It's not every day when a tech company recommends you check out its rival's product. But Google is being forced to do just that in Europe. To comply with an EU antitrust ruling, the tech giant will show Android users alternative browser and search engine apps on Google Play. The store will serve up two pop-ups: one for search apps, the other for browsers. For each category, users will see a list of the top five apps.
BRUSSELS – European regulators' latest swipe at the dominance of U.S. tech giant Google could open new opportunities for rivals in search and web browsers -- that is, if handset manufacturers decide to make the most of the opening. The European Commission on Wednesday fined Google a record €4.3 billion ($5 billion) for forcing cellphone-makers that use the company's Android operating system to install Google's search and browser apps. It also set a 90-day deadline for Google to rectify the problem or risk further fines. A remedy could involve unbundling its core apps Search, Chrome and Play Store from eight other apps it packages with Android. The company could also decide to reverse its practice of disallowing Android handset manufacturers to sell devices using altered versions of Android, such as Amazon's Fire OS.
Brussels ordered Google to rip up parts of agreements with mobile phone makers and telecommunications operators. Regulators said the deals effectively force those companies to pre-install the Google search engine and its Chrome browser in versions of Android that Google provides, free of charge, for use in phones and other devices. The decision, while applicable only in Europe, will require changes with global device makers that sell products on the continent. Google doesn't break out its EU revenue; in 2017 it brought in $36.05 billion in revenue from Europe, Middle East and Africa, a third of its total, according to a securities filing. Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai in a blog post Wednesday said Android had increased competition among smartphone makers and boosted choice for consumers.
Google has been forced to open up Android to rival search engines and applications in Russia, after settling a two-year battle with competition authorities for 439m roubles (£6.2m). The deal sets a new precedent for Google, which until now has resisted permitting the pre-installation of rival search engines and certain applications on to the world's most popular operating system. In 2015, Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) ruled that the Android-maker was breaking the law and abusing its dominant position through restrictions on third-party manufacturers, fining Google 438m rubles (£6.2m) in August 2016. The FAS said that Google will no longer demand exclusivity of its applications on Android devices sold in Russia and will not restrict the pre-installation of rival search engines and other applications. Google will also develop a tool allowing users to choose the default search engine on new and existing Android devices, a similar measure put in place by Microsoft for browser choice on Windows following antitrust action by the European Commission.
European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager held a joint news conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday after slapping a record $5 billion antitrust penalty on the U.S. tech giant. European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager held a joint news conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday after slapping a record $5 billion antitrust penalty on the U.S. tech giant. The European Commission has fined Google $5 billion for violating EU antitrust laws -- specifically, by forcing manufacturers of Android phones to install the Google search app and the Chrome web browser. "Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine," Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. "These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits."