Google has been fined a record-breaking £3.9bn by the EU regulators for breaking antitrust laws. The European commission believes Google has abused its Android market dominance and has used the operating system to cement its position in the search market illegally. This is a record fine enforced on any organisation in the history of the EU.
Google had previously been fined by the EU commission last year over its shopping comparison service, for lowering the ranking of competitors to advertise its own. The organisation was probed and hit with a £2.1bn fine, a decision the search giant is in the process of appealing against.
Margrethe Vestager, the EU competitions chief said, “the record sized fine is a result of Googles illegal behaviour”. She also advocated that the decision could lead to manufacturers selling smart devices with different versions of the Android operating system to Google’s.
Sundar Pichai, the chief executive at Google responded saying, “Rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition and Android has enabled all of them”. He continued by saying:
“Today’s decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less.”
There is also another pending case against Google that is still open, with allegations of dominance in online advertising through its AdSense tool.
The EU commission has now warned Google to bring its illegal conduct and behaviour to an end, and has given the search engine giant 90 days to comply and implement changes or face further fines of up to 5% of its average global daily turnover.
Google have been accused of illegal behaviour in 3 key areas:
- Forcing Android phone and tablet manufacturers to pre-install the Google search app and Chrome (its own web browser) as a condition to offer access to the Play Store app.
- Made payments to the biggest mobile phone manufacturers and network operators to guarantee Google search as the exclusive preinstalled search app.
- Preventing phone manufacturers from installing versions of Android that weren’t already pre-approved by Google and threatening to refuse them permission to pre-install their apps.
Google will now fight to appeal the decision by the EU commission according to a statement by the CEO on their blog. “Rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition and Android has enabled all of them. Today’s decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less. We intend to appeal.”
With this appeal, it’s important to note that the legal battle process is likely to run for a very long time. In the meantime, Google will need to unbundle its services (Google search and Chrome) to Android, which might affect or change the free business model they’ve always wanted with the mobile Operating System. Android users are still free to bundle Chrome and Search if they wish but they will not be forced to and will have the choice to remove any preinstalled app.