The European Commission is preparing to hit Google by levying a penalty on it for abusing its dominance through the Android mobile operating system, The Financial Times reported. However, the quantum of the penalty is still not clear, the report said, adding that the commission is empowered to impose fines of up to $11 billion. It said that this is 10% of Google’s parent company Alphabet’s turnover, but generally the decision to levy penalty is at the lower end of the range.
According to the FT report, the commission’s investigation has concluded that Google imposed illegal terms on Android device makers, which harmed and cut consumer choice. Android is the operating system used in more than 80% of the world’s smartphones and is vital to the group’s future revenues. The FT report said that Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, is set to announce the negative finding within weeks and this will mark the most significant regulatory intervention made against Google’s business model.
It said that the decision to levy the penalty will mark an escalation of the commission’s battle with Google, which began eight years ago with an investigation into comparison shopping, then only a narrow part of online commerce. The report said that though that case concluded with a 2.4-billion-euro fine, it has not led to significant changes to Google’s business.
A third investigation is under way into whether the company unfairly banned competitors from websites that used its search bar and adverts, the FT report added.
According to the report, the Android case takes aim at a core part of Google’s strategy over the past decade, which is using its mobile operating system as a platform to push smartphone adoption of its search engine and smartphone app store.
The FT report quoted Google as denying any wrongdoing but adding that it has seen no sign of the commission dropping its concerns or seeking a settlement to the case. – Financial Express