Alphabet’s Google was slapped with a $5.1 billion antitrust fine from the European Union over what the EU calls an abuse of the Android operating system.
After the Wall Street Journal reported Google could get hit with the fine later Wednesday (July 18) — a formal decision on the fine was made at a meeting of EU commissioners following a presentation by Margrethe Vestager, the competition chief. The fine stems from an inquiry by antitrust regulators at the European Union into whether or not Google abused its position with the Android OS, which is on more than 80 percent of the smartphones around the globe, by favoring its own mobile apps and services including its search engine. Google has the right to appeal the fine. The appeal of the case has been rejected by the EU in the past, noted the paper.
Google argues that its OS, which manufacturers don’t have to pay to install on mobile devices, actually boosted competition among smartphones and resulted in lower prices. It also said the allegation that it hurt third-party apps by highlighting its own is untrue because manufactures install all sorts of apps on the devices and consumers have the option to download any apps they want.
The fine would mark the second time Google was hit with an EU fine. About a year ago the EU hit Google with a €2.4 billion antitrust fine, noted the report. In that case EU officials determined Google cooked its search results so as to benefit its own shopping services — and disadvantage the services of others. Apart from the hefty fine, the EC gave Google 90 days to “stop its illegal conduct” and offer other price comparison services the chance to compete on a balanced playing field. “Google’s strategy for its comparison-shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals,” said Vestager said at the time. “It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services.”