Internet giant Google has received a 4.3 billion euro fine from the European Union and asked to amend the way it puts search and web browser apps on Android mobile devices. The fine sets a global record for antitrust penalties.
Google was also given 90 days to stop what the EU said were "illegal practices" on contracts with handset manufacturers that push Google services in front of users.
In an email statement, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said â€œGoogle has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits."
Google has built an immense business of banner and videos ads, mainly through its role on Android devices and will account for a third of all global mobile ads in 2018, according to research firm eMarketer, giving the company around $40 billion in sales outside the US. Google risks losing that advantage if it is forced to surrender its real estate on millions of Android phones.
This latest fine by the EU follows last yearâ€™s penalty of 2.4 billion euros over shopping-search services. It could soon be followed by more fines from a probe into online advertising contracts.
Google owner Alphabet Inc. and the commission both declined to comment on the Android fines.
EU officials have been investigating Google contracts that require manufacturers of Android phones to take Googleâ€™s search and browser apps and other Google services when they want to license the Play app store, which officials say is a "must-have" for new phones.
The EU is also looking into Googleâ€™s payments to telecoms operators and manufacturers who exclusively install Google search on devices and contracts that prevent handset makers selling phones using other versions of Android.
Google has previously said it will argue that the EU is wrong and that it doesnâ€™t block users or handset manufacturers from installing other apps. In its view, an EU ruling will harm app developers and customers by undercutting Googleâ€™s business model of giving away Android software and generating revenue from mobile advertising. Saying this keeps the price of smartphones low.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained that rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition and Android has enabled all of them. He also said that todayâ€™s decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less, and that they intend to appeal.
Google has a market share of more than 90 percent for general Internet search, licensed smart mobile operating systems and app stores for Android software, the EU said in 2016.
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