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Google could face yet another multi-billion-dollar fine in Europe, this one for Android

Published Jun 7th, 2018 11:34PM EDT
Android Antitrust Fine
Image: Google

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About a year ago, Google received a massive antitrust fine in Europe for abusing its search dominance. The EU decided Google should pay €2.42 billion for its transgressions or about $2.7 billion. That was more than double what Intel got a few years before that.

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of that fine, the EU is about to deliver a new multi-billion dollar blow to Google, and this time around it might be a more significant one, because it’s about Android.

The EU did not just investigate Google’s search-related practices in the region in the past few years; it also looked at Android. And according to The Financial Times via The New York Times, Google is about to face Europe’s wrath once again.

The European Commission can levy fines of up to 10% of the global turnover of Alphabet, which is Google’s parent, which would amount to some $11 billion. But it’s unlikely for the EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager to seek a maximum fine.

Vestager said that the commission is “poised to announce the negative finding within weeks,” without revealing an actual number.

Aside from the hefty fine, which Google isn’t likely to avoid completely, the company might have to make several changes to its Android business practices.

What’s somewhat ironic is that Android itself doesn’t bring in any money, as device makers are free to use the operating system. But there’s a big but there. Device makers have to agree to use all of Google’s products and give them prime placement on devices — or at least that used to be the case.

That’s how Google conquered the mobile space when it comes to market share. It’s all about Google search and ads, which is how Google’s Android makes money.

The previous fine didn’t disrupt Google’s way of doing things when it comes to search, but Android is different. Google already suffered a similar defeat in Russia, where it agreed to allow Android device makers to preload their services on Android devices, including alternative search engines. Russia’s fine was a lot easier on Google’s bottom line, however, at less than $8 million.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.