Google slapped with record $5b antitrust fine

19 Jul 2018

The European Commission has followed through with its plan of imposing a record €4.3 billion ($5 billion) antitrust fine on Google as a result of the company’s practice of pushing its own search and browser apps on Android smartphone makers.

The EU has also given Google 90 days to cease its “illegal practices” or face further fines and penalties.

Bloombergnotes that the fine is equal to the Netherlands’ annual contribution to the EU budget, and is far higher than any fine imposed by US, Chinese or any other antitrust authorities. But it still represents only around 16 days’ revenue for Google parent Alphabet.

But Google also faces daily fines of 5% of its revenue if it misses the deadline of complying with the EC’s demands.

In a blog post, Google CEO Sundar Pichai expressed disagreement with the decision, arguing that the Android platform has created more choice for handset makers rather than less.

“Rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition and Android has enabled all of them,” he said.

“Today’s decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less. We intend to appeal.”

The EC has been investigating Google for some time over the company’s alleged practice of forcing Android smartphone makers to implement Google services such as a bundle or not at all. According to reports, this means that handset makers must contractually use Google’s web browser and search tools by default or lose access to the Play Store.

The EU found that Google has also previously offered significant financial incentives to operators and manufacturers to exclusively install Google search on their devices, and had prevented handset makers from selling phones using other versions of Android such as Amazon’s Fire OS.

The EC also recently imposed a €2.4 billion fine on Google for allegedly unfairly ranking its own comparison-shopping service higher in search results than those offered by competitors.

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