Yesterday, European officials fined Google a record-breaking $5.1 billion dollars in wake of the Android antitrust case. Fined for abusing the Android operating system’s dominance in the smartphone market, this has become the largest fine imposed on a company in EU history. Based on media coverage alone, it might seem as if the tech titans are in trouble, with headlines believing this could be the beginning of a tech revolution when Google is required to comply to the guidelines of the fine in the upcoming months.
However, and far more importantly for Google, the EU has given Google 90 days to quit the actions the EU has deemed as illegal, or it will face further fines from the European Commission. Notwithstanding this week’s fine, experts believe the online giant is nowhere near being reined in, even with the looming possibility of further punishment.
Europe Is Right To Stand Up To Google
The European Union’s antitrust fine of, in euros, 4.34 billion was almost double it’s fine against Google last year over the company’s unfair favoring of its own services in internet search results.
The penalty’s size highlighted Europe’s increasingly bold stance against the power of American tech firms, even as officials in the United States have taken a largely hands-off approach to the companies. Since the commission says that Google is doing pretty much what Microsoft did in the late 1990s, which involved the software giant attempting to tie together pieces of software to cement its dominance, experts say this fine comes a little too late, even though it is within their right to stand up to Google.
“The EU stance is arguably six to eight years too late. Android has already helped establish Google apps and services as essentials for consumers in the Western World. While the separation of apps from the operating system may help foster competition over the longer term, manufacturers will continue to need to offer Google services to be competitive and address consumer demand.” argues Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight.
Despite the changes Google is being forced to make, the EU is only targeting a small section of the company’s massive power. That being said, critics say these actions will not have much of an effect now anyway.
What Happens Next?
So, what’s next? After the money is taken from Google, the money is placed in a closed account and held until all court appeals have been heard. If the fine is upheld by the appeals process, then the money is sent to the European Union, and from there it is portioned out to each member.
Although it is still too early to say exactly how Google will fare from this judgment, the EU’s current ruling does very little to challenge the many ways Google uses Android to promote its other dominant services like YouTube or Google Maps. Phone makers will now wield a little more power over exactly what apps are bundled on handsets, but Google has shown it is willing to threaten Android licensing fees as an alternative.
“The ruling is designed to encourage competition, and it’s possible we might see some from Chinese phone makers or even Amazon’s own devices. Amazon ships a forked version of Android, but the EU’s decision still means the Google Play Store is restricted to Google’s licensed version of Android.” The Verge reports.
With this ruling, we can see the barriers of action to get even higher. However, to say that any single action by the European Commission is going to stop Google is probably naïve, but we can expect to see many major changes in antitrust interventions in the future.
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