BRUSSELS/MOUNTAIN VIEW: The EU has imposed a $5bn fine on Google for breaching EU antitrust rules with “illegal restrictions” on the use of its Android mobile operating system.

“Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said. “These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on their merits.”

The Commission highlighted three practices in particular, the Financial Times reported, including a requirement that phone manufacturers pre-install Google’s search app and Chrome browser as a condition of being able to use the Google Play app store.

A second was the denial of consumer choice by paying manufacturers and mobile network operators incentives to pre-install Google Search and no other rival services.

The third was preventing wider use of competing systems developed on Android open source code, such as Amazon’s Fire OS, and which could have enabled other search engines to gain more traffic.

“The vast majority of users simply take what comes with their device and don’t download competing apps,” Vestager noted.

In addition to the fine, Google was given 90 days to end these practices with the threat of further fines if it fails to comply.

Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, announced his intention to appeal the decision, arguing in a blog post that “it ignores the fact that Android phones compete with iOS phones” and “misses just how much choice Android provides to thousands of phone makers and mobile network operators who build and sell Android devices”.

Android, he continued, has also enabled rapid innovation and falling prices. “The Android business model has meant that we haven’t had to charge phone makers for our technology, or depend on a tightly controlled distribution model.”

Sourced from Financial Times, Google; additional content by WARC staff