EU fines Google a record $5 billion over mobile practices

Google faces $5 billion fine over Android - report

This morning, Google was hit with an enormous $5.06 billion fine for what the European Commission considers to be anti-competitive practices - specifically, those that push users toward Google's own apps and services.

Google Search is pre-installed as the default web search service on most Android devices sold in Europe, closing off ways for rival search engines to access the market according to the European Union ruling.

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.

Google also gave "financial incentives" to manufacturers and mobile network operators if they pre-installed Google Search on their devices, the commission said. Denying rivals a chance to innovate and compete on the merits.

Crucially, Google isn't just being fined-it is also being forced to allow manufacturers to preinstall rival companies' services instead of Google services.

The EU says Android is used on around 80 percent of mobile devices, both in Europe and worldwide.

Google chief Sundar Pichai immediately said the firm would appeal.

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The EU's fine is the biggest ever imposed on a company for anticompetitive behavior.

Last year, the EC issued a €2.42 billion (~$2.82 billion) fine to Google for "abus [ing] its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to. its comparison shopping service".

The European regulators have scrutinized Google for paying hefty amounts to smartphone manufacturers and mobile operators for having Google search as their default search app. Google is also blamed for laying out harsh guidelines which restrict OEM from developing Android forks based on AOSP.

Denmark's Vestager ordered Google to "put an effective end to this conduct within 90 days or face penalty payments" of up to five percent of its average daily turnover. The ecosystem carries all the properties needed for a fair competition - "rapid innovation and lower prices". The conditions Google puts as part of the Android license agreement with phone makers is what the regulator considers illegal. The organization welcomed the EU's fine today in a press release. Google's licensing conditions make it impossible for manufacturers to pre-install some apps but not others.

Though $5 billion is a lot of money for anyone, Google would no doubt recover quickly from the fine. In 2016, Vestager issued a statement of objections against Google and Android. "This reduced the ability of rivals to compete effectively with Google", the EC said. They said Google abused that share by forcing manufacturers to take its apps and by preventing them from selling altered versions of Android, which is technically open-source software.

Consumer advocates welcomed the Commission's decision. They've stated that Android has given customers more freedom, not less.

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