[WATCH] Google hit with €4.3 billion fine by EU over antitrust breach

The European Commission has fined Google a record €4.34 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules when it allegedly imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers

Commission fines Google €4.34 billion for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices
Commission fines Google €4.34 billion for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices

Google has been fined €4.34 billion by the European Commission (EC) for allegedly restricting Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators in order to “cement its dominant position in general internet search,” according to a commission statement.

Google has been abusing its Android market dominance by bundling its search engine and Chrome apps into the operating system and requiring manufacturers to pre-install the apps as a condition for licencing the Play Store, the statement read.

It added that Google “made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices” and that it prevented forked Android phones not approved by Google from being sold.

The commission said that Google “must now bring the conduct effectively to an end within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google's parent company.”

“Our case is about three types of restrictions that Google has imposed on Android device manufacturers and network operators to ensure that traffic on Android devices goes to the Google search engine. In this way, Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine,” European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said.

“These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits. They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” she added.

The commission explained that Google breached EU antitrust rules by illegally tying its search and browser apps – namely, Google Search and Google Chrome browser – which are pre-installed on all Android devices sold in the EU.

Pre-installation can create a “status quo bias”, as users who find search and browser apps pre-installed on their devices are likely to stick to these apps, according to the commission, which said it has evidence that he Google Search app is consistently used more on Android devices, where it is pre-installed, than on Windows Mobile devices, where users must download it.

Another way in which Google broke EU antitrust laws was by granting “significant financial incentives” to large device manufacturers and mobile network operators to exclusively ore-install Google Search in all Android devices. “This harmed competition by significantly reducing their incentives to pre-install competing search apps.”

According to the commission, Google illegally obstructed development and distribution of competing Android operating systems., as in order to be able to pre-install on their devices Google's proprietary apps, manufacturers had to commit not to develop or sell even a single device running on an Android fork.