In a new anti-trust matter in the EU involving Google, the US-based search giant could be hit with a massive fine that entirely eclipses any previous fines that have been levied on the company. Only last year, Google was hit with a massive $2.7 billion fine for manipulating shopping search results by the EU. This time, the violations being alleged pertain to Google’s dominance on the global smartphone operating system market with its Android OS.
In the previous case, the EU ruled that Google has been using its dominance in the search field to promote its own shopping comparison service, in violation of anti-competitive and anti-trust laws in place in Europe. In this case, the alleged violations suggest that Google has forced smartphone manufacturers that use its Android mobile operating system to install its Chrome browser and search tools on the phones.
Apart from also offering financial incentives to smartphone makers for doing so, Google also threatened these manufacturers with cutting off access to the Google Play Store if they didn’t comply with requirements. The EU and European Commission has taken the view that this amounts to anti-competitive practices, where Google is unfairly using its dominant position to force its services on users. Google has also allegedly prevented smartphone makers from developing forked versions of Android, once again threatening to cut off Play Store access if smartphone makers do so.
The matter has been in deliberation since 2016, and the EU and European Commission are expected to deliver a verdict on this soon. If held guilty of these violations, Google could face a fine much larger than the $2.7 billion that was levied on it last year. Reports suggest the fine could cross $11 billion, which will be a significant setback to Google financially. It could also force Google to change its practices in Europe and the world over.
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The EU’s actions may seem particularly harsh, considering that Google spends a considerable amount of time and resources on the development of the Android operating system for smartphones. Google’s moves can be considered as attempting to provide a consistent experience across the ecosystem, but its specific actions could understandably be held in violation of the EU’s measures to prevent anti-competitive practices, which are among the most stringent in the world.