Google will be hit with a record-breaking €4.3 billion ($5 billion) fine by EU regulators for breaking antitrust laws. Bloomberg News reports that the European Commission has settled on a significant fine for Google’s Android app bundling that will be announced around 6AM ET today. The European Commission has accused Google of abusing its Android market dominance by bundling its search engine and Chrome apps into the operating system. Google has also allegedly blocked phone makers from creating devices that run forked versions of Android.
The potential $5 billion fine dwarfs Google’s previous $2.7 billion record-breaking fine from the EU last year over manipulated search results. Google is still appealing that particular judgment in a back-and-forth that’s expected to last years. Facebook, Intel, and Microsoft have all faced significant anti-competition fines from the European Commission. Microsoft was famously fined twice by the EU, after the software maker failed to include a browser ballot in a Windows 7 update. Apple was also ordered to pay back $15.4 billion in taxes to the European Union.
The European Commission has been investigating Android more closely over the past year after rivals complained that Google has been abusing its market dominance in software than runs on smartphones. FairSearch originally filed a complaint against Google back in 2013, and the group included competitors like Nokia, Microsoft, and Oracle. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer also called Google a “monopoly” at the time, and one that authorities should control. While Google and Microsoft ended their Android patent disagreements a few years ago, that hasn’t stopped the EU from investigating the original allegations.
Android has long been considered as open source software, but Google has slowly been adding key components into its Google Play Services software and associated agreements. Alongside anti-fragmentation agreements to keep manufacturers on Google’s version of Android, most Android handsets (outside of China) now ship with Google’s software and services bundled on them.
While the fine is significant, it’s the actions that the EU could force on Google that will have a far greater impact on the company and Android. Google could now be facing its own “Microsoft moment,” with years of oversight from the European Commission to ensure it’s no longer abusing its market dominance.