EU ‘will fine Google $5 BILLION for freezing out rivals to its Android phone system’
- The fine is set to be announced at 12 pm BST (7am ET) by the EU commissioner
- Anti-trust penalty will focus on the monopoly Google has in its Android software
- Google’s Play Store accounts for more than 90 per cent of apps downloaded
- The company is able to make its ads appear in more apps than its rivals
- Last year, a landmark EU penalty saw Google fined £2.1bn over online shopping
Google is preparing itself to be been slapped with a record-breaking fine from the European Union, tipped to be almost $5 billion (£3.8 billion).
If accurate, the latest anti-trust penalty for the US search firm would be the same amount of money as the Netherlands contributes to the EU budget each year.
The fine will be announced during a press conference in Brussels at 1pm local time today (12pm BST/7pm ET).
Google CEO Sundar Pichai purportedly received a call from EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager last night about the forthcoming fine.
The crux of the issue is the monopoly Google has garnered within the Android app marketplace and the advertising advantage this provides the company.
Google is readying itself to be been slapped with a record-breaking fine by the European Union that is more than double previous estimates (stock)
The latest fine comes more than a year after the European Commission issued a landmark £2.1 billion ($2.8bn / €2.4bn) penalty on Google for favouring its own shopping service over competitors.
That takes the total expenditure from the search firm on EU imposed fines to $6.7 billion (£5.1 billion) since 2017.
The EU penalty is likely to exceed the 2017 fine because of the broader scope of the Android case, experts claim.
The EU antitrust enforcer has charged Google with using its dominant Android to marginalise rivals following a three-year-long investigation – seen as the most important of three EU cases against the world’s most popular internet search engine.
The Mountain View-based company’s high payouts to app developers, coupled with its entrenched relationship with millions of advertisers, has turned Google into the main revenue source for many apps.
That total expenditure for the search firm on EU imposed fines has now risen to $6.7 billion (£5.1 billion) since 2017. The EU penalty is likely to exceed the 2017 fine because of the broader scope of the Android case, experts claim
Google’s own Play Store, which is used to distribute television shows, movies, applications, and ebooks, accounts for more than 90 per cent of all software downloaded on Android devices in Europe.
Its popularity in turn could mean an uphill battle for EU antitrust regulators seeking to level the playing field for Google’s rivals.
Lawmakers will need to ensure users can download from competing app stores and that smartphone makers are free to choose pre-installed apps.
EU regulators say Google has tilted the field in its favour by forcing phone makers to pre-install Google Search together with its Play Store and Chrome browser.
WHY WAS GOOGLE SLAPPED WITH A RECORD £2.1BN EU FINE IN 2017?
Google was slapped with a record fine in June 2017 of £2.1bn ($2.84 / €2.42bn by Europe’s competition watchdog after breaching antitrust rules with its online shopping service.
The European Commission gave the internet search firm 90 days to stop the practice or face a penalty of up to five per cent of the average daily turnover of the firm’s parent company, Alphabet.
The penalty came after the competition referee launched an investigation into Google Shopping eight years ago.
This was amid complaints it gave the service a prominent position on the internet search engine, while rival services were demoted.
In a statement at the time of the verdict, commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: ‘Google has come up with many innovative products and services that have made a difference to our lives.
‘That’s a good thing. But Google’s strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals.’
‘Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors.’