Google fined a record $ 5 billion for violating antitrust laws in Europe
The European Commission completed a perennial investigation against Google and demanded a record fine of 5 billion dollars (4.3 billion euros). This is the biggest fine in the history of the company.
The last record fine, by the way, was also from the European Commission last year - 2.4 billion euros for influence on search results. Products from the Google Shop catalog, according to the charges, were deliberately set higher than the rest.
Commission Chairman Margret Vestager accused the company of three violations at once
- Google is undermining the competition in the market for Android devices by introducing its search engine and applications into the operating system.
- It restricts manufacturers from using alternative versions of Android, blocking access to their services.
- The company paid large manufacturers and mobile networks to put Google Search on default in their products.
Alphabet, the owner of Google, has 90 days to challenge or correct the situation. When the ruling comes into force, device manufacturers will no longer be required to pre-install Chrome and Google Search to access the Play app store.
They will also be able to use alternative versions of Android, because, according to the commission, "Google has not provided convincing evidence that alternative versions lead to technical violations and problems with application support."
At a press conference in Brussels, Vestager said :
Buyers need a choice. The decision will push manufacturers to produce smartphones with different versions of operating systems based on Android. This can change the market.
Google does not agree with the decision and will dispute it.
Sundar Pichai, the head of Google has already published a detailed response to the decision of the commission:
Android gives you a choice, not a pick.
The decision does not take into account the fact that Android devices compete with iOS devices. This is confirmed by 89% of respondents according to the study of the commission itself.
Thanks to Android, there are now 24 thousand devices in all price categories from 1300 different brands on the market. All smartphones created by these companies are different. But they have one thing in common - the ability to use the same applications.
Android has open source codes, and court decisions, of course, are directed not against the OS itself, but against Google’s policy of imposing its services through additional agreements in the contract for using Android.
The litigation over this decision is likely to drag on for years, and even if the decision remains the same, it will only limit Google’s distribution of its services. Although manufacturers will be able to pre-install them further on their own.
A similar story lasted for several years in Russia between Google and Yandex.
In 2015, the FAS filed a lawsuit against Google against Google. They claimed that Google doesn’t allow smartphone makers to pre-install their apps.
bobuk (then the director of Yandex for the dissemination of technology) explained that Google selects the right to use its services in the world from those companies that, for example, pre-install Yandex services on their devices in Russia.
The dispute lasted a year and a half. FAS awarded Google a fine of half a billion rubles, but Google was in no hurry with execution. Finally, in 2017, the company went to the world, paid a fine and changed the terms of the agreement with manufacturers.
Other large companies have also been accused of monopolizing the Google market. In 2015, the investigation into Android began with the filing of the FairSearch group, which included Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle.
The European Commission is famous for its high-profile cases against many companies.
Here are just a few examples.
- In 2017, Apple paid $ 15 billion in taxes at the request of the European Commission.
- Microsoft for two lawsuits (2008 and 2013) paid a total of one and a half billion for restrictions in choosing browsers in Windows.
- In 2009, Intel paid a billion dollars for undermining competition by giving manufacturers discounts on chips.
Of course, not only IT companies get penalties from the European Commission. For example, they awarded fines of nearly 4 billion euros to truck manufacturers.
The commission’s decision sees both pros and cons
Major smartphone manufacturers, of course, will become easier to distribute their services on Android devices. But application vendors see this as a challenge. European developer Jan Rumac considers :
Android from Google is the most convenient. Compete with large companies on numerous systems will only get harder. You have to adapt applications for too many stores.
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