Google’s problems in Europe is about to reach a new level as the European Commission is close to giving the US tech giant an ultimatum over anti-competitive business practices. This time, it is Android that is on the hot seat, with EU’s antitrust regulators telling Google to stop paying or discounting OEMs to pre-install its Google Play Store and services on Android devices. Depending on how the events turn, Google could end up paying a hefty fine based on profits extending as far back as 2011.
The complaint, filed with the Commission back in 2013, alleges that Google is using illegal business practices in order to ensure its dominance in the search market via Android. In particular, it was said to be offering OEMs discounts, or even up front money, to ship devices with Google Play Services and apps, which includes having Google Search by default.
Google naturally denied the anti-competitive nature of its dealings with Android OEMs and that the Android platform is open enough for manufacturers and software vendors to use whatever default apps or services they prefer. Google, however, does have a certification process where OEMs need to comply with certain device standards and features in order to be eligible to ship with Google’s mobile services, which have practically become expected parts of the Android experience.
The EU regulators, however, would have none of that and is practically telling Google to stop it. If Google does get fined, it will be paying in millions, perhaps billions, as the alleged anti-competitive practices date as far back as 2011. The sum would also be based on the company’s profits from AdWords, Search queries, Play Store purchases, and AdMob.
The European Commission hasn’t given an official statement yet, but Google remains firm that it can prove its innocence. Given how it has fair in other antitrust lawsuits in the region, however, that might be a losing battle.