The EU has fined Google a record $5 billion (€4.3 billion) for breaking antitrust laws. The body says that since 2011 Google “imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators” so as to acquire a dominant position in the search market.
The European Commission accused Google of making it mandatory for OEMs to install Google Search and Chrome on their devices as a part of its licensing agreement. Additionally, Google made payments to large OEMs and network operators to allow them to keep the Google app pre-installed on their devices as the exclusive search app. Lastly, it prevented device OEMs from selling a device which ran a version of Android that was “not approved by Google.”
The Commission believes that by placing the above restrictions, Google broke the antitrust laws of EU thereby gaining an unfair advantage over its competitors. The company did this because it understood how popular smartphones were going to become early on and proceeded to create a strategy to ensure that its search business managed to make the most out of this boom.
In its ruling, the EU has imposed a $5 billion fine on Google. It has also given the company a time period of 90 days to stop all its illegal practices or face further fines. The EU is doing this so that smartphone OEMs have the freedom to produce devices running forked versions of Android along with giving them and consumers the option of using the search engine and browser they like.
Google has already issued a statement against this fine from the EU. It says that the EU’s decision “ignores the fact that Android phones compete with iOS phones” and also underscores the sheer choice and customization that Android provides to smartphone OEMs as well as to consumers. It is due to the open nature of Android that there are over 1,300 brands using Android with over 24,000 devices being available at almost every price point possible.
Google also highlights that a typical Android smartphone comes with over 40 apps pre-installed from different developers. Plus, it is extremely easy to remove a pre-installed app in the OS and replace it with an alternative from the Play Store.
This is the second massive fine imposed by the EU on Google. Last year, it fined the search engine giant $2.7 billion for using its dominant search position to unfairly promote its own comparison shopping service over its competitors.