EU Slams Google With €4.3bn Android Fine
Tech company, Google has been fined a record of €4.34bn ($5bn; £3.9bn) over Android by the European Union.
According to the Commission, the firm had used the mobile operating system to illegally “cement its dominant position” in search.
The firm’s parent Alphabet has been given 90 days to change its business practices or face further penalties of up to 5% of its average global daily turnover.
At a press conference in Brussels, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said consumers needed choice. She suggested the ruling could lead manufactures to sell smart devices using different versions of the Android operating system to Google’s, such as Amazon’s Fire OS, which she said they had been prevented from doing.
“This will change the marketplace,” she said.
Ms Vestager explained three ways that Google has acted illegally:
*It required Android handset and tablet manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and its own web browser Chrome as a condition for allowing them to offer access to its Play app store.
*It made payments to large manufacturers and mobile network operators that agreed to exclusively pre-install the Google Search app on their devices.
*It prevented manufacturers from selling any smart devices powered by alternative “forked” versions of Android by threatening to refuse them permission to pre-install its apps.
However, she acknowledged that Google’s version of Android does not prevent device owners downloading alternative web browsers or using other search engines.
The Competition Commissioner said the tech company carried out its abuse at a time when the mobile internet was growing quickly, helping it ensure its advertising-supported search service repeated the success it had already found on desktop computers. She therefore adviced the company to stop all of the practices outlined above and refrain from any measures with a similar goal.
Russia may give one example of how this could be achieved.
After similar complaints by the country’s regulator, Google now offers Android users a choice between Google, Yandex and Mail.ru as the default search engine the first time they use the Chrome browser.
Google has said it plans to appeal; although, the firm could easily afford the fine if required as its cash reserves totalled nearly $103bn at the end of March.
Sundae Pichai, Google’s chief executive has responded to the claim.
“Rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition and Android has enabled all of them,” he wrote.
“Today’s decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less.”