The European Commission has laid down a record $5 billion fine against Google for allegedly monopolistic search practices that have essentially forced users to turn to Google for mobile searches on the company’s Android devices.
As the regulatory body’s press release has it, “Since 2011, Google has imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search.”
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager elaborates, “Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits. They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere.”
Specifically, Google has required or paid manufacturers of Android devices to pre-install its search app and Chrome browser, and the search giant has blocked manufacturers from releasing versions of Android other than those it prefers.
What’s the upshot? The Commission wants Google to cease these allegedly monopolistic practices within 90 days. Google will appeal the decision and claims that its devices create more choice for consumers, not less, according to a statement sent from Google to The Verge. Given the appeal, experts estimate the decision’s impact will actually remain unknown for years, as the legal process is drawn out.
While the record fine is representative of emboldened regulation on Europe’s part (most evident in the recent implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation that has tech companies and publishers that collect data on online visitors scrambling to work within new regulatory parameters), the news may not affect Google for years, and even when it does, the company’s dominance in search is so cemented that it’s hard to fathom the emergence of a true competitor anytime soon.