Google Chrome Android

Google has been ordered to pay a record-breaking fine by the EU regulators over anti-trust violations relating to the pre-installation of the Chrome browser and associated Google Play Services on devices running Android. The fine may not even be the biggest punishment doled out by the EU today however…

This fine trumps the original €2.42bn ($2.7bn) record penalty paid by the company just last year. Google is still appealing the ruling made after an investigation over manipulated search results across all platforms. The verdict also comes at the end of a 39-month investigation by the European commission’s competition authorities.

The cost may be a record-breaker, but it amounts to just 16 days of revenue for Alphabet based upon 2017 financial figures.

The EU has issued an ultimatum to Google to cease what the EU has called “illegal practices.” This regards direct contracts with OEMs that rely on Google services for user interaction and access. Alphabet now has 90 days to essentially “unbundle” search and Chrome from Android.

Margrethe Vestager, currently serving as European Commissioner for Competition, took to Twitter to denounce the business practices, citing the ‘denial of rival innovation’ to be one of the major determining factors in the EU’s decision. In an official statement, she added:

“Today, mobile internet makes up more than half of global internet traffic. It has changed the lives of millions of Europeans. Our case is about three types of restrictions that Google has imposed on Android device manufacturers and network operators to ensure that traffic on Android devices goes to the Google search engine. In this way, Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits. They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.”

As the commonly touted ‘open source’ hardware alternative, Android has developed into the most popular mobile OS, but it has seen Google slowly attach key components into the Google Play Services software. OEMs wanting to offer Google’s popular services are forced to play by the company’s rules and guidelines, and most outside of the Chinese market follow that.

In response to the Commission, Google has both tweeted and put up a blog post where it confirms it will be appealing this ruling. The company emphasizes that Android has created more choice, not less.

Rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition and Android has enabled all of them. Today’s decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less. We intend to appeal.

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Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter: @iamdamienwilde. Email:

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