The European Commission has fined Google €4.34 billion for breaching EU competition rules in relation to its Android mobile devices.
In a landmark case the Commission has accused Google of imposing illegal restrictions on makers of Android devices and mobile network operators in order to cement its dominant global position in internet search engines.
The company has 90 days to end the practice or face payments up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
Today more than half the world’s internet searches are done on smartphones or tablets.
The European Commission is accusing Google of imposing restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile phones so that most of that traffic goes to the Google search engine.
This is done by requiring makers of Android devices to pre-install both the Google Search and Chrome browser apps as a condition for licencing Google’s app store known as the Play Store.
The Commission also accuses the company of paying some phone makers and mobile networks significant sums of money on the condition that they exclusively pre-install such apps.
Manufacturers are also prevented from building any devices which run on alternative versions of Android that are not approved by Google.
The Commission argues that while Google does publish the source code online every time a new version of Android appears, this access only relates to the basic features of a smartphone operating system, but not the apps and services.
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