Google gobsmacked over €4.34bn European Union fine for Android dominance

A 3D printed Android mascot Bugdroid is seen in front of a Google logo in this illustration July 2018. /REUTERS

The European Commission announced a 4.34 euro (~$5 billion) fine against Google as a conclusion to its antitrust investigation into the company's abuse of Android's dominance in the smartphone market.

Business review site Yelp has complained about Google's anti-competitive business models, and its polic head, Luther Lowe, described Ms Vestager's decision as an "important step in restoring competition, innovation and consumer welfare in the digital economy".

In order to pre-install Google's apps - including the Play Store and Google Search - on their devices, manufacturers had to commit not to develop or sell even a single device running on an Android fork.

The commission claimed Google ran afoul of antitrust laws by paying large manufacturers and mobile network operators to exclusively pre-install the Google Search app on Android devices.

She further went on to state how these restrictions have denied consumers the opportunity to benefit from a healthy competition between the tech giant and its rival, deeming any such practices illegal.

Android is the most widely used mobile OS in the world, installed on roughly 76% of all smartphones, including those manufactured by Samsung, Sony and Huawei.

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.

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Regulators from the European Commission issued a record $5 billion antitrust fine to Google today, asserting that the search giant has abused its power in the smartphone market.

Google has said it will appeal against the fine.

What could have a more lasting effect on Google's business is if the European Union rules that smartphone makers no longer need to pre-install Google products on their phones in order to access the Google Play app store.

Google is appealing the decision. In that case, Google called tying its services to Android "necessary" to help it monetize its Android investment, since the operating system is open source and free.

"The commission, which is the enforcement wing of the European Union, cited Google's practices of forcing manufacturers to pre-install the company's apps on Android phones". Currently, an OEM that wants to partner with Google and sell certified devices with Google services can not also go out and sell devices with incompatible Android forks - something built from open source without support for standard Android software and features.

A similar case was brought against the company in Russian Federation, and as a result, Android now offers users in Russian Federation a choice of which default search engine it would like to use. "This harmed competition by significantly reducing their incentives to pre-install competing search apps". Last year, over 94 billion apps were downloaded globally from our Play app store; browsers such as Opera Mini and Firefox have been downloaded more than 100 million times, UC Browser more than 500 million times.

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