Google appears to have violated EU competition rules by imposing restrictions on mobile devices running its Android software, the European Commission said Wednesday following a year-long investigation.
"A competitive mobile internet sector is increasingly important for consumers and businesses in Europe," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
"We believe that Google's behaviour denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players," she added.
The commission, the European Union's executive, on Wednesday sent a statement of objections to Google spelling out its concerns. The US internet giant now has a chance to respond. The commission could then negotiate a settlement or hit Google with hefty fines.
About 80 per cent of mobile devices in Europe use Android as an operating system.
According to the Brussels institution, Google violated EU rules by requiring the pre-installation of Google Search and the company's Chrome internet browser on their devices if manufacturers wanted to license Google apps.
The company is also accused of preventing manufacturers from selling smartphones running on competitors' operating systems and of giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators if they exclusively pre-installed Google Search on their devices.
"The practices appear to close off ways for rival search engines to access the market via competing mobile browsers and operating systems," the commission said. "They also seem to harm consumers by stifling competition and restricting innovation."
Google's business has been under EU scrutiny for years, after competitors complained about its supremacy in the internet search engine market. The commission last year said that it also suspects the Google Shopping service of violating EU competition laws.