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“Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine,” Margrethe Vestager, an antitrust official, said in a statement. “They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere,” she added.
This will mark the largest fine ever imposed by the European Commission. The company must stop the anticompetitive practices within 90 days or face even more penalties.
Over the course of an investigation that began in 2015, the Commission found that Google paid smartphone manufacturers and network operators to install Google apps on phones before they were sold. In addition, the tech company blocked manufacturers from selling devices that ran Android versions other than Google's.
Google has announced it plans to appeal the decision, arguing in a statement that Android creates more choice, "a vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices." Moreover, in a blog post, CEO Sundar Pichai took almost the exact opposite position of the Commission. More specifically, he wrote that Google’s practice of pre-installing apps ensures "the balance of the Android ecosystem.” In addition, the practice allows Google to not "charge phone makers for our technology, or depend on a tightly controlled distribution model."
"A healthy, thriving Android ecosystem is in everyone’s interest, and we’ve shown we’re willing to make changes," Pichai wrote. "But we are concerned that today’s decision will upset the careful balance that we have struck with Android, and that it sends a troubling signal in favor of proprietary systems over open platforms.”
This fine comes after the EU tightened its privacy laws and caused multinational companies like Google to update their privacy policies around May of this year. In April, Google lost a landmark case over the region's “right to be forgotten,” which allows European citizens to ask search engines to delist URLs from results if they lead to websites that contain inaccurate, irrelevant, or outdated information.