Google in court to appeal European Union’s 2018 Android antitrust case


Google is heading to a top European Union court Monday to appeal a record EU antitrust penalty imposed for stifling competition through the dominance of its Android operating system.


The company is fighting a 2018 decision from the EU’s executive Commission, the bloc’s top antitrust enforcer, that resulted in the 4.34 billion-euro (USD 5 billion) fine still the biggest ever fine Brussels has imposed for anticompetitive behavior.





It’s one of three antitrust penalties totaling more than USD 8 billion that the commission hit Google with between 2017 and 2019.


The others focused on shopping and search, and the California company is appealing all three.


While the penalties involved huge sums, critics point out that Google can easily afford them and that the fines haven’t done much to widen competition.


In its original decision, the commission said Google’s practices restrict competition and reduce choices for consumers.


Google, however, plans to argue that free and open source Android has led to lower-priced phones and spurred competition with its chief rival, Apple.


Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world.


This case isn’t supported by the facts or the law, the company said as the five-day hearing opens at the European Court of Justice’s General Court.


The EU Commission declined to comment.


Android is the most popular mobile operating system, beating even Apple’s iOS, and is found on four out of five devices in Europe.


The Commission ruled that Google broke EU rules by requiring smartphone makers to take a bundle of Google apps if they wanted any at all, and prevented them from selling devices with altered versions of Android.


The bundle contains 11 apps, including YouTube, Maps and Gmail, but regulators focused on the three that had the biggest market share: Google Search, Chrome and the company’s Play Store for apps.


Google’s position is that because Android is open source and free, phone makers or consumers can decide for themselves which apps to install on their devices.


And because it’s the only one bearing the costs of developing and maintaining Android, Google has to find ways to recoup that expense, so its solution is to include apps that will generate revenue, namely Search and Chrome.


The company also argues that just because its apps come pre-installed on Android phones, it doesn’t mean users are excluded from downloading rival services.


The Commission also took issue with Google’s payments to wireless carriers and phone makers to exclusively pre-install the Google Search app. But Google said those deals amounted to less than 5 per cent of the market, so they couldn’t possibly hurt rivals.


Following the ruling, Google made some changes to address the issues, including giving European Android users a choice of browser and search app, and charging device makers to pre-install its apps.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor