Google faces record US$5 billion fine from European Union over Android

Google pays "certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators" to exclusively pre-install the Google Search app on their devices.

The EU says that Google has imposed these illegal restrictions on Android device makers and mobile network operators since 2011, and it has done so to illegally "cement its dominant position in general Internet search".

Google Search is pre-installed as the default web search service on most Android devices sold in Europe, closing off ways for rival search engines to access the market according to the European Union ruling.

Vestager said that "companies must compete on their merits", playing by antitrust rules that favor consumers and open markets, and not restrict competition.

European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the technology giant was "denying rivals a chance to innovate and compete", which was "illegal under EU antitrust rules".

The EC has given 90 days to stop the three anticompetitive practices, and if the firm doesn't comply, it will face penalty payments of up to 5 per cent of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet.

Ms Vestager previously fined Google €2.4bn ($2.8bn; £2.1bn) over a separate probe into its shopping comparison service - a ruling the tech firm is in the process of appealing against. Its representatives did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

The case is the most important out of a trio of antitrust cases against Google because of Android's enormous growth potential.

Asked on whether breaking up Google would solve the issue, a call made by a number of Google foes, she said she was not sure if that was the solution.

That takes the total expenditure from the search firm on European Union imposed fines to $6.7 billion (£5.1 billion) since 2017.

Google has denied the charges, saying that bundling search with its Google Play allows it to offer the entire package for free, and that smartphone makers and users have a wide choice.

Vestager has charged Google in the past.

Since then, Google has been fighting the case and it's now stuck in court. "This is a clear restriction of competition which hurts European consumers", said Monique Goyens, head of the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC).

And the decision cites Google's efforts to prevent any alternative versions of the Android system from being developed and deployed.

Google is expected to appeal the decision.

"Android means manufacturers don't have to buy or build expensive mobile operating systems". Google makes around $30 billion in revenue per quarter right now and its parent company, Alphabet, turned over more than $100 billion a year ago.

"Rapid innovation, wide choice and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition and Android has enabled all of them".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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