Google Could Face Even Bigger Fine In EU Android Antitrust Case

Google just cannot seem to catch a break from European regulators. Fresh off being hit with a record-setting €2.42 billion fine (around $2.7 billion in U.S. currency) for favoring its own shopping search engine in search results over third-party comparison shopping tools, antitrust regulators in the European Union are now considering slapping Google with a subsequent penalty over its Android mobile operating system.

Back in April of last year, the European Commission determined that Google was using its dominant Android platform to gain an unfair competitive edge against rivals. An initial team of investigators looked into things after receiving a joint complaint filed by lobby group FairSearch, ad-blocking service Disconnect, Portuguese apps store Aptoide, and Russia's Yandex. The investigators took issue with Google requiring smartphone makers to pre-install Google Search and Google Chrome if they wanted access to other Google apps, and disallowing manufacturers from using rival versions of Android.


"If Google was forced to unbundle Google Play from its other Digital Life services, handset makers and operators would be free to set whatever they like by default potentially triggering a decline in the usage of Google's services," Richard Windsor, an independent financial analyst, told Reuters.

The potential fine is expected to be even higher than the record-setting one that Google was just recently hit with. That is assuming a panel of experts tasked with giving a second opinion on the initial investigation agree with the original findings. The fine would presumably take into consideration how long Google has allegedly been abusing its power—EU's original charge sheet issued last year states that Google's been involved in anti-competitive practices since January 2011.

"A decision would come none too soon. Google is hurting Android users, including by surreptitiously commandeering ever-increasing amounts of personal data," FairSearch lawyer Thomas Vinje said.

Google also stands accused of essentially bribing smartphone makers and wireless carries to only install Google Search on smartphones.