advertisement
advertisement
advertisement

The EU is hitting Google with a $5 billion fine over Android dominance

The EU is hitting Google with a $5 billion fine over Android dominance
[Photo: Capri23auto/Pixabay]

The European Commission has announced that it is levying the 4.3 billion euro ($5 billion) fine against the search giant. The fine follows a three-year investigation into whether Google’s Android device strategy helped the company unfairly strengthen its dominance in search by requiring device manufacturers to set Google as the default search engine on the device. The $5 billion fine is a record as it’s the largest fine the European Commission has ever levied on a company. Google, of course, is expected to appeal the ruling.

According to the European Commission, Google has committed three antitrust violations. The company:

  • has required manufacturers to preinstall the Google Search app and browser app (Chrome) as a condition for licensing Google’s app store (the Play Store)
  • made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively preinstalled the Google Search app on their devices
  • has prevented manufacturers wishing to preinstall Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android that were not approved by Google (so-called “Android forks”)

Announcing the record fine, EC Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said:

“Today, mobile internet makes up more than half of global internet traffic. It has changed the lives of millions of Europeans. Our case is about three types of restrictions that Google has imposed on Android device manufacturers and network operators to ensure that traffic on Android devices goes to the Google search engine. In this way, Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits. They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.”

In response, Google spokesman Al Verney said:

“Android has created more choice for everyone, not less. A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition.”

Google’s assertation is backed by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the world’s top-ranked science and tech policy think tank. In a statement, ITIF vice president Daniel Castro said:

“The European Commission’s actions today are misguided and shortsighted. Google’s investment in the Android mobile operating system has created enormous value for consumers, developers, and device makers. The Android open-source project has led to the development of rival mobile operating systems like Amazon’s Fire OS, as well as many competing browsers, app stores, and search tools. Moreover, Google is the only company that has built a mobile ecosystem that rivals Apple’s, and rather than support this competition the Commission has weakened it. The Commission’s ruling is a blow to innovative, open-source business models, and other companies will likely think twice before trying to develop anything other than a proprietary, closed system.”

advertisement
advertisement