Google seeks to address competition concerns in Germany regarding bundling of its automotive services

Google has offered service unbundling and the removal of contractual restrictions in a bid to settle the regulatory intervention from the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO). The competition concerns arose due to Google’s bundling of Google Maps, Google Play, and Google Assistant in its offer to vehicle manufacturers. The FCO had sent a statement of objections to the tech giant, noting that its practices around GAS did not comply with Germany’s competition rules for large digital companies.

The FCO views Google’s bundling of services as a reduction of competitors’ chances to sell their services individually. This conduct could result in expanding market power and strengthening ecosystems. Google’s proposed remedies include offering three new products separately, allowing end users to download a wider choice of third-party apps, and removing contractual provisions imposed on sharing ad revenue and setting Google services as default applications.

The German regulator will carefully examine Google’s offer to determine if it resolves the competition concerns. Based on the results of the market tests, the FCO will decide whether Google’s proposals are capable of dispelling the concerns that have been raised. Google’s business was designated as subject to Germany’s special competition abuse control regime in January 2022 and the FCO has extracted a number of concessions from it over how it operates.

The FCO’s enforcement on Big Tech offers a glimpse of the types of actions that may be coming down the pipe across the bloc next year, when the deadline for compliance kicks in for the six in-scope DMA gatekeepers and their 22 core platform services. The full EU-wide Big Tech competition reboot won’t be up and running until next year, which may give the FCO reason enough to continue its scrutiny of Google Maps in the meanwhile.

The German regulator will continue to cooperate closely with EU competition authorities on regulating the digital economy. As of June 2023, the FCO said it would keep investigating Google’s terms of use for the Google Maps Platform (GMP), saying that its preliminary assessment is the tech giant would need to put an end to restrictions on combining its own GMP map services with third-party map services. This is part of the ex ante competition law reforms in Germany and across the EU to curb abusive behaviors by digital giants that may further entrench their massive market power.


Hot News