Google has been fined a record €4.3 billion ($5.1 billion) for abusing the Android operating system’s dominance in the smartphone market, the largest fine imposed on a company in EU history. It was previously penalized by the European Commission just last year, when the search giant was slapped with a $2.7 billion fine for lowering the ranking of competitor shopping comparison tools to promote its own.
According to Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition chief, Google used Android’s dominant market position to strengthen its lead in search, a practice that has been deemed illegal in the EU.
More especially, Google has been accused of:
– forcing Android phone manufacturers to preinstall Chrome and Search as a prerequisite for including the Play Store app
– making payments to larger phone manufacturers and mobile carriers to ensure that Google Search is the exclusive pre-installed search app
– Preventing phone manufacturers from installing versions of Android that weren’t already pre-approved by Google, despite Android being an open source software.
The decision against Google stipulates that the organization should unbundle its Chrome and Search applications from Android, which may essentially change the free business model the tech giant has been pursuing with the mobile OS.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, has protected the organization’s decision to bundle the applications with the operating system, expressing in a blog post, that Android users were allowed to expel any pre-installed applications.
“So far, the Android business model has meant that we haven’t had to charge phone makers for our technology, or depend on a tightly controlled distribution model,” he added. “But we are concerned that today’s decision will upset the careful balance that we have struck with Android, and that it sends a troubling signal in favor of proprietary systems over open platforms.”