Google has secured backing from two Android smartphone makers in its fight against the EU antitrust order. According to Reuters, Europe's second-highest court (the Luxembourg-based General Court) has allowed Android phone maker HMD Global Oy and Gigaset Communications to intervene in the lawsuit in support of Google.
HMD Global Oy is based in Finland and is the exclusive licensee of the Nokia brand for phones. Ironically, Nokia was among the firms that originally filed the Android complaint years back. Gigaset Communications, meanwhile, is a Germany based communications company.
Lobbying group Application Developers Alliance, web browser Opera Software and the Computer and Communications Industry Association have also been allowed to intervene backing Google.
European Consumer Organisation, FairSearch, Czech search engine Seznam, French search engine Qwant and two German publishing groups, VDZ and BDZV, meanwhile, will intervene in the lawsuit in support of the European Commission (EC).
Google vs European Commission
Google's troubles started in 2013 when several rival companies including FairSearch, Microsoft, Nokia, and Oracle issued complaints to the EC over Google's anti-competitive business practices. The EC started an official investigation a couple of years later. Since then, the web giant has been stung with three huge antitrust fines.
The first one came in June 2017, when the European Commission fined Google a then-record €2.42 billion (or $2.67 billion) for promoting its shopping comparison websites at a direct expense of rivaling alternatives, thus purposefully creating an anti-competitive environment.
In July 2018, the EC again fined Google a record €4.34 billion (or $4.78 billion) for anti-competitive business practices related to its Android mobile operating system. The EC ruled that Google exhibited monopolistic behavior by forcing Android phone makers to give a prominent place to its apps and services, including the Google Chrome browser and the Google Search app, in their phones and avoid giving rival solutions the same treatment.
This remains the world's highest ever antitrust penalty. Google, however, has opted to appeal against the penalty. Court proceedings are expected to begin next year. Besides the fine, the EC also ordered Google to drop its anti-competitive activities within the next 90 days.
A third EU antitrust fine followed the Mountain View company in March this year. The €1.49 billion (or $1.64 billion) fine concerns its abuse of the dominant position of its advertising platform. Apparently, the terms attached to Google's AdSense advertising service mandated its clients don't experiment with rival solutions.
Google has since dropped this strategy, but it was already too late for the company. Or was it? After all, Google has already benefitted hugely from its monopolistic actions over the years.