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The EU’s Antitrust Chief Is Not Shy About Texting Eric Schmidt

Why bother calling the lawyers?

Forget the red phone. The European competition commissioner and Eric Schmidt have a more modern means of communicating about maybe-maybe-not antitrust-violating business practices: SMS!

The New York Times reports that even as Joaquín Almunia hashes out a final settlement over the way Google handles its search and advertising businesses, he’s received a new complaint from companies including Nokia and the perpetual whiners at Microsoft. They say Google uses Android “to promote its own products and services in a majority of smartphones sold to consumers.”

But that doesn’t mean the pair have to communicate solely through lawyers and strategic leaks to the press. Mr. Alumina is hip. He gets technology! (He even chatted with Sheryl Sandberg at Davos about “the relationship between the search activity and the social network’s activity, but they were general conversations,” he informed the Times).

And that’s why he feels free just hittin’ up Eric with a text. The Times reports:

Joaquín Almunia sometimes sends Eric E. Schmidt a text.

Like his predecessors, Mr. Almunia has the power to block mergers or fine companies billions of dollars. But where he differs is in how comfortable he is in communicating with executives across the table — or the ocean — to negotiate settlements that avoid long battles.

“I have an open phone line, or e-mail line, or SMS line at any moment,” Mr. Almunia said in an interview Monday.

Bet Mr. Schmidt has approximately 500 unanswered texts from Kim Jong-Un, who just wants to be pals.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com