The EU has fined Google $5 Billion for violating the antitrust rules, by forcing manufacturers of Android phones to Install the Chrome browser and Google Search app.
“Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine,” Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. “These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits.”
The tech giant plans to appeal the decision, a Google spokesperson tells NPR.
“Android has created more choice for everyone, not less,” the company says. “A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition.”
Earlier this year, the EU also fined Google $2.72 Billion for antitrust violations. At that time, it was found that Google was using its service to promote its shopping service illegally.
According to the Bloomberg reports, this time $5 Billion sets a world record for such antitrust penalties. And if Google does not change its practices, the penalty will keep on increasing.
Google licenses its Android operating system to third-party phone manufacturers. The issue, the EU says, is that Google requires Android device-makers to pre-install the Google search and browser apps on “practically all” devices sold in Europe; in the past, the company used financial incentives to encourage pre-installation further. That makes it hard for other search apps to compete, the EU says.
Google has prohibited companies that make Android devices from making and selling any other devices that run Android forks. That gives Google too much power over competition between different operating systems, the EU says.
Google forcefully objects to the ruling, calling it a rejection of Android’s entire business model.
In a blog post, CEO Sundar Pichai said the decision “ignores the fact that Android phones compete with iOS phones.” (The European Commission decided that Apple products don’t adequately “constrain Google’s market power” in part because iPhones are more expensive, and because iPhones use Google search by default anyway.)
“No phone maker is even obliged to sign up to these rules — they can use or modify Android in any way they want, just as Amazon has done with its Fire tablets and TV sticks,” Pichai writes.
“Because Google makes the Android platform available for free, the company only makes money off the phones if Google apps are installed and used”, Pichai says.