Google Slapped with $5 Billion Fine for Shady Android Search Tactics

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Google has been slapped with a whopping €4.34 ($5 billion) fine by the European Commission, who in its official filing accused the Mountain View, California search-giant of “illegally” trying to leverage its Android mobile operating system in order to “cement its dominant position” among the worldwide search firms.

In accordance with the judgment, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has been given 90-days to “change its business practices” or face additional penalties of “up to 5%” of its average daily mobile search revenue, BBC News reports, adding that Google is already planning to appeal the fine.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, during a press conference this week, noted the judgment was rooted in the concept that consumers should have a choice. For argument sake, Vestager suggests, the ruling could lead more smart device manufacturers to sell their devices running “different versions of the Android operating system to Google’s,” such as Amazon’s Fire OS, which she asserts had been prevented from the get-go.

“This will change the market place,” she concluded.

Worth pointing out is that this latest fine is merely the third (and largest) which Commissioner Vestager has levied against the search-giant. Previously, she fined Google €2.4 ($2.8 billion) in relation to a separate probe investigating the company’s shopping comparison service.  

Meanwhile, as Google works to appeal that fine, too, Vestager and her associates are readying yet a third investigation into Google’s advertisement business, AdSense.

“Rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition and Android has enabled all of them,” wrote Google’s Chief Executive, Sundar Pichai, in a blog response to the Commission’s ruling, noting that “Today’s decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less.”

What Exactly Is Google Being Accused Of?

Chief among the allegations are that Google acted illegally — not only by requiring Android device-makers to pre-install its Google Search app and Chrome web browser as a condition granting access to the Google Play Store, but also for “making payments” to various Android OEMs and mobile network operators in exchange for exclusively pre-installing Google Search on Android phones and tablets.

The company is also accused of preventing its OEM partners from selling other smart devices powered by older versions of the Android OS, threatening to refuse them permission to pre-install its apps for non-compliance.

Ms. Vestager and her colleagues noted in their filing that Google began illegally abusing its dominant position in the search space “at a time when the mobile internet was growing quickly,” which allowed the firm to essentially cementite and monopolize its desktop-grade search service on Android mobile devices.

As far as the $5 billion fine, Ms. Vestager defended the sum by noting that the amount is based on Google’s search-related earnings (specific to Android devices) in Europe since 2011.

In the long run, which is maybe three-months from now, Ms. Vestager wants Google to not only bring an end to all of the aforementioned illegal practices, but also to refrain from implementing any new measures with a similar goal.

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