The European Commission has punished Google with a fine of €4.34 billion ($5 billion) for “illegally” using Android mobile devices to strengthen its dominance among internet search engines.
In a statement announcing the fine on Wednesday, the Commission said the search engine giant breached 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.”
Google has been directed to end the practice within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5 percent of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said that Google imposed three types of restrictions on Android device manufacturers and network operators to ensure that traffic on Android devices goes to the Google search engine. She noted that 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 Commission observed 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.
Google has also been accused of making payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices. The Commission also noted that Google 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 is dominant in the national markets for general internet search throughout the European Economic Area (EEA), which consists of 31 EEA Member States. Google has shares of more than 90 percent in most of these countries.
Through its control over Android, Google is dominant in the worldwide market, except in China, for licensable smart mobile operating systems, with a market share of more than 95 percent.
by RTTNews Staff Writer
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