Today's Cache | Google appeals against a $5 bln fine

Today’s Cache dissects big themes at the intersection of technology, business and policy. Written by John Xavier, tech news lead at The Hindu

Google is appealing against a record fine by the EU watchdog. Thesearch giant says it is pro-competition

Three years ago, EU’s competition watchdog fined Google for breaching the bloc’s antitrust rules. The commission said the search giant strong-armed smartphone manufacturers into pre-installing its own app and search engine in devices in return for Play Store license. It also noted that Google paid certain handset manufacturers to exclusively pre-install its apps, and prevented others from pre-installing its app via alternative versions of Android.

Europe’s top regulator fined Google a record $5 billion for abusing its dominant market position, and asked the company to comply with its decision. The commission gave the Silicon Valley giant a 90-day deadline. And around the end of the period, Google said it would appeal against the ruling.

A file photo of a smartphone displaying the Google home page. | Photo Credit: Reuters


Three years later, Google has initiated the appeals process by contending that its Android software boosted competition, and not stifle it.

“Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world. This case isn’t supported by the facts or the law,” the company said as the five-day hearing opens at the European Court of Justice’s General Court.

The company plans to argue that free and open-source Android has led to lower-priced phones and spurred competition with its chief rival, Apple. Google will also point out that because Android is open source and free, device makers and consumers can decide for themselves which apps to install on their smartphones.

It may also argue that just because its own apps are pre-installed in some phones, it doesn’t mean users can’t download other rival apps.

A verdict won’t be out in months, and it can be appealed to the EU’s Court of Justice, the bloc’s top court.


(This column was emailed on September 28.)


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