Google appeals €4.34bn Android fine levelled by European Commission

10 Oct 2018259 Views

Image: © Dmitry Guzhanin/Stock.adobe.com

The Android operating system powers the majority of smartphones in the world today, and Google is arguing that it creates more choice for consumers, not less.

Google has appealed a European Commission (EC) decision to fine it €4.34bn for alleged antitrust violations in relation to its popular Android operating system.

“We have now filed our appeal of the European Commission Android decision at the General Court of the EU,” the company stated.

In July, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager ruled that since 2011, Google has imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search. She gave Google 90 days to end the practice or face penalty payments of up to 5pc of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

The sanction nearly doubled a previous record EU antitrust fine of €2.4bn over its shopping comparison service in 2017.

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Android is the operating system that runs on 85.9pc of smartphones in the world today, according to Gartner.

Vestager claimed that Google engaged in anticompetitive practices that bolstered its dominance of the smartphone world.

She said that firstly, Google required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and Chrome browser on smartphones as a pre-condition for licensing the Play Store. Secondly, she said Google made payments to large manufacturers and mobile network operators on the condition that they exclusively pre-install the Google Search app on their devices. And thirdly, Vestager said the EC ruled that Google prevented manufacturers from selling mobile devices running alternative versions of Android, known as Android forks, which were not approved by Google.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded in July by refuting the accusations and said the decision ignored the fact that Android phones compete with Apple phones that run on iOS with their own pre-installed apps. Pichai said the EU decision misses the point that its operating system has created more choice for consumers, not less.

John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist who served as editor of Siliconrepublic.com for 17 years.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com