Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, has fined Google, an Alphabet subsidiary, $5.1 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Google has been charged with forcing Android phone manufacturers to pre-install various Apps. Thus, Google has been penalised for using Android to solidify the dominance of its own services – most importantly Google Search.
Why does it matter?
The ruling comes at an interesting time. It differentiates Android from its competitors’ operating systems (OS). Thereby, Apple’s OS is seen as an exclusive, vertically integrated system as opposed to Google’s Android, which is open-source. More so, it’s the second time within a year that Google has been fined by the European Commission. Back in 2017, Google has been fined for giving its own shopping comparison service an illegal advantage.
2018 will be known as the year in which the Techlash materialised. The year commenced with the Cambridge Analytica scandal that culminated with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, testifying in front of Congress. The hefty fine against Google illustrates the rift across the Atlantic. A few pointers accounting for the differences in American and European regulation:
- Antitrust Laws: US focussed on consumer welfare vs. EU focussed on competition
- Societal Values: American Libertarianism clashing with the European notion of Social Justice
- National Interests: US sensing the breath of Chinese competition vs. the EU lagging behind