In a shocking new piece of news, EU fines Google for a record $5 Billion. The decision comes after EU’s assessment of Android Antitrust violations. According to the European Commission, Google has been using its Android platform to get an unfair advantage over competitors in three ways.
First Android Antitrust Violation: Forcing Search and Chrome apps
First and foremost, Google places the Google Search and Google Chrome apps on android devices by default. Google bundles them as internal apps so they are impossible to remove (without jailbreaking). This directly contributes to Android antitrust violations. Using the fact that you made an OS to place your own apps ahead of others is unfair to other developers. Forcing people to use your apps gives others a sharp blow to the gut.
Second Android Antitrust Violation: Denying Android Forks
Secondly, Google is blocking smartphone makers from modifying Android versions to suit their phones. This means the smartphone makers won’t be able to customize the software for their phones. This causes a lot of trouble for these makers as they are known for putting a unique twist to Android. This is in direct violation of the open source nature of Android. Since Android is open source, people are free to fork it and use it as they like. Blocking the smartphone manufacturers from doing what’s their basic right makes up a huge portion of the fine on Google.
Thirsd Android Antitrust Violation: Paying to bundle apps
Third, and perhaps the shadiest thing Google has been doing, is payments to large manufacturers to keep the search app and other Google products on the phone. In a space where all the app developers are fighting battles using innovation, Google goes ahead and pays money to get in front. This is a serious issue. Manufacturers like Samsung and Xiaomi put in a lot of effort to make highly customized Android skins. Placing Google apps is not a requirement for them as they are not running stock Android. To go past this limitation, Google outright pays these companies to bundle in Search and other Google apps. This adds to Android antitrust violations and the fine on Google.
Our Take on the Fine on Google
The practices by Google are a bit of a grey area. They are obviously offensive to other developers, but they enable the free model of Android. EU has been known to be very strict regarding fines. It has not hesitated on calling out big companies to pay fines worth Billions. Google plans to escalate the case to higher authorities. Still, the practices are unfair and Google deserves to be answerable and pay for them.