For the second time in as many years, the European Commission has issued its largest ever fine against Google. The €4.34 billion penalty was issued this morning after the agency found that Google breached antitrust law to ensure its Android mobile OS had significant reach in the European Union.
The behaviors include forcing device manufacturers to pre-install its Chrome web browser as a condition for allowing them to install the Google Play Store, enforcing a Play Store block-out for manufacturers opting to use a non-standard fork of Android — such as Amazon’s Fire OS — and making payments to carriers and OEMs to ensure that the Google app was set as the default search engine on phones.
As early as 2011, Google was seen to be the dominant market force for internet search, smartphone operating systems and Android app stores. The commission also found competition from Apple to be insufficient because of the monetary and time costs involved in switching platforms. While market dominance in itself isn’t illegal, conditional tie-ins to prop up other owned services is.
Google has 90 days to come within compliance of the laws. If it does not, it will be fined up to 5 percent of its parent company Alphabet’s daily revenues per day.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, responded on the company’s The Keyword blog, saying that Android has created more choice in the European market for smartphones and apps. The existence of a varied app store allows users to replace any pre-loaded application with an alternative quickly. Furthermore, Google’s integrations allow for phone makers of all sizes to get product to market that’s fully stocked with optimal software. He insists that anyone is entitled to use Android in the way Amazon has, though it whiffs on explaining anything about how it makes its Play Store available to OEMs that go through with their own forks.
Pichai intends to appeal the fines. You can see the full response by clicking the link below this story.
Back in 2016, Alphabet had stated that it had worked with the commission to resolve antitrust violations on three prior occasions and that it would still be able to integrate its services while complying with antitrust rules.
In June 2017, the European Commission had fined Google €2.42 billion for tying in its shopping comparison service and de-prioritizing competing services with its search engine.[alert variation=”alert-warning”]Updated with response from Google posted onto its The Keyword blog.[/alert]