Europe has imposed a record-setting €4.3 billion ($5 billion) fine on Google for antitrust violations around its Android smartphone operating system.
In 2016, the EU Commission charged Google with forcing mobile network operators to install Chrome, search and other Google apps as the default or exclusive search service on most devices sold in Europe.
With a market share of over 80 percent in many countries, that effectively locked others out of the search market, creating a near-monopoly for the search giant.
“The Commission’s fine of €4,342,865,000 takes account of the duration and gravity of the infringement,” the EU Commission wrote. “In accordance with the Commission’s 2006 Guidelines … the fine has been calculated on the basis of the value of Google’s revenue from search advertising services on Android devices in the EEA [European Economic Area].
The Commission decision requires Google to bring its illegal conduct to an end in an effective manner within 90 days of the decision.”
In a statement to Engadget, Google said it would launch an appeal. “Android has created more choice for everyone, not less.
A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation, and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition. We will appeal the Commission’s decision.”
Google committed antitrust violations in three ways, the Commission said: It required manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and the Chrome browser on Android devices; paid manufacturers and mobile operators on the condition that they exclusively install the Google search app; and prevented manufacturers from selling any mobile devices running Android forks not approved by Google.
As an example of the latter, the EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager noted that Google stopped a large number of manufacturers from building and selling Amazon Fire TVs and other devices based on FireOS, an Android Fork. (That might explain why Amazon Fire TVs, conspicuously absent in Europe, are reportedly now coming soon.)
“Google is entitled to set technical requirements to ensure that functionality and apps within its own ecosystem run smoothly, but these technical requirements cannot serve as a smokescreen to prevent the development of competing Android ecosystems,” she said during a press conference this morning. “Google cannot have its cake and eat it.”