EU upholds Google’s €4.1 billion fine for bundling search with Android

The logo for the board game Monopoly, complete with Uncle Pennybags, has been transformed to say Google.

Enlarge / Let’s see, you landed on my “Google Ads” space, and with three houses… that will be $1,400. (credit: Ron Amadeo / Hasbro)

Google has lost its latest battle with European Union regulators. This morning, the EU General Court upheld Google’s record fine for bundling Google Search and Chrome with Android. The initial ruling was reached in July 2018 with a €4.34 billion fine attached, and while that number has been knocked down to €4.125 billion ($4.13 billion), it’s still the EU’s biggest fine ever.

The EU takes issue with the way Google licenses Android and associated Google apps like the Play Store to manufacturers. The Play Store and Google Play Services are needed to build a competitive smartphone, but getting them from Google requires signing a number of contracts that the EU says stifles competition.

The Commission zeroed in on three unlawful restrictions. First, Google bundles Google Chrome and Search with Android. The company requires Android manufacturers to sign a “Mobile Application Distribution Agreement” (MADA) contract, which says that manufacturers that want to include one Google product must include a large collection of them and make Google the default. There are even requirements for where icons and widgets should be placed.

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