Google hit with €4.3 billion fine by European Union over antitrust breach

19 July, 2018, 00:38 | Author: Mary Valdez
  • Google faces $5 billion fine over Android - report

Google has been slapped with a record €4.3bn (£3.8bn) fine over claims that the tech giant abused its dominance in the mobile operating systems market.

Google's contracts also prevented handset makers selling phones using other versions of Android, the European Union said.

Google made payments to certain (unspecified) large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-install the Google Search app on devices. Google Assistant is now one of the company's highest priorities, as AI is seen as the next frontier in tech.

Google's own Play Store, which is used to distribute television shows, movies, applications, and ebooks, accounts for more than 90 per cent of all software downloaded on Android devices in Europe. Google said it would appeal the decision.

It is the largest fine imposed by the European Union regulator against a single firm, after a three-year investigation into Google following a complaint by Fairsearch in 2015.

Google has been fined a record amount of 4.3 billion euros, which is almost $5.04 billion by the European Union's Competition Commission, in a ruling on the Android antitrust case.

Google says it will appeal the decision. According to EC, Google has imposed illegal restrictions on Android OEMs and mobile network operators to maintain its dominant position in search and other services.

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As a result, Google Search and Chrome are pre-installed on the "significant majority" of devices sold in the EU, the European Commission says. The ecosystem carries all the properties needed for a fair competition - "rapid innovation and lower prices".

Google has built a massive business of banner and videos ads, thanks largely to its central role on Android devices. Google parent Alphabet and the commission both declined to comment on the Android fines.

Pichai also points out the multitude of alternatives to Google's preinstalled apps, which can be installed in a few taps, noting that apps like Firefox and Opera have been installed millions of times. "This harmed competition by significantly reducing their incentives to pre-install competing search apps", the EC said, but noted this practice ended in 2014. And if Google doesn't change its business practices, the cost could grow even higher, with penalty payments added after 90 days. Google would also need to stop preventing forked Android versions from coming to the market without its approval.

An EU complaint formally lodged in April also accuses Google of preventing manufacturers from selling smartphones that run on rival operating systems based on the Android open source code.

She is expected to announce a record fine against Google for using its Android mobile operating system to block rivals at the news conference.

Smartphone makers could still include Chrome and Google Search, but they wouldn't be bound to do so. They've stated that Android has given customers more freedom, not less.

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