European Union fines Google a record $5 billion over mobile system

Image      Google has been slammed by the EU for abusing its control of Android OS

- Why has the European Commission fined Google?

"Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine", EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

- How much has Google been fined?

Android, which runs about 80 percent of the world's smartphones according to market research firm Strategy Analytics, is the most important case out of a trio of antitrust cases against Google. In particular, Google has required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and browser app (Chrome), as a condition for licensing Google's app store (the Play Store) and made payments to some equipment manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices. It also prevented manufacturers from selling devices running on alternative versions of its Android operating system.

"Dominance is not a problem under European Union antitrust rules", Margrethe Vestager said.

However, Google may challenge the ruling.

Vestager is expected to announce that Google abused its dominant position in the market by making tie-ups with phone makers like South Korea's Samsung and China's Huawei.

Vestager said that "companies must compete on their merits", playing by antitrust rules that favor consumers and open markets, and not restrict competition.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager gives a joint press conference at the EU Headquarters in Brussels
Image Margrethe Vestager has won her office a reputation for tackling US companies

Google denies any wrongdoing and will appeal against the decision.

"Android has created more choice for everyone, not less", said Google spokesman Al Verney. "This is why we intend to appeal today's Android decision", he tweeted on Wednesday. "A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition", it said.

- What does the decision mean for Android?

The European Commission said Google has to stop its behaviour within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5 percent of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google's parent company.

The Commission has been investigating Google's use of Android since 2015 after European and American rivals complained.

The penalty is almost double the previous record of 2.4 billion euros which Google was ordered to pay past year after its online shopping search service was deemed to be unfair to competitors.

Europe has hit Google with a record $5 billion fine.

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