United States president Donald Trump has lambasted the European Commission for hitting Google with a record breaking $5 billion fine amidst anti-competitive complaints, stating that the governing body is taking advantage of the US. The staggering number also has many concerned that Google will change its approach to Android, potentially removing it as a free, open-source mobile operating system.
Tensions between the EU and the US have been high as of late, with Trump identifying the European Union as a foe in last week’s interview with CBS, stating: “I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.”
The European Commission’s (EC) decision to punish Google for using its Android mobile operating system to further dominate the Search Engine and Browser markets has further strained the two nations, with Trump calling the decision out on Twitter. “I told you so! The European Union just slapped a Five Billion Dollar fine on one of our great companies, Google. They truly have taken advantage of the U.S., but not for long!”
I told you so! The European Union just slapped a Five Billion Dollar fine on one of our great companies, Google. They truly have taken advantage of the U.S., but not for long!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2018
It’s uncertain what Trump has planned for the future, but his comment follows the decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium in trade with the EU. This has garnered a worldwide backlash that could be the beginnings of a worldwide trade war.
Worries of Google removing Android’s open-source stance have been increasing since the EC’s decision, with reports claiming the lost ad revenue from smartphone manufacturers potentially dropping Google Chrome and Google Search as pre-installed defaults could be enough to tip the company over the edge.
This, however, seems unlikely given that Google’s unmodified version of Android still powers approximately 80 percent of European devices. It also relies on manufacturers to actively choose alternatives, which is similarly improbable as Google dominates a large portion of the browser and search engine markets on other platforms.
Overall, the sizeable $5bn sum is just 5 percent of Google’s accumulated global revenue, meaning the fine itself is unlikely to spark such a drastic change in the company’s business model. If anything, the EC forcing Google to abandon mandatory installation of its proprietary applications opens the door up for much more vibrant competition, which in itself should spark innovation in the long-term provided that rivals manage to entice manufacturers enough to be chosen over Google’s offerings.
KitGuru Says: Although this is seemingly a controversial opinion, the repercussions of the EC’s decision is likely to benefit both Android users and Google in the long run, as proven by China’s diverse market without the Play Store. It might just take some time to get there. How do you feel about Google’s fine?