The American Giant Google failed this Wednesday in its attempt to annul a record fine of 4,300 million euros (4,304 million dollars) imposed in 2018 by the European Union (EU), for abuse of the dominant position of its Android operating system for mobile phones.
“The action brought by Google is essentially dismissed”The EU General Court ruled.
However, the court considered it “appropriate” to reduce the amount of the fine to 4,125 million euros (4,129 million dollars).
The reasons for the ruling were, firstly, for forcing Android device manufacturers to install the Google Search search engine and the Google Chrome browser in exchange for giving them the Play Store license, the company’s mobile application store.
Second, for preventing companies that wanted to sell mobile phones and tablets with Google applications from installing alternative versions of the operating system on mobile devices, known as “Android forks”.
And, finally, for subjecting a part of Google’s advertising revenue to manufacturers and mobile network operators to the fact that they did not install any other search engine alternative to Google Search.
The penalty fee remains the largest in EU historydespite Google’s arguments that the Commission’s case was baseless and falsely based on allegations that it forced its Chrome search engine and browser onto Android phones.
The penalty is one of three antitrust sanctions totaling more than $8 billion that the European Commission imposed on Google between 2017 and 2019.
In its appeal, the company also insisted that the EU was blind to the case of Apple, which imposes or gives clear preference to its own services, such as the Safari browser on iPhones.
Google argued that downloading rival apps was just a click away and that customers were not tied in any way to Google’s Android products.
The EU and the whistleblowers countered that Google used contracts with phone makers in the early days of Android to crush its rivals.
Google expressed its disappointment with the ruling. “We are disappointed that the Court has not overturned the decision in its entirety,” the company said in a statement.
The decision of the General Court is not necessarily the end of the story. Both parties can go to the EU’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, to have the final say on the fine.
The Android case was the third of three major cases brought against Google by the team of the European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager.
(with information from AFP, EFE and AP)