GOOGLE IS on its way to being clobbered with another almighty fine from the European Union over matters of antitrust involving searching and browsing tools in (mostly Android) smartphones.
Rumours started to swirl that if the decision goes as expected, it could mean that Android as we know it would change.
The EU believes that forcing third-party OEMs such as Samsung and OnePlus to default to Google as a search engine or lose access to the Google Suite of apps - everything from Google Documents to the Play Store itself - is anticompetitive.
Not having the Play Store is particularly bothersome - it lures people towards third-party app stores which are more likely to be laden with unexpected extras like malware and spyware.
The payout demand is likely to run into billions, and also require Google to give the option for changing your search engine.
It's generally expected that Google will be told it can no longer do "deals" over access to parts of its ecosystem as a result of an OEM's choice of default search provider.
For those not familiar with this story, you may be thinking that this is no big deal for Google, but think about the wider ramifications. Android and Google are a good fit because one feeds the other - Android users provide Google with searches which provide it with revenue, and more importantly, all those precious bits of user data we keep hearing about.
If the EU puts a stop to that, it could make Google rethink its entire approach to Android. That could take the form of more advertising, more expensive hardware, withdrawing Android from the open source, or in extremis, withdrawing from the market altogether (we're pretty sure it won't come to that).
It was rumoured that the plan was to announce the fine this week - but President Trump's trip near to parts of Britain has persuaded them to postpone.
This ruling will be in addition to the €2.1bn fine already handed out over the Google Shopping service. μ
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