The European Commision said that Google had breached EU antitrust rules since 2011 when it imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search.
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Google now have to bring closure to the conduct within 90 days, or they face penalty payments of up to %5 of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. However, the California-based company may decide to challenge the ruling.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Today, the mobile internet makes up more than half of global internet traffic. It has changed the lives of millions of Europeans. 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.”
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“In this way, 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.”
This is not the first time a fine from the EU has hit Google. Last year the Commission fined Google £2.1bn over its shopping tool which could often be found at the top of searches made through Google.
In relation to the Android scandal, Google has previously disagreed with the EU’s concerns. In a blog post from 2016, Google’s Senior Vice President, Kent Walker said: “Android hasn’t hurt competition, it’s expanded it.”
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“The Commission argues that we shouldn’t offer some Google apps as part of a suite. No manufacturer is obliged to preload any Google apps on an Android phone. But we do offer manufacturers a suite of apps so that when you buy a new phone, you can access a familiar set of basic services.”
“Android’s competitors, including Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows phone, not only do the same, but they allow much less choice in the apps that come with their phones.”