Google has been issued with a record fine of more than four billion euro by the European Commission competition authorities for abusing its market position through the Android mobile operating system.
The Commission said it was issuing a fine of 4.34 billion euro (£3.9 billion) over restrictions placed on mobile phone manufacturers using Android to drive internet traffic to Google’s own search engine.
European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the technology giant was “denying rivals a chance to innovate and compete”, which was “illegal under EU antitrust rules”.
“Google has required manufacturers to pre-install the Google search and browser apps on devices running on the Android mobile operating system,” she said, adding that this was a condition for operators being given access to the Google Play app store.
The Commission said Google also made payments to some large manufacturers and mobile network operators on the condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices.
“Today, mobile internet makes up more than half of global internet traffic,” Ms Vestager added.
“It has changed the lives of millions of Europeans. Our case is about three types of restrictions that Google has imposed on Android device manufacturers and network operators to ensure that traffic on Android devices goes to the Google search engine.
“In this way, Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine.
“These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits.
“They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.”
In response, the technology giant said it would appeal against the Commission’s ruling.
“Android has created more choice for everyone, not less,” a tweet from the official Google Europe account said.
“A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition. We will appeal the Commission’s decision.”
Ms Vestager said Google now had 90 days to bring its conduct to an end or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, the firm’s parent company.
The Commission has previously ordered Google to pay more than £2 billion over antitrust breaches linked to the firm’s online shopping comparison service.
Google is currently appealing against that decision.