Google appeals $ 5 billion antitrust fine in EU: NPR

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Google’s exhibit building showcases a variety of devices with Google Assistant, including Android smartphones and Wear OS smartwatches at the 2020 CES tech show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ross D. Franklin / AP


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Ross D. Franklin / AP


Google’s exhibit building showcases a variety of devices with Google Assistant, including Android smartphones and Wear OS smartwatches at the 2020 CES tech show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ross D. Franklin / AP

LONDON – Google went to a European Union court on Monday to appeal a record antitrust sanction imposed by the EU for stifling competition over the dominance of its Android operating system.

The company opposes a 2018 decision by the EU Executive Board, the bloc’s main antitrust enforcement official, which resulted in the fine of 4.34 billion euros (5 billion euros). dollars) – still the biggest fine ever imposed by Brussels for anti-competitive behavior.

It’s one of three antitrust sanctions totaling more than $ 8 billion that the commission imposed on Google between 2017 and 2019. The others have focused on shopping and research, and the California-based company is appealing all three. While the penalties involved huge sums, critics point out that Google can easily afford them and that the fines haven’t done much to widen competition.

In its initial ruling, the commission said Google’s practices restrict competition and reduce choices for consumers.

Google, however, plans to argue that free and open source Android has led to cheaper phones and has spurred competition with its main rival, Apple.

“Android has created more choices for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world. This case is not supported by the facts or the law,” the company said. at the opening of the five-day hearing at the General Court of the Court of Justice of the European Communities.

The European Commission declined to comment. The court’s decision is not expected until next year.

Android is the most popular mobile operating system, even beating Apple’s iOS, and is found on four out of five devices in Europe.

The Commission ruled that Google had broken EU rules by forcing smartphone makers to take a set of Google apps if they wanted, and prevented them from selling devices with modified versions of Android.

The pack contains 11 apps, including YouTube, Maps, and Gmail, but regulators have focused on the three with the largest market share: Google Search, Chrome, and the company’s Play Store for apps.

Google’s position is that since Android is open source and free, phone makers or consumers can decide for themselves which apps to install on their devices. And because it is the only one to bear the costs of developing and maintaining Android, Google must find ways to recoup this expense, so its solution is to include applications that will generate income, namely Search and Chrome. .

The company also argues that just because its apps come preinstalled on Android phones, doesn’t mean users are excluded from downloading competing services.

The Commission also challenged Google’s payments to mobile operators and phone makers to exclusively preinstall the Google Search app. But Google said those deals made up less than 5% of the market, so they couldn’t hurt their rivals.

Following the ruling, Google made a few changes to address the issues, including offering European Android users a choice of browser and search app, and instructing device makers to preinstall its apps.


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