The multinational Google failed, Wednesday, September 14, with a record fine of 4.3 billion euros imposed in 2018 by the European Union (EU) which was canceled for abusing the dominant position of its Android operating system, according to a judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
“The action brought by Google is essentially rejected”, wrote the court. But, he judged “fit” to reduce the amount of the penalty to 4.1 billion euros, to better take into account the seriousness and duration of the violation. This is a judgment given for the first time and will be subject to appeal within two months. In a statement, Google said “disappointed” through this decision, added that“Android has created many options for everyone (…) and supports thousands of businesses in Europe and around the world ».
Brussels accused Google of forcing manufacturers of phones and tablets using its operating system to pre-install its search engine and browser (Chrome) to eliminate competitors. The Android system is used in approximately 80% of mobile devices worldwide.
“The court largely affirmed the Commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on mobile device manufacturers and mobile network operators, in order to consolidate its dominant search engine position”court details in a press release.
The California group considers the accusation unfounded. He seized European justice to obtain the cancellation of the fine, the highest ever decided by the competition authority in Brussels (even after the reduction proposed by the court).
Google believes the EU is wrongly ignoring competitor Apple, which favors its own services, such as the Safari browser, on its iPhones. “The commission is blind to the real competition in this sector, the one between Apple and Android”, explained the group’s lawyer, during the hearing last year. Google emphasizes that downloading competing apps is a click away and that customers are under no obligation to use its Android products.
Three lawsuits against Google
However, Wednesday’s decision should not close this dispute, which began in 2015 with the opening of a procedure at the European Commission, after many complaints from competitors. Google actually has the option of filing an appeal.
The case is one of three major disputes opened by Brussels against Google, whose actions are also disputed in the United States and Asia.
- In 2017, the Commission imposed a fine of 2.4 billion euros on Google for anticompetitive practices in the price comparison market. This fine was confirmed in November 2021. Google then announced that it was attractive.
- In 2019, the European executive still claims 1.5 billion euros from Google for competition violations attributed to its advertising management, AdSense.
- On the other hand, the European justice canceled in June a fine of almost 1 billion euros against the manufacturer of mobile telephony equipment Qualcomm, after already canceling in January a penalty of 1.06 billion euros against the chipmaker Intel electronics.
Frustrated by the endless litigation against the digital giants, the EU is creating new legislation to prevent abuses of the dominant position of the Silicon Valley giants. The Digital Markets Act (DMA), which will be implemented next year, will impose a series of upstream obligations and restrictions on groups such as Google, Apple, Meta (Facebook) and Amazon. It aims to act before abusive behavior destroys competition.