Google to fight record EU fine over anticompetitive behavior
Google is appealing a $5 billion penalty by the European Union imposed on the US technology company for stifling competition through the dominance of its Android operating system.
The company is fighting a 2018 decision from the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, that resulted in the 4.34 billion-euro ($5 billion) fine — the largest ever fine the bloc has imposed for anticompetitive behavior.
It's one of three antitrust penalties totaling more than $8 billion that the commission hit Google with between 2017 and 2019.
The others focused on shopping and search, and the California-based company is appealing all three. While the penalties involved huge sums, critics point out that Google can easily afford them and that the fines haven't done much to widen competition.
Android is the most popular mobile operating system, beating even Apple’s iOS, and is found on four out of five devices in Europe.
In its 2018 decision, the European Commission said Google's practices restrict competition and reduce choices for consumers.
It ruled that Google broke EU rules by requiring smartphone makers to take a bundle of Google apps if they wanted any at all, and prevented them from selling devices with altered versions of Android.
The bundle contains 11 apps, including YouTube, Maps and Gmail, but regulators focused on the three that had the biggest market share: Google Search, Chrome and the company’s Play Store for apps.
At the EU’s General Court in Luxemburg, Google plans to argue at the that free and open source Android has led to lower-priced phones and spurred competition with its chief rival, Apple.
The EU court's decision is not expected until next year.
Officially established 23 years ago on September 4, 1998, Google was co-founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page. In 1997, Brin, a graduate student at Stanford University at the time, was tasked with showing Page around campus. The following year, the pair developed the first prototype of Google together in their dorms.
Sundar Pichai, the current CEO of Google and its parent, Alphabet, succeeded Page in 2015. Google has grown to become one of the most expansive tech companies in the world.
With its market dominance has come increased scrutiny from lawmakers, regulators and its own employees. In July, 36 US states and Washington, D.C. sued Google for allegedly violating antitrust laws with its Play store for Android apps.