THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) has slapped Google with a record €4.34bn (£3.8bn) fine for abusing its dominance through its 'anticompetitive' Android operating system.
Announcing the fine, which is the largest ever antitrust penalty and dwarfs the €2.1bn fine already hand to the firm over its Google Shopping service, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Google was in breach of competition law using Android as a vehicle to "cement the dominance of its search engine."
Specifically, Google has required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and browser app as a condition for licensing the Play Store; made payments to certain OEMs and mobile operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices; and barred OEMs from using forked versions of the Android OS.
Fine of €4,34 bn to @Google for 3 types of illegal restrictions on the use of Android. In this way it has cemented the dominance of its search engine. Denying rivals a chance to innovate and compete on the merits. It's illegal under EU antitrust rules. @Google now has to stop it— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) July 18, 2018
"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," Vestager said.
"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."
The EC has given 90 days to stop the three anticompetitive practices, and if the firm doesn't comply, it will face penalty payments of up to 5 per cent of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet.
In response to the ruling, Google confirmed it would appeal, adding: "Android has created more choice for everyone, not less. A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition."
Today's ruling, which was originally expected earlier this month but was postponed to avoid a clash with President Trump's visit to Europe, will bring an end to the EC's investigation into Google's Android OS.
The watchdog 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
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 firm has yet to comment on the EC's ruling. μ
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