EU: Android May Trump iPad Antitrust Concerns

While various aspects of the European Union’s regulatory bodies are taking a gander at Apple’s subscription plans for its iPad tablet empire, the reality is that Google’s Android platform may be enough of a competitor to stave off any antitrust concerns, at least according to one commissioner. Bloomberg reported comments to a Belgian lawmaker about the issue that suggest there’s no hurry from the body to go after Apple’s iPad as some form of monopoly.

The background for the story comes in the weeks leading up to Apple’s announcement of a subscription system for in-app content on the App Store. After News Corp. announced The Daily — an iPad-only (for now) newspaper — and it was revealed that Apple was getting 30% of the subscription revenue from the app, publishers in Europe and America began expressing concern that Apple’s plans would not be good for their businesses.

In the European Union, these cries were taken seriously, and various national lawmakers, regulators, and EU agencies expressed an interest in Apple’s plans (earlier on Friday we also reported that the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are also interested).

On February 11th, four days before Apple unveiled its plans and five days before Google unveiled a similar subscription plan, one EU commissioner told Belgian lawmakers that it’s way too early to even tell if Apple has a monopoly, and noted that there is already robust competition in the tablet market.

“Alternative applications platforms exist and several companies have recently launched or are expected to launch in the near future a number of devices similar in terms of functionality to the iPad,” EU commissioner Andris Piebalgs wrote to a Belgian member of the European Parliament.

It’s important to iterate that though these comments are just being reported on Friday, February 18th, they were made on February 11th, before Apple’s actual plans were announced. It’s also important to note that one comment to one lawmaker from one EU commissioner does not equate to an official stance from all of the EU’s regulatory agencies.

Still, this is a clear counter to the huffing and puffing that was coming out of some quarters, and it acknowledges that though Apple may be selling the most tablets (and making more than the lion’s share of app revenues), Android device makers face few barriers to joining the fray.