Google once again came under fire from the European Commission last month for antitrust practices, this time for its alleged blocking access to its Play Store unless Android devices pre-install Google Chrome and Google Search. European Union competition chief Margrethe Vestager could impose a multibillion dollar fine against the company, alongside potentially implementing changes that threaten to destabilise Google’s ecosystem.
While fines could go as high as $11 billion, ten percent of earnings from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, people familiar with the matter don’t expect the figure to reach double-figures. It is, however, expected to top Google’s previous record-breaking fine of €2.42 billion ($2.7bn) levied against the company for prioritising its own shopping services during searches, effectively lowering the ranking of competitors.
The EU Commission is also reportedly looking into Google’s AdSense for its Search advertising services, thanks to its rapid growth on the mobile platform in comparison to its slower growth on desktop systems. With Android being open-source, Google says that it needs this revenue for the upkeep of its operating system, as it licenses it to device manufacturers for free. Although Google’s suite is set to default in Android devices, the company asserts that alternatives are always “just a click away.”
Lastly, Vestager has criticised Google’s policy that prevents the company from selling official versions of Android to manufacturers that also opt to market devices that run unofficial variants of the open-source operating system. Google has argued that it must ensure that all versions of Android are official in order for the compatibility of its applications, and any changes to its requirement could destabilise its ecosystem.
Google’s arguments are currently under review, with the company’s fate set to be revealed next week.
KitGuru Says: Personally, the alternatives to Google have always seemed a little lacking anyway, but it’s understandable why the EU Commission is concerned that the company is asserting its dominance in an anticompetitive way. Do you think Google’s policies are justifiable, or is it unfair against competition?