure towards a breakup is likely to spell new trouble for the search giant in Europe.

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