The European Commission (EC) levied its largest-ever fine on Google after judging the search giant to have abused the dominant position of its Android operating system.
Europe’s legislative body levied a €4.3 billion penalty on the US-based company following a three-year investigation into its requirement for device makers to include its apps on devices, and prominently position them in order to gain access to other Google services such as the Play app store and content catalogue.
This bundling effectively closes out competitors, though Google maintains it does not force companies to preload its apps.
The EC ruled Google had imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators since 2011 to cement its dominant position in general internet search. The company must now bring the conduct “effectively to an end within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5 per cent of the average daily worldwide turnover” of parent Alphabet, the Commission said in a statement.
Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. 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.”
The latest penalty tops a €2.4 billion fine Google received related to its shopping service in 2017. Another probe into Google’s AdSense advertising service is also underway.
A Google representative told The Verge the company plans to appeal the EC’s decision: “Android has created more choice for everyone, not less. A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation, and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition.”
Suzanne Rab, a barrister, told BBC News the company is entitled to appeal the decision in European courts, a process which would be “measured in years and not months.”