×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Google Fined a Record $5 Billion by European Antitrust Officials

The European Commission has fined Google a record $5 billion (€4.34 billion) for breaching EU antitrust rules, a decision the internet search giant immediately said it would appeal.

The fine stems from Google practices that the commission said were used “to cement its dominant position in general internet search,” according to a commission statement. The statement said Google required handset manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and its Chrome browser, limiting rival search engines, and also “made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices.”

The statement added that Google “prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android.”

Google denied engaging in anti-competitive practices. “Android has created more choice for everyone, not less,” said Google spokesman Al Verney. “A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition. We will appeal the commission’s decision.”

The commission accused Google of plotting for years to maintain its stranglehold on the internet-search market. “Google obtains the vast majority of its revenues via its flagship product, the Google search engine,” Wednesday’s statement said. “The company understood early on that the shift from desktop PCs to mobile internet, which started in the mid-2000s, would be a fundamental change for Google Search. So, Google developed a strategy to anticipate the effects of this shift, and to make sure that users would continue to use Google Search also on their mobile devices.”

About 80% of smart mobile devices in Europe and worldwide run on Android, whose original developer Google bought in 2005, the commission said. Google must now bring its practices “effectively to an end within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.”

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, acknowledged during a news conference in Brussels that Google’s version of Android does not prevent device owners from downloading alternative web browsers or using other search engines. But she said only 1% of users downloaded a competing search app and 10% a different browser.

Google’s practices “have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits,” Vestager said in the statement issued by the European Commission. “They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.”

This is not the first time European authorities have slapped the internet-search giant with a massive antitrust fine. In June 2017, the European Commission said Google had to pay a €2.42 billion fine for favoring its shopping service in searches, in breach of antitrust rules. Google has appealed that fine as well, and a final ruling is still pending.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Jonah Hill attends the press conference

    Instagram Debuts Jonah Hill’s ‘Un-filtered’ Bullying Docu-Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Facebook’s Instagram, as part of its anti-bullying initiatives, funded a new series directed by Jonah Hill featuring teens and young adults talking about their experiences with bullying. The four-episode “Un-filtered” goes live Wednesday (Sept. 18) on Instagram’s IGTV channel on its mobile app. In the unscripted series, Hill interviews people aged 13-25 who share their [...]

  • Plex

    Plex Signs Up Lionsgate for Upcoming Ad-Supported Video Service

    Media center app maker Plex has struck a deal with Lionsgate to add some of the studio’s movies and TV shows to its upcoming ad-supported video service. The news comes just weeks after Plex announced a similar deal with Warner Bros. “Lionsgate is one of the biggest names in the business and we know our [...]

  • Comcast Xfinity Flex

    Comcast Drops $5 Monthly Fee for Xfinity Flex Video-Streaming Set-Top for Broadband Customers

    Comcast will hand out one free set-top box for broadband subscribers to access Xfinity Flex, its video-streaming product for internet-only customers, as it looks to punch up the value of its high-speed internet business. Brian Roberts, Comcast’s chairman and CEO, announced the new strategy at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia conference Wednesday in New York. “One of [...]

  • Facebook Portal TV

    Facebook Announces $149 Portal TV Device, 2 New Portal Smart Displays

    Facebook wants you to put a camera into your living room: The company officially unveiled its Portal TV device Wednesday that brings video chatting, augmented reality (AR) and Facebook Watch to any TV set. In addition, the company also unveiled two new Portal smart display devices that are aggressively priced to grow the company’s home [...]

  • Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, South

    Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series to Shoot in New Zealand

    Amazon Studios has set New Zealand as the location for its upcoming series production of “The Lord of the Rings,” following in the footsteps of the movies made by Peter Jackson. Pre-production on the series has started, and production on the series will begin in Auckland in the coming months. “We knew we needed to [...]

  • Google Assistant example

    How Google Found Its Voice

    A few years back, Google was actively exploring whether it should launch a male counterpart to Amazon’s female Alexa voice assistant. “When we first launched the Google Assistant, we intended to use a male voice, just to be different,” Google Assistant product manager Brant Ward recently recalled. However, at the time, text-to-speech technology was still [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content