Google is to pay a record $5 billion antitrust fine for breaching the European Union’s (EU) antitrust rules.
The EU antitrust regulator found Google guilty of abusing its dominance of its Android operating system. The Android operating system (OS) runs in more than 80% of the world’s smartphones. The EU ruled that the tech giant had used the OS to promote and entrench the company’s cash-cow search engine.
The ruling will impact heavily on Google’s dominance of the mobile phone industry as the EU ordered Google to stop making phone manufacturers pre-install its search app and the Chrome web browser if they want to pre-install Google’s Play store, which is the dominant way to download Android apps. The bloc also ordered Google to end restrictions that discourage manufacturers from selling devices that run unofficial versions of Android.
Part of the ruling asserted that Google “prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android.” This practice, according to the EU, has helped “to cement its dominant position in general internet search”
Google has denied this and announced plans to appeal the ruling.
About 80% of smart mobile devices in Europe and worldwide run on Android, whose original developer Google bought in 2005, the commission said. Google must now bring its practices “effectively to an end within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.”
This is not the first time European authorities have slapped the internet-search giant with a massive antitrust fine. In June 2017, the European Commission said Google had to pay a €2.42 billion fine for favoring its shopping service in searches, in breach of antitrust rules. Google has appealed that fine as well, and a final ruling is still pending.