THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) is gearing up to whack Google with a multi-billion dollar fine for abusing its dominance through its Android operating system.
The Financial Times reports that a ruling from EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager could come within weeks, and it's expected that watchdog will conclude that Google imposed illegal terms on Android device makers "which harmed competition and cut consumer choice".
The report says Vestager is "poised to announce the negative finding within weeks ... marking the most significant regulatory intervention made against Google's business model."
It's not yet clear how mega the EC's fine will be, but the FT notes that the watchdog can impose a penalty of up to $11bn (around £8.2bn), which is 10 per cent of Alphabet's global turnover.
The European Commission opened its investigation into Android in 2015, following a complaint two years earlier from the lobbying group FairSearch. The group complained that Google was abusing its dominant position in the mobile operating system market by pre-installing its own services and apps onto Android smartphones
"We believe that Google's behaviour denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services, and stands in the way of innovation by other players," EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement at the time.
"Our concern is that by requiring phone makers and operators to pre-load a set of Google apps, rather than letting them decide for themselves which apps to load, Google might have cut off one of the main ways that new apps can reach customers."
Google, naturally, has long argued that it's done nothing wrong, saying in April 2016 that its business model "keeps manufacturers' costs low and their flexibility high, while giving consumers unprecedented control of their mobile devices."
The EC's incoming fine won't be the first Google has faced in Europe. Last year, the competition watchdog hit the firm with a €2.4bn fine following a seven-year investigation into the firm's "anticompetitive" Shopping service.
This fine - at least until the EC's next ruling is made - is the biggest antitrust fine handed out by the EC to date, trumping the €1.06bn fine handed to Intel back in 2009. µ
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