Google fails to overturn EU Android antitrust ruling but reduces its fine by 5 percent

The European General Court lowered the tech giant's fine to €4.125 billion.

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Google has failed to convince Europe's General Court to overturn the Commission's ruling on its Android antitrust case and its decision to slap the company with a €4.3 (US$4.3) billion fine. The General Court upheld the Commission's original ruling back in 2018 that Google used its dominant position in the market to impose restrictions on manufacturers that make Android phones and tablets. It did, however, reduce the fine a bit, deciding that €4.125 (US$4.121) billion is the more appropriate amount based on its own findings.

The Commission previously found that Google acted illegally by making it mandatory for Android manufacturers to pre-install its apps and its search engine. By doing so, the Commission said that the company was able to "cement its dominant position in general internet search." Approximately 80 percent of smart devices in Europe as of July 2018 were running Android OS, and people tend to be content with the default options they're given.

That is a huge deal according to FairSearch, the group of organizations lobbying against Google's search dominance and the original complainant in the case, because Google's search engine is monetized with paid advertising. The tech giant makes most of its money from online ads — based on information from Statista, Google's ad revenue in 2021 amounted to $209.49 billion. FairSearch also said that by making it mandatory for Android manufacturers to install its apps and search engine, Google is denying competitors the chance to compete fairly.

In addition to imposing restrictions on Android manufacturers, EU officials also found that Google "made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators" in an alleged effort to ensure that carriers only installed Google Search on the devisions they sell. The General Court has agreed with the Commission, as well, when it comes to the anti-fragmentation agreements Android manufacturers have to sign. These agreements seek to "prevent the development and market presence of devices running a non-compatible Android fork," the court wrote in its decision.

In a statement provided to Engadget, Google has expressed its disappointment in the court's decision and insisted that Android has created more choices for consumers:

"We are disappointed that the Court did not annul the decision in full. Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world."

The General Court is the EU's second highest court. Google could still pursue a dismissal, and the case could go to the European Court of Justice.