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EU considers yet another record fine for Google, this time over Android's anti-competitive terms

Google I/O Keynote
Google I/O Keynote (Image credit: Android Central)

Google may be facing yet another decision in an antitrust investigation in the EU, according to a new report by Reuters, including a fine that could exceed $2.7 billion. The news comes just a few days after the EU finalized a record-setting $2.7 billion fine over Google's practices involving shopping ads in search. It serves to reason, then, that a fine for something as large as terms of licensing Android would surely be larger than one for a certain part of search results.

The EU is reportedly forming a special panel of experts to further investigate Google's practices around licensing the Android operating system to manufacturers, which it claims is anti-competitive in nature. If this discussion sounds familiar, it's because it actually stems from an investigation into the matter back in April 2016. Discussions about Google abusing its market dominance have been around much longer that that.

The ongoing fight over Android licensing in the EU may finally lead to financial damages.

EU regulators claim that Google's terms for licensing Android, which require a specific set of Google apps to be loaded on the phone and prevent manufacturers from making Android devices without Google's services, are anti-competitive and ultimately hurt companies. Google's argument, naturally, is that those manufacturers are free to make phones using the open-source build of Android and their own services if they choose to do so. In contrast with other antitrust regulations, like those here in the U.S., the EU doesn't necessarily need to show an abuse of monopoly power in order to levy a fine — as it has shown in prior cases.

Reports claim that the European Commission could reach a decision on the matter by the end of the year. Aside from yet another massive fine, it could also potentially force Google to change the terms of licensing Android in order to fall within the EU's demands for competition in the mobile space. Given recent decisions against Google, the possibility of another such decision doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

84 Comments
  • I'm guessing someone with influence in the EU has shares/stock in Apple.
  • Not really, the EU wants a lot more money than this from Apple. More like, any large, successful US company is a prime target for a good, old fashioned shakedown to help fund the EU's socialist vision of utopia.
  • It's called anti-trust something America used to value.
  • Did you see the reaction to NPR tweeting the declaration of independence yesterday without saying that's what it was? Pretty funny... And also a bit scary and depressing.
  • You realize they're very different here in the US compared to the Eu right? The played out tune of the American idiot that some people love to sing isn't an exact fit here. But then again what's someone whose host here to throw barbs to do without that tired narrative?
  • Not exactly. It's only anti trust when you have direct competition
  • Socialist policies in US got us out of Great Depression and after the WW2 created the the most thriving economy in the world. in the 50 and 60s (except for great number of POC) you had a blue collar workers supporting stay home mom's with 2 kids under their own roof , not worried about kid's education, vacation, etc. you know the corporate tax rates at the time ? up to 90%. let's look at the chart - graph of labor productivity vs profits and compare to corporate profits. since when out productivity goes up and income stagnates while Corp profit jump to ever growing incline.
    now we have both parents work those jobs and barely make ends meet, stress over health and school for kids and can only dream of vacation. Corporations hijacked both parties and they won't let it go easy.
  • WWII got is out of the great depression. No company payed the 90 percent tax rate. Back in the sixties no one had cable bills , two car payments, cell phone bills. So yes one person could work and support a family. It could be done nowadays but everyone wants their toys plus trying to keep up with the neighbors. Priorities.
  • Google the average tax rates in the 50s and 60s and some of the top paid. was doubled from Reagan era
    I had the official documents somewhere
    before the war started we had a socialist policy implemented already to get us back on the feet. and yes the WW2 brought the fruits which we distributed proportionately with socialist policies
  • Before deductions. I am not getting what you are trying to say. I guess you like high taxes. Fair enough, I don't.
  • well , depends in what context. :) as of now I'm not sure I want them high. purely because of the way my dollars are spent. right now govt puts my dollars to bomb the poor to benefit a few and uses the spare change to fix the problems at home. from health care to environment control, drugs , etc. with the right priorities where my kids (and neighbours!) are taken care off , no matter what we have for a job , I'm OK paying a half of my income towards a civilized society.
  • Before Reagan companies used to offset the high tax rate by investing profits back into the company and it's employees and used the deduction to lower their tax responsibilities. Now they just buy politicians and hide money offshore.
  • and you can't blame them for it.given the opportunity everybody wants more for himself. the problem is that Corporations created the opportunity and took it. so it was like Corporate Coup in the 70s. there are successful companies which still behave in the old fashion you mentioned. VW is one of them and it operates in very socialistic way. :) German govt policies and dedication in implementing them, kept their economy one of the strongest to this day. The problem is out of control Wall St. casino so everybody in the world gets affected this way or another. All economies are interconnected and you can't simply escape failures of the others. that's why we need the Awakening - conscious revolution across the globe :)
  • Thank Wilson for that
  • Not that simple nor correct. Everyone getting free college until around the 60's/70's and a minimum wage that was valued at $18 in today's money and productivity is what got America out of the great depression and created the thriving middle class. Massive government investments in infrastructure, science, education, etc led to millions of jobs being created. And a combination of the above and a business world that was kept in its boundaries is what allowed Americans to buy homes and cars while raising a family on just 1 persons salary. That ended the great depression and make America prosperous for everyone. Then Reagan showed up...
  • You mean Carter .
  • He means Reagan.
  • I'll say that it's a bit of an oversimplification, in that age we poured millions into public works. People had jobs because we were growing our infrastructure. Why? Because we had to beat the Russians. That was the excuse at least, but the result was good. People's dollar went farther, and the minimum wage at that time was actually, when adjusted for inflation, 4 dollars more than it is now. WWII certainly had its affect, but let's not mistake it for the prosperity of the amount of public works we did in the 50's and 60's.
  • And what exactly was WWII in an economic sense if not for a GIANT "Government Works" program?
  • A war.
  • ^^THIS^^
  • My reply was actually meant for Eric Johnson3 and my point is that all these neocons who want to believe that any government intervention in the market is a bad idea and they like to say that world war 2 is the only reason the we got out of the Great Depression are dead wrong. Because world war 2 was essentially a government works program.
  • I see what you mean now and totally agree. Sorry.
  • Look at the effective tax rate and not the "maximum". Those socialist policies extended the depression. If a company pays more taxes where do you get a pay raise from. My " free" health care costs my employer $9000 more a year and my family has a deductible that is $6500 more a year. Oh I'm not even close to wealthy. Outpatient surgery costs is more now than a month long meningitis treatment seven years ago. Why don't you pay more in taxes, there is a form that the IRS has so you can donate to the government
  • They like spending other people's money.
  • call it whatever. show me where the money went. back to the labor. without labor your ideas are worth less than dog $hit. you make extra you give back and invest more. that's how it works. otherwise you end up living in a third world country where the violence becomes new normal. please don't talk about Hospital and Pharma mafia in US and use some kind of the negative impact on their actions by govt policies. between them and Health Insurance industry ppl are f c u ked.
  • if that's Utopian , how do we call the idea of Self correcting truly free market driven by man's greed and corruption?
  • Nope. You're thinking of crony capitalism. Not even close to true free market capitalism
  • what we have now is Crony Capitalism and I referred to Utopian idea of "truly free market" where somehow it would magically work out by itself - you know Koch Brothers and alike giving up Monopolies because "market pressure". all of that would lead to autocratic Fascism.
    I respect the genuine idea of Libertarians just like I do the Communists. it's all good eventually leads to hell. idk at least we the people deserve that conversation in public and without money getting in between. we have to change - evolution and nature demands :)
    I'm kinda hopeful but pessimistic at the same time.
  • Yup. Pretty much no chance the EU would be investigating this if Alphabet was founded in France and listed on the Euronext.
  • keep hitting them until they learn.
    usually most of the high revenue corps go with "as long as the fine is less than our profits, 4get the regulations." not saying it will push them all the way, but will make Google think harder in the future.
  • Let the games begin!
  • Yet another EU money grab.
  • This is so absurd. 98.44% of users would simply install the Google Apps as soon as they turned on their phone for the first time.
  • I guess I'm in that 1. %, then.
    Google Play Music is the worst music player I ever used.
    Motorola Gallery was way better than Google Photos.
    Couldn't care less for Google +.
    Hangouts is by far the worst chat app. yrs later and still at the bottom.
    list goes on.
    to me except for a few core apps, it's just bloatware on my phone.
    still, you are right , most of the people would choose Google apps, because they expect them to work the best and they can "trust" them. everything on the phone should be optional to install and eventually that would change the perception. let them all compete for customers. Google knows that it will affect the revenue, so they prefer no competition. it just started , EU will hit them harder if they don't change the course.
  • If that's what you want, then these other entities need to build their own OS.
  • so, you suggest that food growers should open up their own Grocery stores in order to get to the customers and sell their products. maybe suggest them to build some roads for transportation as well.
    let's see, who will have to change - them or Google.
  • If you don't like what it comes with then get off the OS and get out of the Playstore. You're being given something that is not free to build or maintain, if you don't like what it comes with, then move on. In your analogy, Google owns the road, because they built the damn thing, out of their own pocket. Socialist and their completely unfounded sense of entitlement never cease to amaze me. "You built it, now give it to me for free, because I'm special".
  • no I didn't suggests that Google own the roads. it's far from it. i asked in a way if that's how far one wants a producer to go in order to sell his goods at the market.
    and the actual play store is the issue , but if you don't see that , no point continuing.
  • How's this even the same thing? Google built Android and you do have another option.
  • +1
    Google bloatwate on android is truely becoming a nuisance these days. Couple years back you atleast had the option to uninstall them. Now, you need to root to fully get rid of those.
    Besides, google play services is the biggest battery drainer in the phone.
  • Hey , couple other choices out there.
  • At lest Google is still allowing the option to root, they don't have to ya know!
  • Every product does this. Do I use every feature my car has? Or want it? No, but I have to buy a 'package' in order to get certain features I do want. My credit card offers a lot of stuff I don't want or use either. My insurance companies force me to buy coverage I don't want or need. Every product does this in some form or another.
  • bad analogy. you couldn't be further from what's going on with Google and it's anti-competitive behaviour.
  • Google has said it time and time again people are free to do what they want. This is far from anti competitive. It would be if you were forced to keep their apps or even use them. This is a far cry from carrier behavior that forces you to have apps on your carrier branded phone and don't even let you uninstall them. Or isp offering only one media provider to partner with etc.
  • Google said it so many times, yet failed to convince those whose job is to determine legality of their actions.
    Repeating talking points on TV works great , because ppl confuse familiarity with truth - that's how you convince them to vote against their own interest over and over again
    This place is no TV and audience is actually well educated on the matters discussed. So, Google better change the behavior, since talking points ain't convincing anyone over there. Good that you mentioned carriers. i.e Verizon. They literally own too many ppl and institutions here to be challenged and questioned for anything. Their move from service to retailer to selling and favoring their own products in sales is beyond...
    we are kinda already living that satirical comedy "Idiocracy" but not as brutal yet.
  • The only ones so far that aren't "convinced" are the EU themselves... and yet you look at Google as the issue and not the true outlier in this scenario? Also I don' think you fully understood the irony behind Idiocracy if you think it had to do with shady actions of this economic/political entity. Perhaps if the topic was climate change deniers or anti-vaxxers I'd agree. All in all, I don't think has anything to do with the EU being benovolent and looking to empower the consumer. To me it's pretty clear, kill Google in their domain so than can artificially prop up solutions and businesses that are actually from the countries that the EU represents, which will naturally occur due to the vacuum. This isn't about a fair market or monopolies, this is about removing the kid from the class that's ruining the curve so others can suddenly "have a chance". It's about creating a false sense of competition by simply punishing the one that's doing best.
  • I get what you are saying , but I don't see this issue as them being better and others jealous over it. And Google is a multi national Corporation, so American part shouldn't be that big of an issue in playing favourites. unless their ties with State Department are security issue with EU nations - may very well be reasonable, then.
    as far as Idiocracy goes , I meant in terms of where 1 Big Corp owns everything to a point where it has a full Control over the ppl - dummying them down. Brawndo tap water , watering plants with it... Costco with its own school, etc. too big to fail just got bigger :)
    and I see Google with a great potential for that dark mode - to own as much as possible where all of our lives depend on it. they are buying out everyone and every where.
    they still have a potential for great good , so let's wait and see.
    If they are genuine about their work and service, why not make their own product with the closed app system and sell it as it is. ppl agree to terms of use (having their data sold) and everybody happy. once you open up a store and demand certain things it gets complicated. and playing favourites in that space shows your intentions. I see where some can take advantage,but in general they better be stopped sooner than later.
    Again, Google is flirting with "devil" and has a little time to get it's ass out of the convo. they can still do great things :)
  • Well educated? And you voted for big brother???
  • Agree with some you say. Play Music is garabge, Likewise google+.
    That said, I really don't see a substantive argument to be made for abuse of monopoly when Google offers the base OS for free,
  • Ask Microsoft how they see this? If not for the EU Google might not even be a thing today. So seems only fitting Google is being made to be competitive and not a monopoly.
  • 2 billion here , 4 billion there, pretty soon we are talking about real money.
  • Time for Google to become a walled garden, to hell with these people looking for multiple, massive welfare checks.
  • This is how Google should handle the EU. Pay the fine.
    Make changes to the licensing agreement that allow use of Google Services for pay while being able to sell whatever device\software configurations they choose. And when they start crying about having to pay for Google Services, point to Microsoft, then point out how Apple doesn't even offer the licensing of their OS.
  • I love all of the Americans in the comments who don't understand anti-trust lawsuits.
  • How about you explain it to me?
  • why don't you GOOGLE it yourself ? :)
  • You don't even need to leave the article to get a brief sentence that highlights the fact that anti trust in the US is different than the EU.
  • Which word is different. "Anti" or "trust"
  • Just look up Pre-Reagan America to get an understanding. America use to be just as amazing as the European Union when it came to being pro-consumer, anti-monopoly and pro-free market competition (which can only be achieved with government oversight keeping corporations in check), and is partly what the EU modeled itself from. Then Reagan got elected and ruined everything to pay back his Wall Street backers with deregulation, massive tax cuts for the top 1% and their corporations with voodoo trickle down economics, anti union policies and allowing corporate mergers and monopolies. Modern historians and economists point to Reagan being our worst president in modern times due to all the problems he created that we suffer for today. Too big to fail businesses, slow and expensive airlines, record economic injustice and inequality, worker pay disparity, failed drug war and corporate prisons, opening the flood gates of money in politics, and more, all started becoming a thing under his administration and has only gotten worse as they consolidated their power, bought out more companies, and bribes officials to rig the economy against everyone else and start up businesses. Though to be fair to Reagan, the preceding presidents and especially the democrats, had plenty of opportunity to correct his mistakes and go back to the times of the original progressives and the democratic "socialist" policies of Republican Teddy Roosevelt, Democrat FDR, or Republican Eisenhower, but they were more than happy enough to look the other way and accept corporate "donations".
  • Nice talking points. First time I have heard them.
  • Exactly.
    Thomas Frank wrote 2 books about the hijacking of the both parties.
    for GOP "What happened with Kansas" and for DNC "Listen liberal". it's straight from the official public record books - not from some conspiratorial theories.
    he made a lot of interviews about them. though , ever since he released "Listen liberal" MSM didn't show interest to invite him back :))
  • While I agree, there's clearly something more here going on than the eu looking out for the little man or trying to preserve fair competition.
  • The issue I have here is that the EU is a non-governmental organization. I regard it the same as the companies behind municipal red light tickets here in the US. What stops AC readers from incorporating and fining Google?
  • The difference between the EU and what you want to compare them to, is the EU is a legitimate government body which has political power and legal backing from their member states and citizens that decides the economic policies of the continent, while also having a (now 2 week old) unified European Army under their command. ;)
  • 1. Red Light companies are fully backed by the muncipilaties that deploy them. So it's not as if these corporations are just throwing them up at intersections and then fining citizens. That's exactly the same quasi-governmental relationship that the member states if the EU share with the entity.
    Secondly, you are overstating the accords of a couple weeks ago. All it did was allow to those aforementioned member states to cooperate jointly without the need for all members. Germany and Ireland cooperating together militarily is hardly a unified EU army
  • The citizens THINK they have a say.
  • The EU is not a non-governmental organization! It's a supranational union of states. In some areas, the EU shares the capacity to legislate with its members states, whereas in other areas, EU's member states have delegated any capacity to legislate to the EU. In any case of inconsistency between EU legislation and the laws of a member state, EU legislation takes precedence.
  • Well that sucks
  • Oh no! All the downvotes from the socialist eurotrash, how will I ever cope? I need a safe space. /S LMFAO.
  • Would say you could cope by seeing a psychiatrist for free... but you know American healthcare would make you pay thousands under Obamacare... and Trumpcare would make you pay even more if it somehow managed to pass... soooo :)
  • You do know most Americans have no need for those two trainwrecks, right? Most are covered by employer, but that is for a different day.
  • Actually one of the things under attack by the Trump administration is indeed the employer insurance you speak of. I'm livid about it. I have a good thing going for my family with my employer's care, and can't afford to lose it. In a nutshell under ACA and current laws businesses that offered health care couldn't offer anything less than the state's essential benefits. "essential" or "standard" benefits — things considered basic, like hospitalization, newborn care and prescription drugs — are capped. On top of that, under Obamacare, large businesses are prohibited from capping how much they will shell out for employees' essential benefit expenses, annually and throughout their lifetimes. States each have their own definitions of what qualifies as an "essential" benefit. Larger companies up to this point, unlike smaller companies that must stick with their own state's standards for essential care, have been able to use any state's definition of essential benefits, no matter the business' location. Until now, such insurance shopping hasn't mattered much, since states' definitions of essential benefits vary little. But the Trump AHCA allows states to apply to the federal government for waivers to alter or eliminate entirely their definitions of essential benefits. States must prove to the federal government that such a waiver would reduce average premiums, increase enrollment, stabilize the health insurance coverage market or increase the choice of health plans in the state. Given the Trump administration's inclination to give states' leniency in executing policy, it would probably also be inclined to grant states waivers.
  • Obama attacked it. Trump isn't attacking it
  • No the ACA bolstered it. The Trump version is attacking it.
  • Sorry about your luck thunder. Employer provided health insurance for myself and my family from this alien concept known as "WORK", you know, having a damn job, instead of a handout. Nice try, though.
  • You know that's under attack with the current health care changes and Trump administration right? No one's saying they need a hand out here and the idiocy you're peddling to people who want access to basic essentials of life as a human right is just downright dickish.
  • Would love to see a change in direction with Google requiring their apps to be preloaded. Very happy to download the ones that make sense for me such as photos, maps and the Google app. Gmail hangouts and the like are pure bloatware for me.
  • Well then build your own OS and you can make only those apps preinstalled. 
  • I think the US government, by way of the EPA, should just tack on the amount of any fines (Google is charged by the EU) to VW's diesel settlement. Then the EPA can route that money back to Google under the pretense that it is for fuel efficiency research in connection with self driving cars.
    That would at least teach the EU to stop trying to grab US money at every turn.
  • Using Google to help balance your budget. Why hasn't the US thought of that?
  • Brexit's killing them I guess
  • If I do a search on Google and all first-page results promote Google Books, and if it takes my 30 min to disable the Google app and replace other Google apps with others hopefully not spying on me to "enhance my ad experience", is that a good thing or is that a bad thing?