European Commission fines Google for illegal practices

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Google has been hit with a record fine of €4.34bn (£3.9bn) by the European Commission for abusing the dominance of its Android operating system. But Google has 90 days to stop its business practices and will face European Union monitoring going forward.

The EU had investigated how Google requires mobile phone makers to include the search giant's apps when they license the Android operating system.

In order to pre-install Google's apps - including the Play Store and Google Search - on their devices, manufacturers had to commit not to develop or sell even a single device running on an Android fork. She continued to say Google has been "denying rivals a chance to innovate and compete on the merits".

Two European sources said the fine would be "several billion euros" but said the exact amount would not be finalised until European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker meets his commissioners on Wednesday morning.

Android is seen as a key part of Google's future profit base, with more users relying on mobile gadgets for search services and Android being used in more than four in every five of the world's smartphones.

In a blog post, Google CEO Sundar Pichai argued that Android has expanded choice for users, not lowered it.

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It's the second such fine the European Union has slapped on the tech giant in just over a year and could mean big changes to the world's most popular platform.

The EU fine exceeds last year's then-record penalty of $2.7 billion following an investigation into Google's shopping-search service.

Google said it would appeal the fine.

"Google is entitled to set technical requirements to ensure that functionality and apps within its own ecosystem run smoothly, but these technical requirements can not serve as a smokescreen to prevent the development of competing for Android ecosystems", said EU's competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. After that, the company can be fined up to 5 percent of its parent company Alphabet's daily revenue for non-compliance. The ecosystem carries all the properties needed for a fair competition - "rapid innovation and lower prices". That's because they prevented other mobile browsers from competing effectively with the pre-installed Google Chrome browser.

The fine will be announced during a press conference in Brussels at 1pm local time today (12pm BST/7pm ET). It also notes that Google "made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices".

Since then, Google has been fighting the case and it's now stuck in court. "This harmed competition by significantly reducing their incentives to pre-install competing search apps", the EC said, but noted this practice ended in 2014. The main argument seems to rely on the fact that iOS exists and that Android has enabled many app developers, including European ones, to make a living through the platform. "We intend to appeal".

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