Published: Sat, July 21, 2018
Technology | By Nina Perez

European Union fines Google a record $5 billion over mobile practices

European Union fines Google a record $5 billion over mobile practices

It seems that third time's the charm for the European Commission; the EU's politically independent executive arm has slapped Google with a record €4.3 billion fine over antitrust issues with Android phones.

Vestager said that given the size of the company, the 4.34 billion euro fine is not disproportionate.

The EC also called out Google for making payments to certain OEMs and mobile operators on the condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices and for and barring OEMs from using forked versions of the Android OS.

"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", said Vestager.

Google has prohibited companies that make Android devices from making and selling any other devices that run Android forks. She said that European Union antitrust laws put a "special responsibility" on dominant businesses, meaning they can not deny other companies the chance "to compete with them on merit".

Because it has a market share of over 80 percent in many countries, these actions essentially locked competitors out of the search market, giving Google an nearly monopoly.

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In June 2017, regulators already charged Google 2.42 billion euros ($2.8 billion) for favoring its shopping listings in search results.

Windsor said that because many of Google's contracts with smartphone makers are global, the ruling could force it to change its strategy elsewhere including Africa.

Regulators say Google has tilted the field in its favour by forcing smartphone makers to pre-install Google Search together with its Play Store and Chrome browser, sign agreements not to sell devices on rival Android systems and also pay smartphone makers to only pre-install Google Search on devices.

The penalty is almost double the previous record of 2.4 billion euros which the USA tech company was ordered to pay a year ago over its online shopping search service.

The U.S. has also complained that the European Union has mainly targeted American companies - including also Apple and Amazon - for breaking competition or tax rules. "They could these users to try their own services before they get completely hooked on Google". Google parent Alphabet, made $9.4 billion in profit in the first three months of the year and has more than $100 billion in cash reserves. Currently, the free operating system installed on the vast majority of European smartphones. These have enabled Google to use Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. "Our position is not altruistic, and we are not defending open source", wrote Bruce Gustafson, President & CEO of the Developers Alliance in a recent blog post.

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