Seeking to overturn $4.8 billion EU fine, Google gains support from unlikely allies

Seeking to overturn $4.8 billion EU fine, Google gains support from unlikely allies
In July of 2018, the European Union (EU) fined Google a record 4.34 billion Euros (currently valued at $4.8 billion USD) for requiring Android manufacturers to pre-install certain Google apps on their devices. For example, Google demanded manufacturers who wanted to license the Google Play Services version of Android include Google Search and Chrome on their phones. Google also paid some of these companies to load just one search engine on their handsets, Google Search (of course). And Google did not approve of manufacturers selling phones running on unapproved versions of Android.

In the EU, this behavior was considered to be anti-competitive (and a violation of antitrust laws) since it forced Android users in Europe to specifically search for third-party browsers and search apps. Earlier this year, to comply with the EU's ruling, Google provided European Android users with a couple of pages that listed third party mobile browsers and search engines that users on the continent could choose from. Besides Google Search, other options included Qwant, Duck Duck Go, Ecosia Browser and Seznam.cz. Third-party browsers listed included Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera Browser and Puffin Web Browser.

Google is appealing the fine in Europe's second-highest court and has surprisingly found a couple of allies among Android phone manufacturers. According to Reuters, Germany's Gigaset and Finland's HMD Global Oy are being allowed to testify in favor of Google. Also appearing in court to support Google is Opera, a company that produces mobile browsers. Meanwhile, the EU has its own list of companies willing to speak out in court against Google. Not surprisingly, among this group, you'll find French search engine Qwant, Czech search engine Seznam and lobbying group FairSearch. It was the latter's complaint against Google that kicked off the EU's investigation of the company.


In the U.S., Google is one of four tech firms (along with Apple, Facebook, and Amazon) being probed by the Justice Department (DOJ) for antitrust violations. Last month, the House of Representatives demanded documents from Google and Apple for its own antitrust investigation. Apple is accused of being anti-competitive because iOS users are not allowed to sideload apps. With Apple taking a 30% cut of in-app revenue and subscriptions (which drops to 15% after the first year), a lawsuit seeking class-action status claims that iOS device owners have to pay more for apps and games because of this so-called "Apple Tax." Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Apple is selling apps to iPhone and iPad users and is not an intermediary as the company claims. As a result, the highest court in the U.S. ruled that the suit could proceed and rejected Apple's attempt to have it thrown out of court.

Google appears to be safe from any type of similar lawsuit related to the Google Play Store. While the company does take a 30% slice of the revenue generated in-app, Android users do have the ability to sideload apps.

With both the DOJ and Congress investigating "Big Tech," there also is a fear that legislation could eventually be passed that would force huge tech firms to break up, much like the Bell System had to in the early 1980s. For example, a case could be made by the DOJ that Google is violating antitrust laws and needs to spinoff Android. That would allow manufacturers to fairly decide whether to pre-install Google's core apps or those from third-party developers. While Android is an open-source platform, as we've already mentioned, a license from Google is required for manufacturers to install the Google Play Services version of the operating system which includes the Google Play Store and core apps like Search, Gmail, Maps and YouTube.

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9 Comments

1. Atrixboyyy

Posts: 607; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

So they're being sued for not listing other options? Can I sue my landlord for not telling me he owned other properties? /s

3. sgodsell

Posts: 7437; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

It's not just side loading apps. Google allows it's app developers to point to their own websites for setup of new accounts for monetization without paying Google. Apple doesn't allow any app on their app store to even mention going to their own website to pay, or even point to your own website for any monetization, period. Otherwise your iOS app will be rejected. Apple's greed is finally going to go against them.

2. Angst

Posts: 37; Member since: Apr 29, 2014

I know I know, I am over-simplifying this but: STOP SELLING OR ALLOWING ANY UK SALES/USAGE OF ANDROID and GOOGLE PRODUCTS and WATCH how the UK comes crawling and Begging on hand & Knees for you to come back. Seriously the UK is bullying the world by passing stupid @$$ laws and fine'ing American Companies because they can. In a lesser Effect the same way California effectually made the whole Kill-switch for Cell phones a reality for all of america because of their local law. (not that I am against 'that' change) Pull every company sale - and tech from them and see if they try to be so tough from that point forward.

4. Subie

Posts: 2388; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

Why are you singling out the UK? This article is about the European Union. And isn't the UK trying to leave the EU?...

7. limporgyuk

Posts: 371; Member since: Nov 06, 2013

Congratulations, you have the most ignorant comment of the month. You have no idea how technology companies work, you have no idea how the EU works and you have no idea how the UK makes its laws, you think android phones don't use any components or patents that come from the UK/EU.

8. limporgyuk

Posts: 371; Member since: Nov 06, 2013

One day you're gonna need privacy laws and you're gonna thank christ that you're government and the EU made massive companies accountable for spying on you. I'm from the UK anyway and can't wait to leave the EU. You picked the wrong country for your ill-informed argument.

9. gazmatic

Posts: 818; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

Article says EU but you blame UK...

5. Venom

Posts: 3709; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

I'm starting to think the EU is overstepping their boundaries. Yes, Google does need to be probed, but I think this fine is excessive and is just a way for the EU to get some much needed money. Here's the thing, if you want to use Android that Google has fine tuned, then just freaking use Google Play Services and stop trying to act like they are forcing you to stick with just Google services. Just remember you are not as protected from threats as you would be if you stuck to just the Play Store.

6. Cyberchum

Posts: 1093; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

The EU, for the most part, is simply extorting.

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