European Union expected to fine Google $5 billion in record-breaking fine

European Union expected to fine Google $5 billion in record-breaking fine

But Brussels has had USA tech giants in its sights for a decade in a half, since it imposed a huge 497 million euro fine on Microsoft in 2004 for anti-competitive behaviour and ruled it must make changes to its Windows system.

The EU's decision would bring the running total of Google fines to 6.7 billion after last year's penalty over shopping-search services.

[T] he bloc's antitrust regulator found Wednesday that Google had abused the dominance of its Android operating system, which runs more than 80 percent of the world's smartphones, to promote and entrench its own mobile apps and services, particularly the company's search engine. The issue, the European Union says, is that Google requires Android device makers to pre-install the Google search and browser apps on "practically all" devices sold in Europe; in the past, the company used financial incentives to further encourage pre-installation.

"Google has engaged in illegal practices to cement its dominant market position in internet search", EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said as she announced the huge fine. The EC has another antitrust case against Google opened over alleged abuse of the company's AdSense network. Google will account for a third of all global mobile ads in 2018, according to research firm eMarketer, giving the company around $40 billion in sales outside the U.S. Google risks losing that traction if it is forced to surrender its real estate on millions of Android phones.

The Commission's decision was delayed by a week by US President Donald Trump's visit to a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels last week.

The record-setting fine almost doubles the €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion) penalty levied against Google previous year for pushing its own shopping results to the top of search pages. The EU Commission also dismissed Google's argument that Apple was a competitor to Android devices, saying the iPhone maker does not sufficiently constrain Google because of its higher prices and switching costs for users.

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"The Commission decision concerns three specific types of contractual restrictions that Google has imposed on device manufacturers and mobile network operators".

EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager will hold a news conference later today, the European Commission said. Android phone users can easily install other applications, even if they're not pre-installed by manufacturers, he noted. These laws are in place to ensure that fair competition is maintained among business corporations for the benefit of consumers. "This means that we earn revenue only if our apps are installed, and if people choose to use our apps instead of the rival apps", said Pichai.

Google and the European Union are certainly not on friendly terms right now, and haven't been for quite some time.

"Phone makers don't have to include our services; and they're also free to pre-install competing apps alongside ours".

Functionally, preventing an altered version - or "fork" - of Android also prevents Samsung, a hugely popular maker of Android devices through its Galaxy line, from breaking off and taking much of the Android ecosystem with it. Currently, an OEM that wants to partner with Google and sell certified devices with Google services can not also go out and sell devices with incompatible Android forks - something built from open source without support for standard Android software and features.

Pichai intends to appeal the fines.

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