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Google faces new antitrust complaint in Europe from Portuguese app store

Goliath of Mountain View, Ca. faces off against David of Lisbon.Goliath of Mountain View, Ca. faces off against David of Lisbon.
Goliath of Mountain View, Ca. faces off against David of Lisbon.Tony Avelar/Bloomberg—Getty Images

A start-up app store from Portugal has created a fresh headache for Google Inc (GOOG) in Europe, accusing it of blocking competition on devices that run on the company’s Android operating system.

The complaint contends that Google is using its dominance in Android operating systems for mobile phones to control the App Stores market, which consultants ABI value at $23 billion a year. According to research from Kantar, nearly three out of every four smartphones in the European Union.

“Aptoide is the world’s largest independent App Store for Android phones, but we are struggling to grow, even to survive, in the face of Google systematically setting up obstacles for users to install third-party App Stores in the Android platform and blocking competition in their Google Play store,” Paulo Trezentos,  co-founder and Aptoide chief executive, said in a statement.

The complaint alleges illegal bundling as Google couples Google Play, the dominant Android App Store, with its application programming interfaces, or APIs, which determine how software components interact with each other.

Aptoide accused Google of suspending it regularly from appearing on Google Play, thereby denying it  access to consumers and vice versa.

“We are only asking the Commission to restore fair competition in the market, so we can compete on our own merits“, stressed Álvaro Pinto, co-founder and Aptoide’s chief operating officer.

Aptoide’s complaint comes on top of the European Commission’s probe into suspected abuse by Google of its dominant position in the European search market, where it has a market share of over 90%.  That probe has been going on for four years already.

Google didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.