European Union regulators fine Google record S$6.9b in Android case

EU hits Google with $5bn fine for breaking competition rules

Brussels has repeatedly targeted Google over the past decade

Google has been fined a record €4.3 billion ($5 billion/£3.8 billion) by Europe's competition watchdog for abusing its dominant Android mobile operating system to cement the popularity of Google apps and services.

Announcing the fine, which is the largest ever antitrust penalty and dwarfs the €2.1bn fine already hand to the firm over its "anticompetitive" Google Shopping service, European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Google was in breach of competition law using Android as a vehicle to "cement the dominance of its search engine".

Google also gave "financial incentives" to manufacturers and mobile network operators if they pre-installed Google Search on their devices, the commission said. Previously Ms Vestager accused Google of anti-competitive behavior and demanded that Android should not force OEMs to set Google as their default search engine and pre-install Chrome to have access to Google Play.

Vestager said that "companies must compete on their merits", playing by antitrust rules that favor consumers and open markets, and not restrict competition. Recent reports said the new fine would break the previous record for the European Union region, which must have been awful news for Google given that the company was the holder of that dishonorable record.

The fine comes with sweeping requirements for...

A Google spokesman said that the company would comment on the decision later Wednesday.

Despite being a record fine, Alphabet generated about the same amount of money every 16 days in 2017, based on the company's reported annual revenue of $110.9 billion for the year.

It said that Google paid some large smartphone makers and network operators to install apps on phones before they were sold.

EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager will hold a news conference later today, the European Commission said. "Our business model keeps manufacturers' costs low and their flexibility high, while giving consumers unprecedented control of their mobile devices", Kent Walker, a Google senior vice president and general counsel, wrote after the Commission's 2016 statement of objections.

Google is preparing itself to be been slapped with a record-breaking fine from the European Union, tipped to be nearly $5 billion (£3.8 billion). Google's search business accounts for the majority of its revenue.

Android has around 80% of the European smartphone market and, with the rest of the market being Apple's, phone manufacturers can not plausibly switch to a non-Google operating system.

This is not the first time Google faces problems in the EU. The Commission said that about 80% of smartphones in Europe and worldwide run on Android.

Google is appealing that fine, and will appeal the new one too.

Regulators rejected arguments that Apple Inc. competes with Android, saying Apple's phone software can't be licensed by handset makers and that Apple phones are often priced outside many Android users' purchasing power.

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