Another day, another Google fine. This time though, it's the biggest fine it has faced yet. Way back in 2018, the European Commission (EC) handed it a €4.34 billion - same amount in USD now - for violating its antitrust laws by putting unfair restrictions on Android device manufacturers and network operators. Google appealed this massive fine but today, it has lost this appeal in an EU court.
The EU General Court has mostly upheld the EC's decision that Google did indeed abuse its market position. There is a small victory for Google in this result though, but it's hardly something worth celebrating. Basically, the court has reduced the fine from €4.34 billion to €4.1 billion, citing irregularities in the regulator's analysis and agreeing that Google's rights to a fair hearing had been partly infringed. A statement from the EU General Court notes that:
The General Court largely confirms the commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile devices and mobile network operators in order to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine.
The whopping fine was imposed on Google for multiple reasons. The first was forcing OEMs to pre-install Google Chrome and Google Search on Android phones in order to get a license to the Play Store. The second deals with Google allegedly paying manufacturers and network operators huge sums of money to pre-install Google Search on their devices. That said, the court deemed the evidence for this claim insufficient which is why the fine was reduced. Finally, the EC was successfully able to prove that Google illegally obstructed OEMs when it came to the development and distribution of competing Android operating systems.
Google has expressed disappointment at the ruling, saying that:
We are disappointed that the court did not annul the decision in full. Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world.
Google still has the right to appeal the decision to a higher court, namely EU's Court of Justice. However, it remains to be seen if it will go down this path considering that the case has already stretched for over four years with little success for Google. This is not the first time it has been handed a fine in the order of billions of euros either, it was fined €2.42 billion in 2017 too.