Tuesday, 17 July 2018 09:12

Google EU fine over Android likely this week

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Search giant Google is set to face a record-breaking fine from the European Union this week over alleged anti-competitive practices concerning its Android mobile operating system.

But Reuters reported that any of its rivals who were hoping that the EU's move, to get Google to halt unfair business practices, would help them could end up unhappy.

The fine was expected to be announced last week but the announcement was put off, reportedly due to the visit to Europe by US President Donald Trump.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, normally makes such announcements on a Wednesday.

But any fine is unlikely to help Google's rivals as the American multinational company is already the main revenue source for many apps. More than 90% of Android apps downloaded in Europe come from Google's Play Store.

EU regulators say that Google has forced smartphone manufacturers to install its search plus the Play Store and Chrome browser and asks other manufacturers to agree not to sign deals with its Android rivals.

Analyst Richard Windsor, of the research firm Radio Free Mobile, told Reuters that any EU action was likely to be too late.

“Users in the EU are now completely accustomed to using Google services and have come to prefer them,” he said.

“Hence, I think separating Google Play from the rest of Google’s Digital Life services would have very little impact as users would simply download and install them from the store."

No matter when it is announced, the fine would be the second levied by the EU on Google. In June last year, Google was fined €2.42 billion (US$2.7 billion) for allegedly abusing its search engine dominance to give illegal advantage to its own comparison shopping service. The company has appealed the decision.

A third fine is said to be in the EU pipeline, this for alleged anti-business practices involving Google's AdSense advertising system.

The EU has also floated the idea of breaking up Google into a number of smaller units, with EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager saying the political bloc harbours "grave suspicions" about the firm's dominance of the search market.

Brussels is not the only one to fine Google for anti-business practices. In February, the Competition Commission of India hit the company with a fine of 135.86 crore rupees (about US$21.1 million) for "abusing its dominant position in online general Web search and Web search advertising services in India".

Google and other big multinational technology companies are also under pressure over alleged tax evasion, with the EC having unveiled a proposal to tax these companies at a rate of 3% as an interim measure.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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