Google slapped with record €4.3bn fine for Android dominance abuse

Google slapped with record €4.3bn fine for Android dominance abuse

"The Commission decision requires Google to bring its illegal conduct to an end in an effective manner within 90 days of the decision".

Announcing the fine, which is the largest ever antitrust penalty and dwarfs the €2.1bn fine already hand to the firm over its "anticompetitive" Google Shopping service, European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Google was in breach of competition law using Android as a vehicle to "cement the dominance of its search engine".

Update, July 18, 2018 (07:45AM EST): The European Union (EU) has officially handed Google a 4.34 billion euro penalty for antitrust violations.

In this case, Vestager faulted Google for using Android as a means to solidify its strong foothold in search and advertising, while making it harder for rivals to offer competing apps and services. Google makes around $30 billion in revenue per quarter right now and its parent company, Alphabet, turned over more than $100 billion a year ago.

"Android has created more choice for everyone, not less", said a spokesman. The open-source software is provided to manufacturers for free, while Google derives revenue from advertising displayed in its apps.

Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai had a call with EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager late Tuesday for a so-called state of play meeting, a usual step to alert companies of an impending penalty, according to one of the people, who asked not to be named because the discussion is private.

Android is the world's most-used smartphone operating system and runs on about 80 percent of mobile devices worldwide.

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"The fine is based on the length of the infraction, but also on whether antitrust authorities believe there was an intention to commit the offence, and whether they excluded competitors or not", said a source. "It has cemented the dominance of its search engine", Vestager explained.

Those contracts might also prevent device makers from using other versions of Android on their devices.

The Commission's decision was delayed by a week by US President Donald Trump's visit to a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels last week.

Vestager is expected to say that Google shut out rivals by forcing major phone makers including South Korea's Samsung and China's Huawei to pre-install its search engine and Google Chrome browser, thereby freezing out rivals.

The Commission said Vestager would speak on an antitrust case but did not provide details. The ruling could alter how Android users work in Europe, by allowing manufacturers to sell phones without Google apps installed.

The EU enforcer dismissed Google's argument of competition from Apple, saying the iPhone maker was not a sufficient constraint because of its higher prices and switching costs for users.

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