The European Commission today announced a fine of 4,44 billion euros ($ 5,04 billion) against Google for violating antitrust policies regarding Android.
According to the EU, Google broke the antitrust rules regarding the commercialization of Android OS in three ways:
- Google requires phone makers to pre-install the Google Search app and its browser (Chrome) as a prerequisite for licensing the Google Play Store application platform.
- Google has made payments to specific phone manufacturers and mobile operators to pre-install the Google Search app exclusively on their devices.
- Google has prevented phone makers who want to pre-install Google applications from selling a different mobile device running an alternative version of Android that has not been approved by Google (also known as "Android forks").
None of the above is new news. All of Google's practices have been known to the public for over a decade.
The EU claims that these practices have helped Google gain a dominant position in the mobile search market, making it almost impossible for competitors providing a platform or search app on Android devices to gain ground.
In addition, Google's tight control over Android OS licensing has prevented similar Android-based operating systems from proliferating.
The fine imposed by the EU was expected, and Microsoft has also been punished by the EU for blocking Internet Explorer with Windows, not once, but twice in 2008 (€ 899 million / $ 1,04 billion) and in 2013 (€ 561 million / $ 651 million).
The EU says Google now has 90 days to stop these practices or risk paying penalties of up to 5% of its parent company Alphabet's global average turnover.
This is the largest fine the EU has imposed on a technology company. The second place is again held by Google (!!!) where the EU has imposed a fine of 2,42 billion. Euro ($ 2,72 billion) for the abuse of its dominant position in the market, after "teasing" the search results to favor the Google Shopping service to the detriment of its direct competitors.
The EU is also investigating Google in another antitrust case involving the AdSense service. In this case, in July 2016, the EU concluded a preliminary finding that Google had taken advantage of its market dominance to restrict sites from running search-related ads from Google's competitors.
The EU has been investigating Google for its Android OS practices following a 2013 complaint by FairSearch, an organization made up of other technology companies such as Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle. The organization expressed today with Press release, its satisfaction with the EU fine.
The fine is exactly € 4,342,865,000 - and the explanations from the EU decision are available here .