- The Android antitrust case in the EU has gone on for two years now. It might be coming to a final decision as soon as next month.
- If found guilty of violating European antitrust laws, Google could face fines in the billions.
- Google denies any wrongdoing in the case.
In 2016, the European Commission informed Google that it felt some of its practices revolving around the Android operating system violated European antitrust laws. Now, it looks like the final decision in that case could come as soon as next month.
Sources with direct knowledge of the EU probe spoke to Politico on the condition of anonymity due to gag orders in the case. These sources said the final announcement could come at any time, but the expectation is for a decision in early July 2018.
If Google is indeed found to have violated EU antitrust laws, it could face fines in the billions. Recently, a fine was levied against the search giant to the tune of 2.4 billion euros (~$2.8 billion) for similar antitrust issues; it is assumed that this case could result in a penalty more substantial than that.
This antitrust case revolves around three central allegations against Google’s practices when it comes to Android:
- Google allegedly requires smartphone manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google’s Chrome browser, and then set both as the default.
- Smartphone makers are allegedly discouraged from releasing devices that are based on the Android open source code but not affiliated with the Google-owned property.
- Google also allegedly provides financial incentives to device manufacturers in exchange for them to exclusively pre-install Google Search on devices.
The European Commission believes that these practices hinder competition in both the mobile browser and mobile operating system industries, as well as ensure Google’s dominance in the Search market to the point of a monopoly.
Google has defended its practices and claimed no wrong-doing in response to all allegations.
Margrethe Vestager – the EU antitrust czar directly responsible for the case against Google, pictured above – is also trying to levy fines against other major internet companies. The Danish official also demanded that Apple repay Ireland for the alleged unfair state aid the company received (13 billion euros), called on Amazon to return 250 million euros for similar issues in Luxembourg, and fined Facebook for issues revolving around its acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014. Many of the companies and even the states have appealed the decisions.
Both the European Commission and Google did not comment on the potential July decision in this case.