Google Appeals Record $5 Billion EU Antitrust Android Fine

On October 9, Google filed an appeal of the European Commission’s (EC’s) record €4.3 billion (roughly $5 billion) antitrust fine, which was imposed in July because of Google Play app pre-install requirements.

In the eyes of the EC, the practice of requiring handset makers to pre-install specific Google-made apps as was counted as “an abuse of market position.”  But in a blog post, GOogle argued that the practice is beneficial to the ecosystem and enables the company to offer the Android OS for free.  The EC gave Google 90 days to change how it did business with phone makers or deal with additional fines.

Google said, as soon as the fine was imposed, that it would appeal the decision.

Google will argue in the appeal, as well as other things, that its current practices give consumers more choice at a lower cost.  But in EC’s defense, Google’s practices harm competitors in multiple ways, as well as give Google’s own apps an unfair advantage.

Procedurally, the case will go to Europe’s second highest court, which means that there could be another appeal to the highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union.  In the end, it could take years to finally resolve the matter.

Will Google significantly change its Android rules in Europe during the appeal?  This remains to be seen.  The EC is seeking to compel such changes.  If this happens, it could open the door for new “default” apps on European handsets in search, maps, video and so on.

If this comes to pass, this would matter to developers. It could matter to marketers if, for example, new apps gain widespread consumer adoption (e.g., maps, search). But this is quite speculative. Users would still be free to download Google apps and continue using them as they are today; there would just be an additional step.

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