European Commission fines Google 4 billion euros for illegal practices on Android

unsplash-logoArthur Osipyan

Expected since quite a long time, the European Commission has finally given its decision concerning Google’s practices with their operating system for mobile phones: the company used illegal practices and has been fined 4.34 billion euros, making this the largest fine handed by the European Commission to a company ever. 

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The decision has been known since a few weeks already, but the confirmation is now here: Google did abuse their position to force Android device manufactures and mobile operators to use Google’s search engine by default, limiting competitors.

The company was fined 4.34 billion euros and must find a solution to the problem in less than 90 days, under the threat of being fined again.

The European Commission describes Google’s abuse in the following way:

  • Required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and Chrome as a requirement to license the Google Play Store
  • Paid some manufacturers to exclusively pre-install the Google Search app
  • Stopped manufacturers from selling devices with other Android versions (Android “forks”), by threating them to not license the Google Play Store

These measures gave Google a dominant position on the market, limiting competition, as well as restricting other Android versions such as Amazon’s Fire OS, under the threat of taking the license for the Google Play Store away.

Curiously, a lot of people have gone ahead and defended Google while attacking the European Commission’s decision, even if other companies such as Microsoft did the exact thing in their day with Bing. Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, published a long blogpost explaining why the Commission is wrong, although half of it are just lies, such as when the CEO mentions all apps can be uninstalled, which is NOT the case with Google’s “system” apps, such as “Play Music”, “Play Games”, “Play Movies” or even Hangouts’ replacement, “Duo”.

Even US President Donald Trump joined the discussion, accusing the European Union of taking advantage of the US by fining “one of our great companies, Google”. As per usual, Trump is ignoring the fact that it is the US who is taking advantage of the EU, by having all its military bases here, with all the US companies making billions here without or barely paying any taxes (including Google and Apple) and demolishing any competition coming from the European market. Trump is also ignoring the fact that the US “slapped” (using his own words) fines on several European banks, such as BNP Paribas, who, alone, had to pay 9 billion dollars, or Deutsche Bank with 7 billion dollars.

The worrying part of Trump’s claims is “They [EU] truly have taken advantage of the U.S., but not for long!”. This could be interpreted in various ways, but it is impossible to deny that this is a direct threat to the European Union.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, recently posted their financial results for the second quarter, beating expectations with a revenue of 32.7 billion dollars, with the 5.1 billion dollars fine included. This does give a different outlook on Pichai’s words of a paying version of Android due to the fine, as it seems Google is doing very well.

This is not the first time the European Commission fines Google. Already back in 2017, the Commission fined Google 2.42 billion euros for abusing their dominant position as a search engine to push their own comparison shopping service, to the detriment of other companies.

The full press releases from the European Commission can be found here:

Press release 1
Press release 2