Europe prepares to hit Google with another huge fine

Enlarge  The Google search app on an Android portable

Enlarge The Google search app on an Android portable

In this way, Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. Google raked in around 25 billion euros in digital advertising in Europe in 2017, equity research firm Pivotal Research estimates. This limits consumer choice and "makes it more hard for rivals to present more things to us as consumers", European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager told the NewsHour.

"We believe that Google's behaviour denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services, and stands in the way of innovation by other players", Vestager explains.

More specifically, Google is said to have used its control over Android to require manufacturers to install the Google Search app and Chrome browser in all Android devices if they wanted a Play Store license.

Google's practices have denied rival search engines the possibility to compete on the merits.

The Commission said Vestager would speak on an antitrust case but did not provide details.

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A Google spokesperson said: "Android has created more choice for everyone, not less".

The Commission's decision was delayed by a week by US President Donald Trump's visit to a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels last week.

The fine, which caps a three-year investigation, is the biggest ever imposed on a company by the European Union for anticompetitive behavior. The EU previously fined Google €2.42 billion ($2.72 billion) for abusing its dominant market position for tweaking search results to favor its Google Shopping service to the detriment of its direct competitors.

Android has an 80% market share among mobile operating systems and a 95% market share in "licenseable mobile operating systems", a market which doesn't include vertically integrated operating systems such as iOS or Blackberry OS because those can't be licensed by manufacturers.

As you'd expect, Google intends to appeal the ruling and in so doing push back the date at which it needs to stop offering and enforcing these agreements that favor its services. There's also an ongoing third investigation into Google's AdSense system. Google is also routinely featured as the default search engine.

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And finally, Google stopping manufacturers from running alternative versions of Android.

Google has been given 90 days to end the illegal conduct or face additional penalties of up to 5 per cent of parent Alphabet's average daily worldwide turnover. The company also says the allegation that it stymied competing apps is false because manufacturers typically install many rival apps on Android devices-and consumers can download others.

"So far, the Android business model has meant that we haven't had to charge phone makers for our technology, or depend on a tightly controlled distribution model", Pichai wrote.

In addition to the fine, Vestager's office wants Google to change its business practices. This is illegal under European Union antitrust rules.

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