European Commission fines Google $5.1 billion for Android anti-trust issues

The European Union is to hit Google with a record-breaking fine of 4.3 billion Euros ($5.1 billion) over anti-trust issues linked to Google’s handling of the Android ecosystem.

The expected fine is the largest ever, exceeding the previous record of 2.4 billion Euros leveraged against Google last year for its online shopping service. But even with that being the case, it’s expected that the fine will only amount to two weeks of revenue for the search engine giant, making it barely more than a slap on the wrist.

However — and far more importantly for Google — the EU has also given Google 90 days to quit the actions the EU has deemed as illegal, or it will face further fines from the European Commission.

Why is the EU fining Google?

We’ve covered this question in great detail over the months it’s taken for this story to develop, but in brief, questions are being raised of the requirements that Google holds third-parties to when licensing out the Google Play Store and Google’s other popular apps. In essence, Google’s current methods require Chrome and Google’s own search app to be pre-installed to a phone that wants access to the Google Play Store.

Brussels is accusing Google of using their position of power in the market to unfairly keep its own search engine in a position of power, as well as offering a cut of search profits to manufacturers who exclusively install Google’s search engine on their phones. Under EU rules, this sort of action is illegal.

While it’s not required to cede to Google’s requests to utilize the Android operating system — Amazon’s Fire tablets run a “forked” version of Android that does not have access to the Play Store by default — it’s heavily expected of that most Android devices will have access to the Play Store. With Google search commanding around 95 percent of the search engine market, and Android devices making up 80 percent of the smartphone market, it’s easy to see how Google could be accused of unfair practices in when using one to maintain a hegemony over another.

With Google having been fined twice over anti-trust issues — and with the EU also looking at Google’s AdSense as also being problematic — expect to see some serious changes being made to law in response to what lawmakers are seeing as some imbalances in technology markets.

This story is developing.

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