Reuters: EC might fine Google and force it to be more competitive to phone manufacturers

Reuters: EC might fine Google and force it to be more competitive to phone manufacturers
News agency Reuters says that it has seen the draft of a document that shows what kind of penalties the European Commission will place on Google. The Alphabet subsidiary was accused of using Android's dominating position among smartphone platforms in the continent, to force phone manufacturers into pre-installing the Google Play Store on new phones.

Reuters says that the 150-page document reveals that the EC wants to tell Google to stop making payments or offer discounts to handset manufactures as an incentive for them to install the Google Play Store with Google Search. Google also "cannot punish or threaten" manufacturers who do not give in to the company's demands. The regulators also want to prevent Google from forcing manufacturers to install its proprietary apps (like Google Maps) if doing so prevents these handset makers from using competing operating systems based on Android.

These demands that Reuters says will be made by the EC are akin to demanding that Google unbundle the Google Play Store from Android. This would allow manufacturers to pre-install Bing Search, Outlook and Here Maps instead of Google Search, Gmail and Google Maps, and still include the Google Play Store on their handsets.

The fine is expected to be a large one since Google has been anti-competitive since January 2011, and remains so according to Reuters' reading of the document. The penalty could be determined by the amount of revenue generated by European AdWords clicks, Google Search product queries, app purchases and in-app advertising. The EU says that the amount of the fine "will be sufficient to ensure deterrence," according to the document.


The EC is currently seeking feedback on the document from those companies that have been complaining to the agency about Google's anti-competitive behavior. In addition, Google could face a second charge for favoring the Google Play Store over the application stores offered by rivals.

source: Reuters

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55 Comments

1. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Hmm... I don't see how they can enforce this kind of regulation on Google. Android is a Google owned product. If they want to give it away to OEMs with a few criteria that they must abide by then no one is in a position to argue with them.

2. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

They can because they don't understand how this all works. They made a similar case against windows and IE but the problem with that was that IE was necessary for windows updates back then. It would only happen through IE (vista and XP being the main culprits). So MS had to decouple windows update from IE in windows 7. They are now making a similar case against Google but don't understand that NONE of google's products are necessary for Android to function. The thing is, MS, Apple and a bunch of other trolls started this litigation and now the EU is taking it forward. The same will not be done to iOS which is far worse in this same crime since you cannot even remove any of their software, change it from default, or have the system function without them.

4. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Blah, I remember when Microsoft disabled Google as a search engine option on several model phones a year or two back. I personally think that the Play store should be one of the only apps preinstalled on an Android phone. Maps, SMS messengers, Email... it should all be left up to the user to pick and choose what to install.

13. sgodsell

Posts: 7204; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Is everyone forgetting that Microsoft already had all their software and services on Nokia X devices. It was an Android smartphone with Microsoft's apps and services, and it didn't have any of Google's apps or services. Also there was no play store. The devices didn't fly at all because people soon realized that they were not a regular Android device. Plus with no play store, they were doomed. What kills me is there are a number of Android versions already, like Remix OS, Amazon's version of Android, Oxygen OS, Cyanogen, and a number of others already. You want the play store and Google's apps, then you have to conform to Google's restrictions. Microsoft does this with their apps and services. Microsoft doesn't do that with their browser because it's still locked into using their OS's and only their OS's, because Windows itself is locked down and restricted. The EC or EU doesn't have a leg to stand on in this.

20. vincelongman

Posts: 5677; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Also MS had over 90% of the PC market share Depending on the source, Android has about 70% of the phone market share in Europe Google do not a have a monploy like MS had

21. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

This suit isn't really about Android. From what I gather, it's more a Google Search suit if anything....but even so, Google's gonna get swindled hardcore.

22. vincelongman

Posts: 5677; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

23. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

No, it's Android. What is happening is that for an OEM to have access to the Playstore, they must adhere to certain guidelines about how much they can change the OS. OEMs want the ability to go the route Amazon or OnePlus did but still have access to the Playstore. The only problems I see with that is that while everything should work just fine in theory since it all Android, depending on how much they change the OS some apps may not play well with the forked OS. By having guidelines as to how much they can change, there is a slimmer chance that apps in the Playstore will run into compatibility issues with the OSs used by the OEMs. Let them do whatever they want and change them too much and that might not be the case anymore. There are already apps that are specific to certain versions of Android already (like they only work with Touchwiz or Sense or Google's stock setup). Besides that, if people thought Android was fragmented now, just wait until there are new forked versions changed even more than they are now. From an update standpoint, this looks to be a major CF. I'm not saying they absolutely aren't using their position to keep things the way they want, but sometimes there needs to be guidelines for things to operate correctly. It's not much different than having the laws our governments have. What if they just let people do whatever they wanted, with nothing to reign people in? It'd be like Trump times a million.

32. arenanew

Posts: 286; Member since: Dec 30, 2013

ban google its dangerous for all

3. lyndon420

Posts: 6734; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

If you want ms services get yourself a WP. These suits don't make sense. If people wanted those apps they'd be buying devices that support them.

5. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

I'm sorry, but Google is not a charity. They're a software company, and they have been developing and fine tuning their mobile OS for nearly a decade now. The EU expects them to give it away to any and every OEM and not permit Google to apply their services so they can actually benefit from their hard work? Seriously, they're simply looking for money now that they lost Britain. EU, the world's new biggest troll.

18. Subie

Posts: 2353; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

Right on Scott. This is just a potential money grab by the governments with no real benefit to the citizens. Google gives their operating system away for free and it's the consumers that made it dominant. Now why should they be punished for that? BB has Blackberry World, Apple has the App Store, and Google/Android has the Play store. None of these fines make any sense to me unless it's about money. Opening up Android for OEM's to do as they will would only hurt the brand, create more fragmentation and do nothing to offer a true benefit to the consumer.

19. lyndon420

Posts: 6734; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

And really...who appointed the EU to be an authority over us anyway?!! If OEM's are having a tough time selling Android handsets without the Google Play Store, maybe it's because the average consumer prefers to have apps at their disposal.

33. arenanew

Posts: 286; Member since: Dec 30, 2013

google is fraud this is big relief for india and other country / keep ur s**t aaway google

6. joevsyou

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

i really don't get these types of fines... No one one forcing anyone to use android and build their own OS. Companies just go for android because it's already established it's userbase and saves them money from building their own

7. Fona13A unregistered

EC fines (if not just blankly threatens) all the big companies, easy targets regardless of their practices, in good will or ill.

8. Martineverest

Posts: 521; Member since: Oct 27, 2015

It happened to Microsoft, google won't be left out

15. sgodsell

Posts: 7204; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

There was a huge difference with Microsoft here. Microsoft had over 92% of the world market in OS's. Plus Netscape and a few others charged for their browsers. Then Microsoft made IE, and then gave it free. People could download it IE for free. Then Microsoft embedded IE into their OS. Just like they did will all their OS versions. Microsoft was not playing a fair game at all. And what kills me is anyone can already take and use Android today and do what ever they want with it. Even Nokia and Microsoft made a few devices with Android already, and with only Microsoft apps and services, including Here maps. Those devices failed because people thought it was going to be a regular Android device with Google's apps and services. Yet there was none of Google's apps and services. No Google's maps or Chrome browser. So Amazon doesn't pay anything to Google and they have their fire OS which is Android. OnePlus has a forked version of Android, yet they wanted Google's play store. The is true for Cyanogen, Remix OS, and a number of other Android versions. This is just a witch hunt spear headed by Microsoft and Apple. Plus the EU needs more money, so they are always looking for ways to pluck more money from anyone and everyone.

9. An.Awesome.Guy

Posts: 636; Member since: Jan 12, 2015

So ,does this mean they may also try to stop MS from putting their apps (bloatware) inside smartphone handsets in exchange of patents ?

12. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

3% or less of mobile market hardly makes a monopoly. These lawsuits are based on abuse of dominant position in one market to further promote there services in other markets. Happened to Microsoft for IE and WMP, happened to Google for Chrome and Google Search. I honestly support this decision. If LG, Sony or Samsung think their phones would work better with their own calendar, clock, browser, email app, etc. Google shouldn't be forcing them to install Google's inferior app also.

16. joeytaylor

Posts: 957; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

Then said companies should build their own OS and not use Android

17. sgodsell

Posts: 7204; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Clearly you don't know your head from your @$$, because LG, Sony, and Samsung have had and still have their own apps. Some even have their own app stores as well as Google's. Also comparing Windows with IE and the browser wars is really dumb on your part. This is something that is totally different. Plus Microsoft already had a device with Nokia called the Nokia X, and it was a device that had everything already what Microsoft wanted. Microsoft's version of Android with none of Google's apps or services, and no Googplay store. The devices didn't fly, because people were expecting at least some of Google's apps and the play store. Also Amazon's Fire OS is a version of Android and they do not pay Google a dime, Cyanogen is another version of Android, just like Remix OS, and a number of others. I can't see them taking on Google for this, especially when others are already using Android OS, and some are not even paying Google. So how can they fine Google. This is really stupid.

28. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

Yes, OEMs can have their own music, gallery, etc. apps but they must also install Google's version of the same app. When I bought G2 I got both AOSP browser and Chrome, LG Music and GP Music, Video player and GP Videos and some more double apps. In each case LG's offering proved to be superior. If I could just uninstall Google apps it would okay but all of them were marked as system apps. Point of this lawsuit is to allow manufacturers access to Play Store regardless of what they do with their version/skin of Android and choice in what apps to preinstall.

31. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

And what if what they do with their forked OS makes certain apps incompatible? Google manages and maintains the Playstore. They have a set of guidelines about how much of a change can be made to the OS. Going beyond that there's the possibility that compatibility issues could arise. Beyond that, Google makes their money off of ads. They're offering this for free, but want to be able to advertise to generate revenue. I said below its similar to a company that offers both a free and paid option for their service. The free service will have some drawbacks like ads or missing some features where the paid service will be ad free and have all the features. These people are essentially saying "We want access to all the features for free". Sorry but anywhere else it doesn't work like that, so I don't see why it should be any different here.

34. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

I'm sorry but removing GApps (some or all) will not break anything or cause compatibility issues. It is likely to lower the possibility of conflict (less apps overall). Google's money model is irrelevant here. They have monopoly in EU mobile market (84 or 86%) and are using that position to block competing services like Firefox, HERE maps, Yahoo search, Dailymotion etc. They became the victim of their own success and if people really prefer Google apps they are couple of clicks away. Just open Google Play and install any Google app you want.

35. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I'm not talking about removing the apps, I'm talking about how much they change the OS. Most apps are made to run under the same guidelines that Google has put out. And for the Playstore to run properly, the Google Play Services app has to be present. Where are you getting that they're blocking other services? I've owned plenty of phones, and the ones made by OEMs that have a skin like Touchwiz or Sense had their own apps on there, many as default over Google's apps. For instance, on Samsung's and HTC's phones, their browser was simply called Internet, and it was the default app. When the Samsung Fascinate launched, it had Bing as the default browser. So no one's stopping them from loading their own apps on these phones or evenaking them the default, all they're asking for is to have them installed. But to say how they get revenue is irrelevant isn't being realistic. Say this goes through and everyone decides to dump all the Google apps in place of their own. What incentive is there for Google to maintain or even advance the software, except for their own devices? You seem to have completely glossed over my last paragraph. This would be no different than Spotify users demanding that they get the features that are present on the paid app for free. Should Spotify do that? They're in the same position as Google is in respect to streaming music, but I don't see anyone asking for that.

36. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

I've removed every Google app from my phone aside from Google Play, Google Play Services and Google Settings (couldn't remove those no matter how hard I tried) and everything worked properly. As for your second paragraph, I didn't say they can't use their own apps, just that they have to put Google's bloatware ALONGSIDE their apps. I've got no experience or interest with music streaming so I really don't know about different Spotify options. Regardless of that, it is not EU commission's job to protect Google profit margins. They are supposed to protect EU consumers and that is what they are doing.

41. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I understand it's possible to do that. My point was, if they want to get rid of all Google apps, including the three you couldn't get rid of, then Playstore access becomes moot because it runs off of Google Play Services. Ok, so please tell me how it's consumers them to have those apps on board? Is it just that it takes up space on the phone? And how much space are those apps actually taking up? Or is it that they don't want Google having access to their device? Because in most cases, if you don't setup or activate those services, they won't be operating. I never said it was the EU's job to protect their profits, it's Google's, which is what they're trying to do here, and the EU is trying to take that away from them. Again, they entered this agreement willingly. Did Google force them to use Android? No, they didnt. They could take Android and make it be whatever they wanted it to be. Or they could create something completely on their own, no one is stopping them from doing either. But what they want is access to the Playstore without having to follow Google's guidelines. Amazon went their own way and are doing ok. They might not be number one going that route, but they could still make a profit. But again, the Playstore is Google's, it won't part of AOSP, and it never was. If it were then I'd agree with this, but it isn't.

42. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

Let me ask you if you needed specific type of app and opened Google Play to find 3 possible choices. One is rated at 4,3 second at 4,4 and third at 4,6. Which would you pick? Currently most users are dealing with 4,3 (Google Maps) because it comes prinstalled on their devices. 4,4 (HERE maps) and 4,6 (Waze) are clearly better but are being penalized for not being made by Google. Another drawback is that installing from Google Play shows you what permissions you are giving to each app. When Google apps get preinstalled you have no idea what permissions they are using. And since they are marked as system apps they are free to run rampant on your system. Case in point is Google Play services being huge battery hog (using more battery then screen) and you can do nothing about it.

43. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

How are they being penalized? Those apps can be preloaded on any Android phone and he made the default. Like I said above, both Samsung and HTC have set their apps as default even though Google's apps were also installed on the device. All Google is asking for is them to be preinstalled as well. You can go into Settings>Apps and select any app you want, preinstalled or not, and see the permissions granted to the apps and even take them away. And I looked on my phones battery usage statistics, Google Play Services is the lowest one in my list.

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