EU fine hit Google of €4.3bn over Android by regulators

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BRUSSELS: American multi-tech giant ‘Google’ fined by EU regulators of 4.3bn euros. The The European Commission said the firm had utilized mobile operating framework to illicitly “cement its dominant position and in general internet search”.

The company’s parent Alphabet has been given 90 days to change its business practices or face facilitate punishments of up to 5% of its normal day by day turnover.


However, Google stated that it plans to appeal. Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai was pre-informed about the verdict by Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday.

At a question and answer session in Brussels, the regulator said consumers required choices and the proposed decision could lead producers to sell smart devices using different versions of the Android operating system to Google’s, for example, Amazon’s Fire OS.

Google’s parent Alphabet can easily afford the fine – its cash reserves totalled nearly $103bn at the end of March.

However, it believes the punishment is unjustified.

“Android has created more choice for everyone, not less,” said a spokesman.

“A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition.”

Ms. Vestager previously fined Google €2.4bn ($2.8bn; £2.1bn) over a separate probe into its shopping comparison service – a ruling the tech firm is in the process of appealing against.

In addition, her team has a third investigation underway into Google’s advert-placing business AdSense.

The case against Google

Ms Vestager alleges that there are three ways that Google has acted illegally:

A. it required Android handset and tablet manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and its own web browser Chrome as a condition for allowing them to offer access to its Play app store

B. it made payments to large manufacturers and mobile network operators that agreed to exclusively pre-install the Google Search app on their devices

C. it prevented manufacturers from selling any smart devices powered by alternative “forked” versions of Android by threatening to refuse them permission to pre-install its apps

Ms. Vestager acknowledged that Google’s version of Android does not prevent device owners downloading alternative web browsers or using other search engines.

The Competition Commission verdict

The Competition Commissioner said that Google carried out its abuse at a time when the mobile internet was growing quickly, helping it ensure its advertising-supported search service repeated the success it had already found on desktop computers.

She cannot turn the clock back, but said the size of the fine had been based on the firm’s search-related earnings from Android devices in Europe since 2011.

She has, however, said the firm must now stop all of the practices outlined above and refrain from any measures with a similar goal.

Russia may give one example of how this could be achieved.

After similar complaints by the country’s regulator, Google now offers Android users a choice between Google, Yandex, and Mail.ru as the default search engine the first time they use the Chrome browser.

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