Google has now reached out via its blog to offer up a defense of its sometimes self-serving practices and a commitment to “choice and competition in Europe” amid news that hefty new antitrust fines are incoming from the EU. The company begins by searching for common ground with the Commission, suggesting that agreement between the company of EU body can be found in the idea that “healthy, thriving markets” are good for everybody -- including Google.
Pointing to the need for competition to drive a thriving market, Google claims that has been its goal all along but that it is hearing and considering feedback from both users and the European Commission.
That feedback is responsible for the thousands of changes Google makes to its products and services every year as well as unspecified changes moving forward. For example, Google says that changes to its licensing practices on Android, including the creation of differentiated licenses for Google Play, Chrome, and other products, have been made at the suggestion of the Commission. The move is one that enabled OEMs to install alternative services in addition to Google’s offerings.
Fines, fees, and penalties
Each of the changes Google has made over the past several months has come at some cost to the company, following a number of suits from a variety of countries. In the EU alone, Google has faced antitrust cases centered around its shopping suggestions and how closely it ties Android to its own apps and services.
Among its most recent fines, the company was forced to pay over $5 billion in a case that ultimately resulted in the search giant allowing heavily modified Android "forks" to pre-install Google's apps despite diverging from the primary variant Android. The company was also hit for a lesser fine from the EU's Commission of €2.4 billion -- $2.73 billion -- for its bias in shopping results prior to changes.
In the wake of those consequences and a much more recent €1.5 billion antitrust fine from the same body, Google has struggled to maintain its user-first image. Among its efforts to offset the likelihood of further fines, it has even gone so far as to include one of its most critical rivals DuckDuckGo as a default search option in Chrome. That's on top of significant changes to AdSense for Search and other areas of its business.
Where does Google go from here?
The hard-won changes Google has implemented have seemingly been a direct result of continued rulings against the company and the associated impact of those on public perception of the company.
That doesn't mean that the search giant is just rolling over and taking its penalties as they arrive though. Google is actually working to fight back against the antitrust fines even as it makes fundamental changes to how it operates. Google has actively worked to overturn or appeal fees leveled against it in nearly every case since antitrust problems at the company were thrust more prominently into the public eye and under investigation back in 2016.
Claims against the company have undoubtedly resulted in changes for the better and Google's latest defense appears to be a start in terms of the company holding itself accountable. The actions and commitment to change are unlikely to have a big impact for some of its staunchest opponents, regardless.