Weekly Tech-Talk: EU hits Google with $5bn, but it is not the end
Google was recently slapped with the most significant fine in history by the EU for their antitrust practices on its open-source Android mobile software.
However, Google’s antitrust practices go beyond that, and could Microsoft be next?
One company to rule them all
A Google spokesperson denied any involvement in the practice, The Verge, an industry site said, but the EU wasn’t having any of it. After a series of investigations into the company’s Android software, the European Commission says Google abused its Android market dominance in three key areas, according to multiple reports.
Subsequently, Google was hit with a $5 billion fine by EU regulators for breaking antitrust laws.
“Do no evil” -Google
The European Commission has been investigating Android more closely over the past year after rivals complained that Google has been abusing its market dominance in software that runs on smartphones.
FairSearch initially filed a complaint against Google back in 2013, and the group included competitors like Nokia, Microsoft, and Oracle.
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer also called Google a “monopoly” at the time, one that authorities should control, according to The Verge.
While Google and Microsoft ended their Android patent disagreements a few years ago, that hasn’t stopped the EU from investigating the original allegations.
Google has been bundling its search engine and Chrome apps into the operating system.
The company has also blocked phone makers from creating devices that run forked versions of Android, and it “made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators” to exclusively bundle the Google search app on handsets.
The European Commission now wants Google to bring its “illegal conduct to an end in an effective manner within 90 days of the decision.” That means Google will need to stop forcing manufacturers to preinstall Chrome and Google search to offer the Google Play Store on handsets.
Google will also need to stop preventing phone makers from using forked versions of Android, as the commission says Google “did not provide any credible evidence that Android forks would be affected by technical failures or fail to support apps.”
Google’s illegal payments for app bundling ceased in 2014 after the EU started to look into the issue.
Google will appeal the EU decision
Google now says it will appeal the decision. “Android has created more choice for everyone, not less. A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation, and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition,” says a Google spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “We will appeal the Commission’s decision.” Google is also warning that the EU’s decision may affect the free business model of Android in the future, according to Business Insider.
The $5 billion fine dwarfs Google’s previous $2.7 billion record-breaking fine from the EU last year over manipulated search results.
Not only this but DuckDuckGo, Google’s search engine competitor, has spoken on Twitter about another issue.
Will the next fine be more significant?
Chrome, Google’s hardware-intensive web browser, has been known, by many, to suggest using their search engine instead of its competitor.
Their anti-competitive search behavior isn’t limited to Android. Every time we update our Chrome browser extension, all of our users are faced with an official-looking dialogue asking them if they’d like to revert their search settings and disable the entire extension.
— DuckDuckGo (@DuckDuckGo) July 18, 2018
If that weren’t shady enough, you would not guess this next one.
If you were using Chrome on either Windows or Mac, and you had either Edge or Safari as your default browser Google will kindly suggest on almost every webpage and launching of a browser to switch to Chrome as your default browser.
However, that’s not all.
Google also owns Duck.com and points it directly at Google search, which consistently confuses DuckDuckGo users.
— DuckDuckGo (@DuckDuckGo) July 18, 2018
Speaking of Microsoft, they have been hit by an EU fine before, but their practices are not any different.
Is Microsoft next?
Microsoft was hit by a hefty fine as well, back in 2013, wiorth $657 million by the EU, but after Google’s recent punishment, our perception on what is considered malpractice by companies has changed slightly.
Microsoft has in the past, constantly advertised its Edge browser.
If you were to use your new default browser, Chrome; after multiple attempts by Google to convince you to switch, you would start receiving, almost, daily pop-ups all throughout the Windows 10 system to switch to Microsoft Edge again.