EU fines Google €4.3bn over Android search

The European Commission said it has fined Google €4.34 billion “for breaching EU antitrust rules.”

“Since 2011, Google has imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search,” said the EC.

“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.”

EC 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.

“They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere.

“This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.”

The EC said that in particular, 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);
  • 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
  • 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 (so-called “Android forks”).

Google told Reuters it would appeal the fine.

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

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

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.