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Amazon just gave Google a big gift for its European antitrust problem

A bittersweet gift.

Brussels The Unofficial Capital Of The European Union Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

This morning, Amazon offered a gift to consumers. It’s a present for Google, too.

Amazon’s offer, as Recode reported, is discounting Android phones that come packaged with Amazon’s apps, another stab from the e-retailer at securing a foothold in mobile. On the surface, it’s bad for Google: Its apps come pre-installed on the rebated phones, but so do Amazon’s.

But Google will welcome the news for that very reason. It’s currently facing antitrust charges in Europe, which is accusing Google of using Android to exclude other search engines, app stores and browsers. Amazon just poked a hole in part of that theory.

Google won’t say this out loud now. But here’s my best approximation of the argument their lawyers in Brussels are making: Look at what Amazon is doing!

It’s bittersweet news for Google, though. Even if Amazon doesn’t sell many of these phones, its move — both putting its apps on phones and marketing electronics aggressively — is a reminder of its looming threat to Google’s lucrative product search business.

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