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Google May Face Another Record EU Fine, This Time Over Android (itwire.com) 192

troublemaker_23 shares a report from ITWire: The EU is contemplating another record fine against Google over how it pays and limits mobile phone providers who use the search company's Android mobile operating system and app store. Reuters reported that a decision could be expected by the end of the year if the opinion of a team of experts, set up by the EU to obtain a second opinion, agree with the decisions reached by the team that has worked on the case. The report quoted Richard Windsor, an independent financial analyst, as saying that the Android fine was likely to hurt Google more than the search fine or the verdict in a third EU probe over AdSense. "If Google was forced to unbundle Google Play from its other Digital Life services, handset makers and operators would be free to set whatever they like by default potentially triggering a decline in the usage of Google's services," he said.

In the chargesheet, issued on April 20, 2016, the European Commission said Google had breached EU anti-trust rules by:
-Requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google's Chrome browser and requiring them to set Google Search as default search service on their devices, as a condition to license certain Google proprietary apps;
-Preventing manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code;
-Giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-install Google Search on their devices.

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Google May Face Another Record EU Fine, This Time Over Android

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    They have to make up the money they will lose when the UK leaves somehow.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 06, 2017 @08:13AM (#54755561)

    Seriously - Why no mention of apple - surely they should be going for apples jugular given they don't allow anyone else to use their devices, *OR* install competing stores on them

    At least with googles system you can disable the bits you don't want, *AND* install other app stores. You can't do that on apple.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi@@@evcircuits...com> on Thursday July 06, 2017 @08:22AM (#54755653) Homepage

      Apparently Google is willing to foot the bill or less able to pull out of the market. Apple and Microsoft has enough clout, if they just threaten to pull out of Europe or pass on the cost to their educational and government customers, the fines are quickly forgotten. These things are just a political game, it's pure protectionism.

      Google's market is much more fractured and less important to continuity of businesses. There are plenty of other search engines and Android and their ads are not just sold by Google, but by hundreds if not thousands of smaller parties. Even if Google threatened to pull out of the market, they would be doing enough residual business to still qualify for the fine.

      They also need the European market much more than Apple or Microsoft combined and have little to no leverage over their customers.

      • It's basically a game of chicken. Let's see who blinks first.

      • by olau ( 314197 )

        Do you have any evidence of those claims?

        The EU has in fact gone after Microsoft.

        The reason they haven't gone after Apple is perhaps related to the fact that Apple has always been a niche player, although that niche at times has been pretty large.

        • by guruevi ( 827432 )

          The EU has gone after Microsoft over a complaint by Novell from 1995, they were indeed fined to the tune of $500M later reduced to ~300M by the courts in 2007 and I believe it may still be in appeal at this point. The EU has in the mean time threatened Microsoft over other practices but never followed up.

    • by mschaffer ( 97223 ) on Thursday July 06, 2017 @08:34AM (#54755741)

      Isn't it obvious, the EU regulators are a bunch of Apple shills and fanbois.

    • Seriously - Why no mention of apple - surely they should be going for apples jugular given they don't allow anyone else to use their devices, *OR* install competing stores on them

      At least with googles system you can disable the bits you don't want, *AND* install other app stores. You can't do that on apple.

      As much as I disagree with this verdict the answer to your question is obvious: Apple iOS, it's associated products and services, and all its restrictions are only available on Apple devices. So by limiting what they do they have no one to affect but themselves.

      Now as to why I disagree with this verdict is that Google Play services is optional. AOSP is available for 3rd parties to do with what they want. And before someone cries about the binary bits and things that are only available in the "real" Android,

    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      Seriously - Why no mention of apple

      Just checking: Apple also has 88% of the smartphone market, right?

    • Because:

      1. Apple does not have a market share significant enough to exert pressure on other markets (e.g. a monopoly)
      2. Apple is not using that monopoly they don't have (see #1) to exert pressure on other markets
      3. Apple does not have OEMs that they have forced to use other Apple services (see #2) in order to get access to the Apple service with the significant market share that they don't have (again, see #1).

      See where I'm going with this? You can't expect anti-trust action against someone that doesn't

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you want a phone that isn't a consumerist piece of trash that you'll throw in the garbage in two years, you need to go with Apple. I don't know why Google fanbois hate the environment so much, but they should get some ethics and some taste.

    • by tsqr ( 808554 )

      If you want a phone that isn't a consumerist piece of trash that you'll throw in the garbage in two years, you need to go with Apple. I don't know why Google fanbois hate the environment so much, but they should get some ethics and some taste.

      This is more than a bit specious, given the average iPhone user's propensity for upgrading whenever a new model is released.

    • Really? My Android phone (Galaxy 4) is approaching five years old. I need to update it because it's getting a bit worn and is falling behind on Android updates (thanks Samsung), But I'm on my second battery and I've worn out two Otterbox cases. Meanwhile every Appleholic rushes out for a new device every year.
  • I believe that forcing manufacturers to include a pretty big number of Google apps if they want to include any of them (including some everyone essentially wants like the Play store, Gmail and Maps) is a bit abusive.
    The agreement Google forces upon manufacturers that want to release Android phones also states that they can't release any device bearing an Android-derived OS. That is, Amazon can release their tablets with an Android-derived OS, bug Samsung can't do so since they do release devices with Googl
    • An alternative to the forced bundling of apps and services would be that the manufacturers paid for the privilege of using the closed source bits of Android and Google's apps.

      From Google's point of view that is failure, not an alternative. It is their mission to put their apps in the hands of users so that they can derive ad revenue from them, directly or indirectly. They are therefore trying to encourage manufacturers to include gapps. Charging for them is the opposite of what they're trying to accomplish.

  • Sigh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday July 06, 2017 @08:22AM (#54755645) Homepage Journal

    Requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google's Chrome browser and requiring them to set Google Search as default search service on their devices, as a condition to license certain Google proprietary apps;

    Bundling. Naughty, naughty.

    -Preventing manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code;

    Really? I thought they were just denying them the use of their trademarks for the purpose.

    -Giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-install Google Search on their devices.

    Exclusively? Really? Or just not on the home screen?

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Thursday July 06, 2017 @08:32AM (#54755721)

    -Requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google's Chrome browser and requiring them to set Google Search as default search service on their devices, as a condition to license certain Google proprietary apps;
    -Preventing manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code;
    -Giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-install Google Search on their devices.

    This all sounds like Microsoft and the browser wars all over again. If this is indeed the case, Google should be punished "hard."

    • Except it's not as vendors are free to install what they want on their devices.

      The difference in the Browser wars was that there was no other company offering to sell you a version of windows without IE. Yet there are plenty offering to sell you different services with different stores, and Google even offers the source code up for free for you to roll your own (okay you don't have the resources for this, but the likes of Samsung do).

    • The difference is that Microsoft *charged* for their OS. AOSP is free. Google is staying in business by monetizing Android with a deal: "you install our apps on your phone and we will give you Google search and access to the App store". All of which cost Google money. So they need to recoup their investment somehow. Apple does it by charging high prices. Google does it by giving it away but requiring a bundle to use any of their own software components.

  • by colonslash ( 544210 ) on Thursday July 06, 2017 @08:34AM (#54755731)

    Here's a great article about why this makes no sense (basically, regulating a market that doesn't need it):
    https://www.wired.com/2016/11/... [wired.com]

    • I wonder how many times the EU can milk Google for billions before Google thinks it's just not worth the trouble. I'm sure it's an enormous market but still, it seems like the EU exists primarily to pick the pockets of large corporations that stray too close to their shores.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 06, 2017 @08:39AM (#54755769)

    ... but this is what is looks like when your government actually cares about protecting its citizens. Microsoft was first, now Google, other abusers to follow.

    Forced bundling, undeletable apps, different pricing per region, forcing out competition, regional locking, all will be taken care of for EU citizens. As a result the capitalist model is working well causing competition which results for example in low prices for food, medication, insurance, internet, TV subscriptions, no caps on fixed line etc.

    But please, don't believe me; there is already a considerable influx of American scientists and retirees, so don't come. It's horrible over here!

    Posting as AC because I value my privacy.

    • by colonslash ( 544210 ) on Thursday July 06, 2017 @09:07AM (#54755955)

      'Helping consumers' in this way is why the EU doesn't have a Google, Microsoft, Amazon, or Facebook. These companies have created a tremendous amount of consumer value, but they couldn't ever grow in an environment like that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by 0ld_d0g ( 923931 )

        The EU says that companies should not be allowed to create such "tremendous amount of consumer value" at the expense of shitting on their citizens in other ways (privacy, surveillance, bundling, exploiting labor, etc).

      • You're talking about 3 of the most hated companies for just what part of the consumer they actually "value".

        The thing is, most of these companies created most of their consumer value before they grew into abusive pieces of crap. Note that it's not the size of the company that is under fire in the EU, but rather a set of very VERY specific decisions about very isolated parts of the business.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        Hahahaha. Is this still the same Slashdort where Microsoft is one of the good guys? Really? And The EU is not "For the customers" it is, if anything "for the people". Many times those are customers, but they can also be employees.

        And how fast you forget if you think Microsoft was good. Amazon basically crushes many other stores and abuses its emplyees (e.g. the people who work there) and facebook breaks more privacy laws than it has members.

        So indeed, they could never have grown here in Europe. The sad thin

      • by olau ( 314197 )

        Eh, so Siemens, Nokia and all these companies listed here

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        could never happen?

        I don't think GP is right, though. There is anti-trust legislation in the US too. I just think these American businesses are more succesful at lobbying in the US and hence seem to avoid getting in the spotlight.

        It's the same in Europe - take the VW emission scandal as an example. Huge fine across the Atlantic, but what about in Germany? It's depressing.

        Another thing you need to keep in mind about Eu

  • In Europe they're at least attempting to serve notice that the rights and interests of individual citizens outweigh those of the corporations. I find it interesting that Europe, with its long history of monarchies and empires, seems to be doing a better job of defending Joe Average's rights than is America, with its history of individualism and personal freedom.

    • by Chas ( 5144 )

      No they're not.

      They're simply going after large, cash-saturated companies to wring a payday out of them.
      The EU could not give less of a shit about "individual rights and interests" if they tried.

  • It seems to me that in addition to Google, that the carriers were complicit in this and got benefit out of it as well. I would hope that the EU commission would go after them in addition to Google.
    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      Please clarify: what are the carriers, and how are they complicit?

      Note: Mobile Service Providers (if that's "carriers") in Europe are not operating in manners similar to those in the US, and in some countries locking phones to a provider is even illegal.

  • by SmaryJerry ( 2759091 ) on Thursday July 06, 2017 @09:23AM (#54756101)
    Does anyone think it is a coincidence all these huge fines in recent years are against American companies. EU wouldn't do this to their own companies like they do to Apple and Google and other American companies. Now they are going after a literally free product with a fine. That is amazing.
    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      Does anyone think it is a coincidence all these huge fines in recent years are against American companies.

      American companies like Gazprom? Or you mean Mærks? ICAP? Eberspächer? Oh, wait, American company LG Display, right?

    • Interesting. ATM the only responses to you are somewhat invalid arguments from AC's.

      The one link that I saw stated the conclusion in the address: "the-largest-fines-dished-out-by-the-eu-commission-facebook-google.html"

  • Oh well, I guess that what it takes to do business in the EU. Play by the rules, pay the correct taxes, and especially pay the right person. But if you think about it paying a €1B fine for making €100B is just the cost of doing business in those countries.

    • Oh well, I guess that what it takes to do business in the EU. Play by the rules, pay the correct taxes, and especially pay the right person. But if you think about it paying a â1B fine for making â100B is just the cost of doing business in those countries.

      Sounds kind of like a twisted, modern-day, updated version of "noblesse oblige" for the EU tech market.

      Well, they say that old tricks are the best tricks, and what once was old will be new again. Too bad more people everywhere don't pay more heed to "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

      Strat

  • You'd think after Venezuela companies would learn that it's risky doing business in an area where a socialist government sees their earnings simply as a piggy-bank to be raided whenever their own shitty economic fallacies collapse? When the kleptocracy says "they have many billions, they won't miss a few" it's time to take your toys and go home.

    Ultimately, such economies are going to have to face that either they play nice with the rest of the world, or the end result is that they're going to be shut out a

    • Ultimately, such economies are going to have to face that either they play nice with the rest of the world, or the end result is that they're going to be shut out and have to depend on their local crappy replacements for the goods and services no longer available to them from better companies elsewhere in the world.

      More likely, they do what EU nations have always done when their economies and/or governments/leaders fail...start a war. It's the most common form of 'reset' through Europe's past.

      Strat

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday July 06, 2017 @10:44AM (#54756923)
    The vast majority of people I know only use Word, with a large segment using Word + Excel. Yet the smallest version of Office you can get bundles (i.e. forces you to pay for) Powerpoint and OneNote to get those two.

    Companies release their products as bundles all the time. If Google had been leveraging their search dominance to Android dominance, I could sorta understand this. But they're not - they're doing it the other way around. If you want the Play Store, you have to install the Google suite of Android apps which includes the Google search bar. Anyone who is already a user of Google search can continue to use it in a Google-free version of Android like Cyanogenmod in a browser, just like they do on the desktop. Google's version of Android is basically AOSP + their bundle.

    The second charge doesn't even make sense. The EU is pretty much telling Google "you would have been better off if you hadn't released Android as open source." Way to destroy any incentive for any company to ever use or release anything as open source again. In the future companies will only release the absolute minimum source code as required by licensing, preferably not a fully functioning product (like AOSP) so no regulatory agency can ever blame them for a derivative product's failure.

    The third charge has merit if true. No kickbacks putting a finger on the scales of the market's behavior.
    • That would be a hard sell because Microsoft has less of a monopoly on office suites than it ever has had since the rise of Microsoft Office.

  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Thursday July 06, 2017 @11:12AM (#54757179)

    After a few months of having to go to the library (remember those?) and look things up on paper - or worse, using Bing, Europeans will be clamoring to have the government let Google back in.

    • I think Google should charge for any of their ad supported services and software when they're not allowed to advertise through them. Charge for search, charge for Android, etc. If Google gets fines and can't collect revenue then the users should pay for the services and software.

  • -Requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google's Chrome browser and requiring them to set Google Search as default search service on their devices, as a condition to license certain Google proprietary apps;

    I don't care what's pre-installed, as long as I can remove it, or at least disable it. Defaults I could care even less about.

    -Preventing manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code;

    This one's ugly IMO.

    -Givi

  • they deserve it just for the thousand of times pressing the home button for a split second opens the dammed Google search app, which is useless and impossible to disable.

  • We might see some good come out of this, if the ruling ends the safetynet anti-consumer nonsense from Google.

    If they are forced to allow play store to run on AOSP derivatives, they should also be forced to drop restrictions on installing apps on custom ROMs, unlocked bootloaders and rooted devices. All of these are legal in Europe, so discriminating against them should be forbidden and fined.

    I'm only afraid that this commissioner is setting her agenda more on Microsoft's wishes than on consumer needs...

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