Google may replace Android with Fuchsia OS

Android May Not Remain Free After EU Fines Google $5 Billion For Antitrust Violations

Android May Not Remain Free After EU Fines Google $5 Billion For Antitrust Violations

It is the largest antitrust fine ever levied by the European authorities on competition issues from the same company.

In a long-awaited decision, the European Commission on Wednesday fined Alphabet Inc.'s Google a record $5 billion for unfair business practices. These attacks on Google and other USA tech giants, including Apple, Microsoft and Amazon, amount to little more than trade protectionism - deceptively dressed up as benevolent European Union consumer protection.

The commission ruled that the bundling practices were illegal because of Google's dominance in the markets of "licensable smart mobile operating systems and app stores for the Android mobile operating system".

The competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager concluded Google had abused its power by forcing Android-based device manufacturers to adopt Google's search and web browsing apps, as well as an array of associated Google apps, by default.

A remedy could involve unbundling its core apps Search, Chrome and Play Store from eight other apps it packages with Android. Apple is more effective at keeping competitors out: Its Safari browser holds nearly the same market share as its iOS operating system.

Google immediately said it will appeal the ruling, arguing that its free operating system has led to lower-price phones and created competition with its chief rival, Apple.

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The hope is that unbundling Google's apps from phones levels the playing field for competitors to get their foot in the door - or rather their app in front of new eyeballs. Google licenses its Android software to phone-makers for free.

While this situation feels like a blast from the past-reminiscent of US regulators' 1998 antitrust action against Microsoft-the stakes now are quite different. All told, this is a pretty popular trade-off: Android is now used in about 80 percent of the world's smartphones.

United States president Donald Trump has spoken out slammed the EU's antitrust fine against Google.

The US on Monday filed five disputes at the WTO against five trading partners, including the European Union, for announcing trade tariffs in retaliation to its own on aluminum and steel imports.

In 2015 former President Barack Obama said in an interview with Recode that the European Union was sometimes "more commercially driven than anything else" in its probes of USA tech companies, including Google. "But we are concerned that today's decision will upset the careful balance that we have struck with Android, and that it sends a troubling signal in favor of proprietary systems over open platforms", Pichai said.

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