Google pushes overturn of $5-billion Android antitrust

By Laura Berrill
Google launches bid to overturn EU ruling on record fine related to Android OS

The EU regulator says Alphabet abused market dominance, Google says it boosts competition against Apple.

In 2018, the European Commission fined Google, saying that it had used Android since 2011 to thwart rivals and cement its dominance in general internet search.

However, Google unit Alphabet has criticised EU antitrust regulators for ignoring rival Apple as it launched a bid to get Europe's second-highest court to annul a record 4.34-billion euro ($5.1 billion) fine related to its Android operating system.

Android a ‘massive success story’ argument

At the start of the five-day hearing, Google representatives told a panel of five judges that far from holding back rivals and harming users, Android has been a massive success story of competition at work.

The European Commission fined the tech giant back in 2018, saying that it had used Android since 2011 to thwart rivals and cement its dominance in general internet search. Its lawyer, Meredith Pickford told the hearing: “The Commission shut its eyes to the real competitive dynamic in this industry, that between Apple and Android. By defining markets too narrowly and downplaying the potent constraint imposed by the highly powerful Apple, the Commission has mistakenly found Google to be dominant in mobile operating systems and app stores, when it was in fact a vigorous market disrupter.”

Pickford added that Android "is an exceptional success story of the power of competition in action". Commission lawyer Nicholas Khan dismissed Apple's role because of its small market share compared with Android.

“Bringing Apple into the picture doesn't change things very much. Google and Apple pursue different models,” he told the court.

“Google's conduct denied any opportunity for competition," he said, citing agreements which forced phone manufacturers to pre-install Google Search, the Chrome browser and the Google Play app store on their Android devices, and payments to pre-install only Google Search.

 

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