Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for competition, accused Google of pursing “an overall strategy on mobile devices to protect and expand its dominant position in internet search”.
She issued a Statement of Objections against the web giant, a charge sheet that marks the first formal stage towards potential fines of up to a tenth of its $75bn annual turnover.
The Android charges are the second competition case Ms Vestager has brought against Google since her appointment 18 months ago, after she took a harder stance in a long-running investigation of its alleged abuses in the market for specialised web search.
She said: “We have no grudge against any company. We have an obligation to look at whether behaviour is anti-competitive or an abuse of dominance.”
Competition officials in Brussels launched an investigation over concerns that manufacturers of Android smartphones were not free to install operating systems from Google’s rivals, or to do deals with competing search engines to help them get a foothold in the mobile market.
Ms Vestager said that Google controls more than 90pc of the market for mobile operating system licensing in Europe.
According to the Commission’s statement of objections, Google abuses this dominance to place “unjustified restrictions” on smartphone manufacturers and mobile operators.
It seeks to ensure that its dominance of mobile search is maintained, imposing conditions on licences for the “must have” Google Play app store, Ms Vestager said. In order to install the app store, manufacturers must agree to also install the Google search app and Google Chrome web browser, according to the charges.