Google has failed to persuade Europe’s General Court to overturn the Commission’s decision in its Android antitrust case, as well as its decision to fine the company €4.3 billion (US$4.3 billion).
The General Court upheld the Commission’s original ruling from 2018, which stated that Google used its market dominance to impose restrictions on manufacturers of Android phones and tablets.
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However, it reduced the fine slightly, deciding that €4.125 billion (US$4.121 billion) is a more appropriate amount based on its own findings.
The Commission previously determined that Google acted illegally by requiring Android manufacturers to pre-install its apps and search engine. According to the Commission, this allowed the company to “cement its dominant position in a general internet search.”
As of July 2018, approximately 80% of smart devices in Europe were running Android OS, and people are generally satisfied with the default options provided.
According to FairSearch, the group of organizations lobbying against Google’s search dominance and the original complainant in the case, this is a huge deal because Google’s search engine is monetized through paid advertising.
The tech giant makes the majority of its money from online ads; according to Statista, Google’s ad revenue in 2021 will be $209.49 billion. FairSearch also claimed that by requiring Android manufacturers to install Google’s apps and search engine, Google is denying competitors the opportunity to compete fairly.
Aside from imposing restrictions on Android manufacturers, EU officials discovered that Google “paid certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators” in an alleged effort to ensure that carriers only installed Google Search on the devices they sell.
When it comes to the anti-fragmentation agreements that Android manufacturers must sign, the General Court has also agreed with the Commission. According to the court’s decision, these agreements are intended to “prevent the development and market presence of devices running a non-compatible Android fork.”
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In a statement, Google expressed its disappointment in the court’s decision and insisted that Android has created more choices for consumers: “We are disappointed that the Court did not annul the decision in full. Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world.”
The General Court is the EU’s second most powerful court. Google may still seek dismissal, and the case may be heard by the European Court of Justice.