Google faces the prospect of a massive €6.2 billion($A8.6 billion) fine after the European Union accused the tech giant of anticompetitive behaviour, including using its dominance in the online search market to systematically favour its own comparison shopping services.
The EU is accusing Google of harming competition by prominently displaying its comparison shopping service in its general search results pages regardless of merit and not applying search ranking penalties to its own shopping sites, therefore harming consumers and competitors as a result. It comes after Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt described Amazon, rather than Microsoft Bing or Yahoo, as his company’s biggest search rival in October last year.
Along with issuing a formal Statement of Objections over comparison shopping, the EU has also launched an investigation into whether the company has abused the dominant market position of its Android smartphone operating system.
According to IDC figures, Android came preinstalled on 1.059 billion of the 1.3 billion smartphones shipped worldwide during 2014, representing 81.5% of the market, significantly ahead of the nearest rival Apple, which only shipped on 192.7 million smartphones and 14.8% of the market.
The EU is investigating whether Google prevented smartphone makers such as Samsung and LG from shipping devices with other operating systems, required them to include its own apps to be preinstalled on their devices exclusively, and integrated its web services into Android APIs.
In a series of posts on its official blog, Google has fired back against the accusations, claiming its comparison shopping sites haven’t hurt competition in the European online retailing sector, and that Android has helped create more choice and innovation on mobile than ever before.