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3 min read 6 comments

Could Google be forced to change Android forever?

A $5 billion fine? Ouch. Even Google's got to feel that, at least a little. It's the EU vs Mountain View, as the European Commission has sentenced the Internet giant to a new record fine, this time for Android. Why? Antitrust regulators are disturbed by the dominant role of Android in interaction with online advertising.

The EU competition authorities are demanding a whopping 4.3 billion euros from Google this time, almost 2 billion more than the last, equally record-breaking, fine over manipulating shopping-search results.

The antitrust regulators see a problem in the dominance that Google has built up in the field of mobile advertising with its operating system. Although Android is in theory open-source, Google bundles in its own browser and apps in with Android and has also allegedly blocked phone makers from creating devices that run forked versions of Android.

This puts the search giant in an incredibly powerful position to benefit from advertising revenue on mobile devices. In 2018, more than a third of all mobile advertising revenue will be generated by Google. 

AndroidPIT Google Pixel 2 1661
Android is the focus of the cartel guards. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

Google allegedly made illegal payments to providers and manufacturers

The EU's accusations also include the fact that Google makes illegal payments to providers and hardware producers in order to ensure that only its own software is used on the end devices. The aim is to prevent other systems without Google services from growing big enough to compete. Naturally, smaller competitors just don't have the funds to lobby manufacturers on this scale.

Google has been given 90 days to stop what the EU said were "illegal practices" on contracts with handset manufacturers that push Google's own services to users. EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager officially handed down the verdict. In a brief statement, Google reacted to the verdict and announces an appeal:

However, economic experts had expected a fine of this magnitude, so Google could hardly have been taken by surprise. And the PR offensive strategy is already under way, with a new blog post by CEO Sundar Pichai stressing the benefits of Android to consumers and developers. One could argue of course, that Google doesn't have to buy the favor of manufacturers to deliver these benefits, however.

It will be exciting to see how Google reacts to this clear signal from Brussels that things must change. Advertising revenue is at the heart of Google's overall business concept, and despite slightly declining revenues and the increased use of ad blockers on mobile devices, the online advertising business is still extremely lucrative.

Do you think that Google deserves these penalties? Is it abusing its market position?

6 comments

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  • Bullying Google is only going to force them to become more like Apple - which means every manufacturer from Samsung to LG would have to pay for Android (passing the cost on to consumers) OR manufacturers would quit the Smartphone market (nobody is going to create their own OS and compete) OR Android Smartphones could cease being available in EU Countries (that doesn't sound consumer friendly but you can blame EU Commisoners for being aholes if that occurs).

    We all know IF Apple allowed other Companies to manufacture an iPhone? They'd want $ for the right to use their iOS and their Apps bundled with the product. It's just an ignorant fine / punishment.


    • Maybe we could reintroduce the symbian OS? That'd be progress! Bring back the Nokia e71! Total awesomeness.


  • 😰


  • And why isn't the same being levied against Apple? Apple bundles its apps to the point where you are not able to replace them. Sure you can install a different browser, but click on a link and Bam! The Apple browser launches. At least in Android you can select which browser launches. Just saying my two pfennig.


  • storm 3 months ago Link to comment

    Gapps is not Android. It seems to me the EU is being intentionally obtuse. The tablet and phone makers decide on Gapps or not, not Google. If Google is guilty, Apple is moreso.


    • You're not wrong, but what is Android without Google Apps? For most people it is boring and a waste of time that does nothing more than an 20 year old "smartphone". The tight integration with all of Google's services is what makes Android appealing.

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