EU Expected To Hit Google With Multi-Billion Android Fine

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The European Union's antitrust watchdog is expected to hit Google with a multi-billion fine over its abuse of the dominant position of the Android operating system, with the first-instance ruling on the matter being scheduled to arrive next month. The development should mark the end of the first episode of a years-long case and the second major fine Google will receive on the Old Continent over the last twelve months, having already been served with a $2.7 billion penalty due to the anti-competitive manner in which it promoted its shopping comparison service last summer. The company is presently appealing the verdict which is likely to drag on for years before being enforced, altered, or dismissed, with the dispute being the result of the first antitrust investigation into Google's practices started by the European Commission and the probe itself being opened in 2010.

A third EU-led competition investigation into Google is also underway, exploring allegations that the tech giant banned competing services from websites that rely on its advertising and Internet search functionalities. The Android case whose first-instance verdict is expected in July could theoretically result in a fine of up to $11 billion, i.e. ten-percent of Google's annual revenue, though the political bloc traditionally issues more modest penalties. Google is still likely to be hit with a multi-billion ruling, as was the case with the investigation into the manner in which it promoted its online shopping service.

The price comparison probe hasn't radically changed Google's business practices and neither is the Android investigation expected to significantly alter its operations. Android, an OS presently used by some 80-percent of all active smartphones in the world, has been used by Google for promoting its apps and Search engine; despite being open-sourced, an up-to-date version of Android OEMs are provided with in advance can only be obtained by agreeing to pre-install a broad range of Google's apps and services on one's handset. The European Commission already said it believes such terms of use hurt consumer choice and are hence anti-competitive in nature, a notion that Google repeatedly dismissed.

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