Wednesday, July 18th 2018

Antitrust: European Commission Fines Google for Record €4.34 billion for Illegal Practices

It's a record-setting fine: the European Commission has officially ruled that Google must pay a fine of €4.34 billion for breaking antitrust laws, specifically related to the implementation of its services within the Android ecosystem. The three key areas within which the EC has found wrongdoings pertain to bundling of its search engine and Chrome apps into the operating system; blocking phone makers from creating devices that run forked versions of Android (claiming, without proof, that these versions would offer more security risks), and "made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators" to exclusively bundle the Google Search app on handsets.

Google now has 90 days to comply with the EC's decision (notwithstanding payment of the fine), which Google, obviously, has already announced will appeal the decision. In a statement to The Verge, a Google representative said that "Android has created more choice for everyone, not less. A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation, and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition," and that Google "(...) will appeal the Commission's decision." The idea here seems to be to stop Google from forcing manufacturers to bundle their app and search software stacks - many times in a seemingly unremovable way. You can check the press release in the source link, but some of the more interesting snippets have been collated after the break.
Pre-installation can create a status quo bias. Users who find search and browser apps pre-installed on their devices are likely to stick to these apps. For example, the Commission has found evidence that the Google Search app is consistently used more on Android devices, where it is pre-installed, than on Windows Mobile devices, where users must download it. This also shows that users do not download competing apps in numbers that can offset the significant commercial advantage derived through pre-installation.

(...)

The Commission also assessed in detail Google's arguments that the tying of the Google Search app and Chrome browser were necessary, in particular to allow Google to monetise its investment in Android, and concluded that these arguments were not well founded. Google achieves billions of dollars in annual revenues with the Google Play Store alone, it collects a lot of data that is valuable to Google's search and advertising business from Android devices, and it would still have benefited from a significant stream of revenue from search advertising without the restrictions.

(...)

Google granted significant financial incentives to some of the largest device manufacturers as well as mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed Google Search across their entire portfolio of Android devices. This harmed competition by significantly reducing their incentives to pre-install competing search apps.

(...)

The effects of Google's illegal practices
The Commission decision concludes that these three types of abuse form part of an overall strategy by Google to cement its dominance in general internet search, at a time when the importance of mobile internet was growing significantly.

First, Google's practices have denied rival search engines the possibility to compete on the merits. The tying practices ensured the pre-installation of Google's search engine and browser on practically all Google Android devices and the exclusivity payments strongly reduced the incentive to pre-install competing search engines. Google also obstructed the development of Android forks, which could have provided a platform for rival search engines to gain traffic. Google's strategy has also prevented rival search engines from collecting more data from smart mobile devices, including search and mobile location data, which helped Google to cement its dominance as a search engine.

Furthermore, Google's practices also harmed competition and further innovation in the wider mobile space, beyond just internet search. That's because they prevented other mobile browsers from competing effectively with the pre-installed Google Chrome browser. Finally, Google obstructed the development of Android forks, which could have provided a platform also for other app developers to thrive.

Consequences of the decision
The Commission's fine of €4 342 865 000 takes account of the duration and gravity of the infringement.
Sources: European Comission Press Release, via The Verge
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53 Comments on Antitrust: European Commission Fines Google for Record €4.34 billion for Illegal Practices

#1
Durvelle27
This is no different than Apple preinstalled Safari or Siri search
Posted on Reply
#2
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
Durvelle27 said:
This is no different than Apple preinstalled Safari or Siri search
Or when M$ preinstalled IE and the US government said that wasn't fair to competing browsers like Netscape. Generally the people making the rules don't know and don't care. Their pockets are being lined which is why they got into politics.
Posted on Reply
#3
Raevenlord
News Editor
Easy Rhino said:
Or when M$ preinstalled IE and the US government said that wasn't fair to competing browsers like Netscape. Generally the people making the rules don't know and don't care. Their pockets are being lined which is why they got into politics.
Actually, Microsoft was fined by the EC as well on that account you're referring to. Google themselves should read history.
Posted on Reply
#4
Prima.Vera
Those decisions are retarded to say the least....
Posted on Reply
#5
lynx29
Easy Rhino said:
Or when M$ preinstalled IE and the US government said that wasn't fair to competing browsers like Netscape. Generally the people making the rules don't know and don't care. Their pockets are being lined which is why they got into politics.
I used to be skeptical of comments like yours, then I realized a local city councilman of mine was complaining about his 8 minute commute from his house in order to get on the highway, and got a 70 million dollar project voted for to reduce there being a exit to highway closer to his home... you can't tell me he didn't get some kickback from that vote. LOL 8 minutes... cry me a river princess.
Posted on Reply
#6
bug
Durvelle27 said:
This is no different than Apple preinstalled Safari or Siri search
It's different, because what's being discussed here is what Google imposed on other parties. Apple is free to do whatever they want with their phones.

Still, this is yet another sample of bureaucracy at its finest: fining Google for stifling innovation. Maybe Google should exit EU and let us deal solely with Apple. Then we'll have tons of smartphone models to pick from. :wtf:
Posted on Reply
#7
Fourstaff
bug said:

Still, this is yet another sample of bureaucracy at its finest: fining Google for stifling innovation.
Google is trying to control and monopolize Android the same way Microsoft did with their Windows-IE combo.

Off topic: 2008 crash was due to greedy bankers "innovating". Or FCC dropping net neutrality to support "competition".
Posted on Reply
#8
INSTG8R
Shocked I tell you! Shocked! :rolleyes:
Posted on Reply
#9
bug
Fourstaff said:
Google is trying to control and monopolize Android the same way Microsoft did with their Windows-IE combo.
Still, they could have been warned about this earlier. Looking into the matter for years and then suddenly slapping a multi bn dollar fine seems a little harsh.
And it's not the same as Windows-IE, because while IE was actually embedded into Windows, Google's apps come in a separate package from the OS. And let's be brutally honest about it: what other browser makes for a nice default on Android?
The accusation about barring producers from using other OSes also seems a bit strange. Off the top of my head I can tell at least HTC has been building both Android and Windows Phone smartphones for a while. Also, Nokia took several bn dollars from Microsoft to use their OS exclusively.

TO me it just looks like every few years the EU levies fines as if they want to balance our trading deficit or technological retardation.
Posted on Reply
#10
Fourstaff
bug said:
Still, they could have been warned about this earlier. Looking into the matter for years and then suddenly slapping a multi bn dollar fine seems a little harsh.
And it's not the same as Windows-IE, because while IE was actually embedded into Windows, Google's apps come in a separate package from the OS. And let's be brutally honest about it: what other browser makes for a nice default on Android?
The accusation about barring producers from using other OSes also seems a bit strange. Off the top of my head I can tell at least HTC has been building both Android and Windows Phone smartphones for a while. Also, Nokia took several bn dollars from Microsoft to use their OS exclusively.

TO me it just looks like every few years the EU levies fines as if they want to balance our trading deficit or technological retardation.
Not entirely sure how EU law works, so I am not sure if its typical to give warning or fine first, or this is the start of a long litigation process. Google has lived long enough to start becoming the villain in EU's eyes at least. We are past the "Use IE to download and install Chrome/Firefox" problem, even on phones (nevermind Chrome is very good default).
Posted on Reply
#11
ssdpro
Decisions like this a brutal buffoonery. Microsoft got slammed when Apple cried to the gov't that Windows was too good for bundling IE. Heaven forbid the company provide something that works. If Apple made cars they would cry that it isn't fair GM includes tires on their cars. Now Google gets slammed for including Chrome in android? I bet Apple and their stagnant 20% market share is behind the whining and crying to the EU.

http://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/mobile/worldwide/#monthly-201706-201806-bar
Posted on Reply
#12
bug
ssdpro said:
Decisions like this a brutal buffoonery. Microsoft got slammed when Apple cried to the gov't that Windows was too good for bundling IE. Heaven forbid the company provide something that works. If Apple made cars they would cry that it isn't fair GM includes tires on their cars. Now Google gets slammed for including Chrome in android? I bet Apple and their stagnant 20% market share is behind the whining and crying to the EU.

http://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/mobile/worldwide/#monthly-201706-201806-bar
I'm sure you'd see the problem if GM sold you a car with GM tires that you can't replace, only install other tires alongside/over them ;)
But that was the case with Windows-IE. As I have written above, Android-Google Apps is not like that.

The fine seems excessive, though. Unless Google has been given the chance to fix these before and didn't act on it. I don't recall the press writing about anything like that.
Posted on Reply
#13
Readlight
i think Google app is the best local news finder.
Posted on Reply
#14
neatfeatguy
When I got my Galaxy S8 (8-9 months ago) Chrome wasn't on it - I had to download it (or if it was on there, it wasn't the default web browser program). The Google Play store app wasn't even on the home page, I had to find it on my phone and add the app to the screen.

I had a bigger problem with the POS program "Bixby" that Samsung shoved in your face. Crappy software that was designed to integrate into pretty much everything you did on your phone.

If you take a picture, you get a pop up about how Bixby can help do other things with the pictures you take. Want to send a text message - Bixby can do other things with your text messages! Wish to edit a photo/video....Bixby can! Oh...you pressed the oddly placed button the left side of the phone that wasn't your volume....you poor SOB, that's the Bixby button! Bixby here! What do you want? What can I do! I'm Bixby....look at me....LOOK AT ME, USE ME AND LOVE ME!

I hate Bixby. Stupid ass program.....stupid Samsung and their Bixby.
Posted on Reply
#15
ssdpro
neatfeatguy said:
When I got my Galaxy S8 (8-9 months ago) Chrome wasn't on it - I had to download it (or if it was on there, it wasn't the default web browser program). The Google Play store app wasn't even on the home page, I had to find it on my phone and add the app to the screen.

I had a bigger problem with the POS program "Bixby" that Samsung shoved in your face. Crappy software that was designed to integrate into pretty much everything you did on your phone.

If you take a picture, you get a pop up about how Bixby can help do other things with the pictures you take. Want to send a text message - Bixby can do other things with your text messages! Wish to edit a photo/video....Bixby can! Oh...you pressed the oddly placed button the left side of the phone that wasn't your volume....you poor SOB, that's the Bixby button! Bixby here! What do you want? What can I do! I'm Bixby....look at me....LOOK AT ME, USE ME AND LOVE ME!

I hate Bixby. Stupid ass program.....stupid Samsung and their Bixby.
+100
Posted on Reply
#16
Vayra86
Raevenlord said:
Actually, Microsoft was fined by the EC as well on that account you're referring to. Google themselves should read history.
Took the words right out of my mouth. I can only applaud this and my oh my that is pretty hefty fine, even for a giant such as this.

The EU is seemingly headed into a direction I very much like: they are setting the bar for how we use data and new technology, and define where companies cross the line. Even though we will never see a penny of this 4.34 billion, this is a perfect scare tactic for others.

I like the Google counter too: 'more choice for everyone'. How would you like your bar-shaped phone sir? With Google, Google, or some extra Google? If you want the extra Google, here's a Pixel. Otherwise you're free to pick any of the other Google phones but beware, some manufacturers add their own skin on top which makes everything slow!

The silliest thing of it all is that Google doesn't even NEED to push its own apps and search because in many cases, it is one of the best choices that a user will default to regardless. How different it was with MS and IE...

Readlight said:
i think Google app is the best local news finder.
Great, and I like trucks :p:kookoo:
Posted on Reply
#17
VulkanBros
Margrethe Vestager kicks ... :nutkick:
Posted on Reply
#18
Mescalamba
I would say its more related to Google and others being pretty good in evading taxes, so they simply find something to sue them for and since they made those laws, they surely find something and fine them. Probably closer to "getting piece of that" than anything else.

I dont have illusions that this is done for customers. :D Its done so someone could have money from something they never worked on.. Government theft, if you like..
Posted on Reply
#19
TheGuruStud
bug said:
It's different, because what's being discussed here is what Google imposed on other parties. Apple is free to do whatever they want with their phones.

Still, this is yet another sample of bureaucracy at its finest: fining Google for stifling innovation. Maybe Google should exit EU and let us deal solely with Apple. Then we'll have tons of smartphone models to pick from. :wtf:
Google can't even get OEMs to stop bloating the roms and using dumb skins, but they can force search engines? Gimme a break. This is another EU bullshit cash grab instead of going after real crooks.
Posted on Reply
#20
Shihabyooo
bug said:

The accusation about barring producers from using other OSes also seems a bit strange. Off the top of my head I can tell at least HTC has been building both Android and Windows Phone smartphones for a while. Also, Nokia took several bn dollars from Microsoft to use their OS exclusively.
Dunno if the original claim specifically used the general sense of "OS." But within the Android family of OSes, Google does not allow any OEM to ship their services' apps on a phone that uses a non Google-sanctioned android (see link in the second reply bellow).

TheGuruStud said:
Google can't even get OEMs to stop bloating the roms and using dumb skins, but they can force search engines? Gimme a break. This is another EU bullshit cash grab instead of going after real crooks.
It isn't that Google can't, it's that Google don't want to bother doing it. Google gains nothing from forcing all Android OEMs from using a single skin. It's actually more to Google's benefit that multiple different choices of their product exist. Google's rep was right on one thing, Google is pro-variety, as long as these options run on their infrastructure and pay their taxes and abide by their whims and laws.
Google has more power over the open-source Android than Microsoft has over the closed-source Windows, Ars wrote great article on this subject a few years ago.
Posted on Reply
#21
TheGuruStud
Shihabyooo said:
Dunno if the original claim specifically used the general sense of "OS." But within the Android family of OSes, Google does not allow any OEM to ship their services' apps on a phone that uses a non Google-sanctioned android (see link in the second reply bellow).



It isn't that Google can't, it's that Google don't want to bother doing it. Google gains nothing from forcing all Android OEMs from using a single skin. It's actually more to Google's benefit that multiple different choices of their product exist. Google's rep was right on one thing, Google is pro-variety, as long as these options run on their infrastructure and pay their taxes and abide by their whims and laws.
Google has more power over the open-source Android than Microsoft has over the closed-source Windows, Ars wrote great article on this subject a few years ago.
EU acts like google is making OEMs use their apps, which is a lie. OEMs can delete gapps, chrome and install whatver they want. They took the money gladly. If EU was interested in fairness, then they'd ban corporations from bribing each other.

As far as forks not being allowed, they're also within their right to block it. Google may want control, but security from their perspective makes sense. Google can provide all the updates in the world, but they can't make OEMs do shit (so much for all that control). Adding forks to the equation means even less updates and more vulnerabilities. Who knows what the idiots would break on top of it.

Guess who would get blamed from a fork allowing a massive data breach or phone destroying malware? If OEMs want to fork, then they can just make gapp clones and stfu.

I know I don't want any of their garbage. I want vanilla and I'll mod it myself. Even inbred Joe 6 pack wants vanilla.
Posted on Reply
#22
remixedcat
Wow the ec finally doing something decent!!!
Posted on Reply
#23
15th Warlock
Wow, this is in my opinion overreach by the EU, 5 billion dollars? Google created Android to compete against Apple's walled garden approach with iOS.

Most OEMs skin Android ad nauseum and even default to their own internet browsers as opposed to Google chrome, which I immediately install on every Android phone as soon as I get it out of the box as it is much better than the default browser Samsung includes with their phones.

Idk how the EU can slap such a big fine for Google including their search engine by default in Android, the search engine can be changed easily in the settings, and honestly, other search engines are not as good as Google's...

I hope Google can appeal this decision, I'm pretty sure none of the money collected by the EU will directly benefit any real users of Android based phones anyway, please correct me if I'm wrong
Posted on Reply
#24
Durvelle27
Honestly I do find this kind of funny. Considering for myself all my devices I use nothing but chrome. For me personally there’s no better browser. Now if the browser sucked I’d definitely stand behind this but on mobile there’s not many better options. There’s a lot of other companies that do worst that should be vetted walled vs Google for doing what every other company has been doing for years. Fighting the wrong battles.
Posted on Reply
#25
R-T-B
Durvelle27 said:
Fighting the wrong battles.
For you maybe.

I think the whole point is one view isn't the world's.
Posted on Reply
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