BRUSSELS | The EU has imposed Wednesday at Google a record fine of 4.34 billion euros (6.68 billion US $) , this time in the Android antitrust case, a decision that could further deteriorate its relations with the US and against which the firm will appeal.
This financial penalty to punish the US company for abusing the dominant position of its operating system for smartphones, Android, in order to establish the supremacy of its online search service, pulverized the previous record, previously held by Google.
“Google has used illegal practices to cement its dominant position in Internet search,” accused the European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager during a press conference in Brussels.
“The search engine Google is its flagship product. Each year, Google generates over $ 95 billion in revenue from displayed ads and clicked by users of Google Search and a large part of its revenues are due to the rise of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets ” added the Danish Commissioner.
The company had already been condemned by the European Commission on 27 June 2017, to pay a record fine of 2.42 billion euros for abusing its dominant position in online search by promoting its price comparison “Google Shopping “at the expense of competing services.
The amount of the fine is decided at the last minute and can reach theoretically, according to the rules of European competition, up to 10% of the overall turnover of the company amounted to alphabet parent Google , to 110.9 billion in 2017 (94.7 billion euros).
The European Commission also ordered the US company “to end its illegal practices within 90 days, on pain of periodic penalty payments of up to 5% of global daily average turnover of Alphabet”.
“Google will appeal the decision of the EU executive”, immediately announced a Google spokesman Al Verney said in a statement.
This new sanction against the US giant arrives in a particularly tense environment between the EU and the United States, with which the friction topics abound as on NATO or trade.
Next Wednesday, a week to the day, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has also come to Washington to try to defuse the trade dispute between the EU the US president Donald Trump, ready to tax imports of European cars in his country.
The Android antitrust case – the operating system for 80% of devices in Europe and the world, which is the equivalent of iOS for the Apple iPhone – is in the sights of the European Commission for several years .
In its statement, the European Commission has detailed its complaints against Google. First the Californian group has required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and browser (Chrome) as a condition for granting the license for its online application store (Play Store).
Second, he paid some large manufacturers and some large operators of mobile networks to preinstall exclusively the Google Search app on their devices.
And third, it prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google applications to sell if only one smart mobile device running on other versions of Android not approved by Google.
In the antitrust case Shopping, Google had proposed remedies in September, still being reviewed by the European Commission.
The California group also filed in September 2017 an appeal against the fine of Brussels before the EU Court of Justice (ECJ), it should not miss either to the Android folder.
Given the complexity of the cases, it would take about two years before a decision of justice.
Besides shopping and Android, the European Commission has a third iron fire against Google: its advertising practices.
She accuses him since July 14, 2016 of abusing its dominant position with its AdSense advertising sales (80% market share in Europe) by artificially limiting the ability of third-party websites displaying contextual advertising from competitors. Again, a fine could emerge.
The first company in Silicon Valley to have received a huge fine in an antitrust case from the European Commission is Microsoft.
In 2004, the US computer group had been a financial penalty of 497 million euros for refusing to provide a complete technical documentation to competitors so that they can develop fully software compatible with the system Windows operating.