The European Union is not pulling any punches. The bloc has just slapped Google with a record antitrust fine of €4.34B ($5.06B) and ordered changes to its business due to alleged competition abuses within the EU.
The EU Commission maintains that Google imposes illegal restrictions on other Android device manufacturers and network operators to solidify its dominant position when it comes to mobile apps and services, particularly the company’s search engine.
The bloc said today that “Google must now bring the conduct effectively to an end within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.”
EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said, “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. 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,” she continued. “They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.”
The EU contends that “Google has required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and browser app (Chrome), as a condition for licensing Google’s app store (the Play Store)”; that it “made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices”; and that the online giant has “prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android that were not approved by Google.”
Google, which can appeal any decision, has rejected the EU’s case since the bloc first issued charges two years ago. Chief Executive Sundar Pichai was reportedly pre-briefed about today’s decision on Tuesday and the tech titan is due to issue a public response today.
The EU previously fined Google €2.4B ($2.8B) over a separate investigation into its shopping comparison service. The U.S firm is currently appealing that decision. There is also a third probe underway into Google’s advert-placing business AdSense.