The EU is taking Google to task with an almost €5 billion fine for breaking the European Union’s antitrust laws. It has been said that these practises deny rivals the chance to create any fair competition. The EU has ruled that this is illegal, because Google is already far beyond the other players.
So said Margrethe Vestager, tweeting the reasons why the EU is hitting Google with such a large fine – which could have been double if the EU would have levied the full amount possible. The decision also concludes that Google is dominant in the markets for general Internet search services and app stores for the Android mobile operating system, as stated in an article at TechCrunch.
Amongst other things, the European Commission has decided that Google has been:
- requiring manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and Chrome browser app as a condition for licensing Google Play, their app store;
- making payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices;
- and has been preventing manufacturers who want 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 (Android forks, which are aftermarket versions of Android that run without all the Google apps pre-installed).
Vestager went on to say that:
“The decision today concludes that the restrictions Google imposed on manufacturers and network operators using Android have breached [EU] rules since 2011,” she said. “First that’s because Google’s practices have denied rival search engines the possibility to compete on their merits. They made sure that Google search engine is pre-installed on practically all Android devices, which is an advantage that cannot be matched.
Remembering Fire OS
Amazon tried to license its Android fork, Fire OS, to device manufacturers in 2012 and 2013. The manufacturers were interested, but due to the restrictions in place by Google, the manufacturers couldn’t launch Fire OS on any devices. These manufacturers would have lost the right to sell any device with key Google apps. Now, very few devices run with Fire OS except for the devices sold by Amazon itself.
Google is permitted to set technical requirements to ensure functionality and apps within its own Android ecosystem are able to run smoothly. However, using these technical requirements cannot serve as a smokescreen to prevent the development of competition.
What Google Had To Say
Google tweeted back saying: “Android has created more choice for everyone, not less. A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition. We will appeal the Commission’s decision.”
It’s quite clear that Google will appeal to have the matter discussed again within the European Commission. All that legal wrangling could drag the process out for years.