It’s been a long time coming, with the European Commission looking into various controversial business practices of Google some feel discourage competition for several years now. The executive body of the European Union made many accusations under more than one supervisor, but the current Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, sees little room left for negotiation or delay.
Ironically enough, the allegation that stuck was one Google appeared to have fairly strong arguments against, though ultimately, the search giant abandoned the losing fight, wanting to at least minimize its defense expenses.
There’s always the possibility of an appeal, not to mention an official announcement of the sanction imposed on Alphabet’s daughter company for antitrust violations pertaining to online shopping services is yet to come out.
According to anonymous “sources close to the situation” quoted by The Telegraph, the ruling will be made public “as early as next month”, and no later than the EC’s summer break. If rumors pan out, Big G will need to pay a colossal fine of €3 billion ($3.39B), which would be nearly triple the amount of the previous antitrust record holder, a penalty levied on Intel a couple of years back, and sustained on appeal.
Microsoft was itself the recipient of a large antitrust fine in 2013, in connection with its bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows operating systems, but compared to the over $3 billion Google is expected to have to cough up, Redmond might feel like it struck the deal of a lifetime when mandated to pay “only” the rough equivalent of $730 million.
For Google, this is not even the end of its European legal woes, as investigations into search pre-loading on Android devices have barely begun. And remember, the EU has the authority to fine “dirty” companies up to 10 percent of their annual revenues at any given time, which currently equates to €6.6 billion ($7.5B) in Google’s case. So, yeah, it can still get worse.