Google, Android and the EU Competition Commission

By July 18, 2018 Press Releases

Google has been fined a record 4.3 billion euros by the European Union over its Android system.

The firm’s parent Alphabet has been given 90 days to change its business practices or face further penalties of up to 5% of its average global daily turnover. The company has said that it plans to appeal.

The European Commission has been investigating for three years claims that Google’s mobile strategy violates antitrust regulations, designed to promote free and fair competition within the EU.

The Commission has been investigating three main claims against Google, saying the firm may be violating antitrust regulation by:

  • requiring Android handset and tablet manufacturers to set its search engine as the default and pre-install the Chrome browser before allowing them to offer access to its Play app store
  • preventing manufacturers from selling mobile devices powered by rival operating systems based on Android’s open source code
  • giving device manufacturers and mobile networks financial incentives to provide its own search service as the sole pre-installed option

In 2016, an Android Senior Vice President denied that Google required handset makers to preload any of its apps. He also warned that “The commission’s approach… would mean less innovation, less choice, less competition, and higher prices”.

Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said today in a statement that “Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine.” She added that Google’s behaviour has “denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.”

The UK is a world leader in app development and games design and Android has played an important role in this. It has helped developers by being open source and reducing the problem of having to develop apps for multiple devices. As such, it has reduced entry costs for new and small developers.

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