31 votes

Google hit with 4.3bn euro Android fine from EU

30 comments

  1. kiyoshigawa
    Link
    This is a good move by the EU. I honestly hope that we see more massive fines like this for large corporations violating the law. Small fines don't deter the bad behavior, and companies like...

    This is a good move by the EU. I honestly hope that we see more massive fines like this for large corporations violating the law. Small fines don't deter the bad behavior, and companies like google have such mind-bogglingly large amounts of money they can shrug off anything less than a significant portion of their yearly revenue.

    The EU has been fair in giving Google 2 years to correct this, and since Google hasn't fixed their issues this fine is warranted. Big multi-national corporations are still beholden to the law, and to the people, and if they refuse to comply because they can afford it, they should be adequately punished, or eventually dissolved for the good of all. I hope that other monopolies are similarly fined in the future for violations of anti-trust laws, and that more laws protecting the consumers, instead of corporate interests, are passed.

    20 votes
  2. [4]
    nil-admirari
    Link

    The commission subsequently made three specific allegations of anti-competitive behaviour, saying Google was:

    requiring Android handset and tablet manufacturers to set its search engine as the default and pre-install the Chrome browser before allowing them to offer access to its Play app store

    preventing manufacturers from selling mobile devices powered by rival operating systems based on Android's open source code

    giving device manufacturers and mobile networks financial incentives to provide its own search service as the sole pre-installed option

    14 votes
    1. [3]
      teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      Why even make it open source FOSS if that's your plan?

      preventing manufacturers from selling mobile devices powered by rival operating systems based on Android's open source code

      Why even make it open source FOSS if that's your plan?

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        talklittle
        Link Parent
        Boards change, CEOs change, shareholders change. The new ones are stuck with past decisions like FOSS licenses.

        Boards change, CEOs change, shareholders change. The new ones are stuck with past decisions like FOSS licenses.

        8 votes
        1. teaearlgraycold
          Link Parent
          Well in that case I'm glad they have that burden.

          Well in that case I'm glad they have that burden.

          4 votes
  3. [21]
    apoctr
    (edited )
    Link
    I don't really like Google, and while they're kinda jerky about Android there's not much here to reasonably warrant the fine in my opinion. Does this not contradict her own claim? To my...

    I don't really like Google, and while they're kinda jerky about Android there's not much here to reasonably warrant the fine in my opinion.

    And she suggested the ruling could lead manufacturers to sell smart devices using different versions of the Android operating system to Google's, such as Amazon's Fire OS, which she said they had been prevented from doing.

    Does this not contradict her own claim? To my understanding you can use any modified version of Android you want. However if you want to use Google Play Store you must agree to some conditions, such as pre-installing Chrome. Deny this and that's fine, you end up like FireOS. Google shouldn't be forced to allow anyone access to their Play Store IMO. It's their product, not directly linked to Android, and can be replaced.

    it required Android handset and tablet manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and its own web browser Chrome as a condition for allowing them to offer access to its Play app store

    What is the problem exactly? Apps being preinstalled doesn't mean you have to use them. You can also install fully alternative browsers, for example, something impossible on iOS (all must use their engine). Removal of apps can be done easily with root or even via flashing alternative ROMs, something actively made harder by manufacturers, not Google.

    it made payments to large manufacturers and mobile network operators that agreed to exclusively pre-install the Google Search app on their devices

    That does sound dodgy, although IMO doesn't warrant such a hefty fine.

    it prevented manufacturers from selling any smart devices powered by alternative "forked" versions of Android by threatening to refuse them permission to pre-install its apps

    Something I am also fine with. Alternatives exist. These apps don't need to be preinstalled, and looks like they can be installed manually by users.

    Edit:

    she said that only 1% of users downloaded a competing search app, and 10% a different browser.

    "Once you have it, it is working, very few are curious enough to look for another search app or browser," she said.

    So...what's Google to do? Actively, by her own measure, harm their browser's success by picking another default browser? Not allow any browser to be pre-installed by default? Funnily enough Apple hasn't come under the same pressure here.

    People's lack of curiosity isn't Google's problem. Most people actively seek out Chrome anyhow - it's not default on Windows or MacOS, yet it's the most used...

    8 votes
    1. [3]
      talklittle
      Link Parent
      No. Amazon does not sell Amazon devices with Google software (Play Store, Gmail, etc.). As I read it, Google has formed contracts with manufacturers saying "if you want to sell any devices...

      Does this not contradict her own claim?

      No. Amazon does not sell Amazon devices with Google software (Play Store, Gmail, etc.).

      As I read it, Google has formed contracts with manufacturers saying "if you want to sell any devices pre-installed with Google software, you may not sell any other devices with non-Google OSes."

      10 votes
      1. [3]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. [2]
          talklittle
          Link Parent
          That's not the point of the ruling. The point is Google are prohibiting manufacturers from installing them. Also it's not nearly as trivial as you are making it out to be, to root your device and...

          That's not the point of the ruling. The point is Google are prohibiting manufacturers from installing them.

          Also it's not nearly as trivial as you are making it out to be, to root your device and install an alternative OS, for the average smartphone consumer.

          12 votes
          1. [2]
            Comment deleted by author
            Link Parent
            1. talklittle
              Link Parent
              Within the law of the jurisdictions where they operate.

              Should Google not be allowed to set conditions on the use of their applications?

              Within the law of the jurisdictions where they operate.

              10 votes
    2. [17]
      microbug
      Link Parent
      The problem is that preinstalling apps is anticompetitive. See: Microsoft's behaviour with Netscape in the 90s. Microsoft had to actively ask users which browser they wanted to use after a new...

      What is the problem exactly? Apps being preinstalled doesn't mean you have to use them.

      The problem is that preinstalling apps is anticompetitive. See: Microsoft's behaviour with Netscape in the 90s. Microsoft had to actively ask users which browser they wanted to use after a new Windows installation for a few years as a result of the legal action brought against them.

      7 votes
      1. [16]
        apoctr
        Link Parent
        But you need some apps to be preinstalled... An OS without a browser would use useless. And it would be stupid for them to not make that preinstalled browser Chrome.

        But you need some apps to be preinstalled...

        An OS without a browser would use useless. And it would be stupid for them to not make that preinstalled browser Chrome.

        3 votes
        1. [12]
          talklittle
          Link Parent
          If the manufacturer wants to differentiate themselves by installing a different default browser, made by a competing browser company, they can't, because Google is forbidding them from doing so....

          If the manufacturer wants to differentiate themselves by installing a different default browser, made by a competing browser company, they can't, because Google is forbidding them from doing so. To me, this is clearly anticompetitive.

          12 votes
          1. [9]
            JustABanana
            Link Parent
            Well, they can add a different browser but they still need to ship chrome

            Well, they can add a different browser but they still need to ship chrome

            4 votes
            1. [8]
              Jedi
              Link Parent
              Only if they want the Play Store. You can make a phone without Google products.

              Only if they want the Play Store. You can make a phone without Google products.

              4 votes
              1. [7]
                JustABanana
                Link Parent
                You can't. Convince avarage consumer to buy a phone without facebook, discord, instagram, snapchat and others

                You can't. Convince avarage consumer to buy a phone without facebook, discord, instagram, snapchat and others

                4 votes
                1. [6]
                  Jedi
                  Link Parent
                  Download them elsewhere? There are other app stores manufacturers can use if they wanted to. None of them are as good as the Google Play Store, but Google's under no obligation to provide it to them.

                  Download them elsewhere?

                  There are other app stores manufacturers can use if they wanted to. None of them are as good as the Google Play Store, but Google's under no obligation to provide it to them.

                  3 votes
                  1. [5]
                    JustABanana
                    Link Parent
                    You can't use those apps without google play services even if you install them from an apk. They could ship microG but google would just say fuck you and find a way to block microG

                    You can't use those apps without google play services even if you install them from an apk. They could ship microG but google would just say fuck you and find a way to block microG

                    4 votes
                    1. [4]
                      Soptik
                      Link Parent
                      Do you mean snapchat, fb, ... as you said before? Convince avarage consumer to buy a phone without facebook, discord, instagram, snapchat and others You can use these without google play store....

                      You can't use those apps without google play services even if you install them from an apk.

                      Do you mean snapchat, fb, ... as you said before? Convince avarage consumer to buy a phone without facebook, discord, instagram, snapchat and others

                      You can use these without google play store. You don't even need to install it yourself (manually) - for example F-Droid works like a charm.

                      2 votes
                      1. [3]
                        JustABanana
                        Link Parent
                        Yes you can install them but they won't work. At best push notifications won't work and your phone will eat a lot more battery. At worst it won't work at all. From my quick google snapchat won't...

                        Yes you can install them but they won't work. At best push notifications won't work and your phone will eat a lot more battery. At worst it won't work at all. From my quick google snapchat won't let you log in without google play services

                        1 vote
                        1. [2]
                          Soptik
                          Link Parent
                          I'll test which apps depends on google play services, because I'm not sure if, for example, Facebook wants their app to depend on another company. It might take few days, but I'll reply here with...

                          I'll test which apps depends on google play services, because I'm not sure if, for example, Facebook wants their app to depend on another company. It might take few days, but I'll reply here with an update afterwards.

                          And notifications work without google play services (maybe they are disabled because they use data gathered using the services, but you know what I mean).

                          phone will eat a lot more battery

                          That calls for a test :-) I don't really think missing google play services could cause it. They are used to in-app purchases, achievements, leaderboards, ads, etc. Battery isn't affected, just functionality.

                          1. JustABanana
                            Link Parent
                            They are used for push notficiations meaning without gps apps either use websocket's for notifications or get no notifications at all. Try installing discord without GPS. It won't work

                            They are used for push notficiations meaning without gps apps either use websocket's for notifications or get no notifications at all.

                            Try installing discord without GPS. It won't work

                            1 vote
          2. [3]
            Comment deleted by author
            Link Parent
            1. [2]
              talklittle
              Link Parent
              This implies changing the law, which is a bit of moving of the goalposts on your part. Originally you made it sound like the ruling was flawed, but now saying you don't agree with the underlying...

              Do I think it should be illegal? No.

              This implies changing the law, which is a bit of moving of the goalposts on your part. Originally you made it sound like the ruling was flawed, but now saying you don't agree with the underlying law. That would be a completely different conversation then, based on philosophy instead of existing laws.

              5 votes
              1. JustABanana
                Link Parent
                Offtopic but aren't you the dev of reddit is fun app?

                Offtopic but aren't you the dev of reddit is fun app?

        2. [3]
          kiyoshigawa
          Link Parent
          One of the primary violations is not that Chrome comes bundled with android phones. It is that Google doesn't allow use of the play store unless Chrome and google search were installed on the...

          One of the primary violations is not that Chrome comes bundled with android phones. It is that Google doesn't allow use of the play store unless Chrome and google search were installed on the phone. They also contractually forbid alternatives from being installed by manufacturers. If they had allowed phone manufacturers to install whatever browser and search engine they wanted and still allowed them use of the play store, this fine wouldn't be happening.

          Google even bought (for $3 Billion USD per year) the rights to have their search engine be the default on iPhones, which is the only thing resembling competition to Android (by marketshare). Their behavior is exceptionally anti-competitive, and their position as a monopoly is why they can get away with it. They were given 2 years to fix these practices, and instead chose not to comply. The fine is justified.

          9 votes
          1. [3]
            Comment deleted by author
            Link Parent
            1. kiyoshigawa
              Link Parent
              The play store is the ubiquitous gateway to downloading and installing all the other apps people are familiar with. I'd never heard of Aptoide before your post, so I will need to look into that,...

              Why should Google be forced to allow manufacturers to use the play store, though?

              The play store is the ubiquitous gateway to downloading and installing all the other apps people are familiar with. I'd never heard of Aptoide before your post, so I will need to look into that, but F-Droid only supports Open Source Software if I remember right, and not all the apps people are used to being able to find like Angry Birds or Candy crush, which makes it not equivalent.

              Android as an OS also doesn't allow installation of manual apk files without enabling it in the settings, so bypassing the store entirely is also beyond the reach of an average phone user who, for the most part, uses whatever default buttons are on the home screen when they buy the phone.

              Is a default search engine really anti-competitive? Those who care will always change the search engine, those who don't aren't interested in using the competition.

              Most phone users won't even realize that the decision was made for them. If there's a default search, they'll use that and think it's just part of the phone. Users who are technical enough to realize google is being used when they'd rather use duckduckgo or bing are likely capable of changing the defaults, I agree. The average phone user, my parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc., would never even realize that a choice had been made on their behalf when they bought the phone.

              This is similar to the anti-trust suits against Microsoft back when Internet Explorer was the default installed browser on Windows. Most people using the OS would never even realize they had another option, they just clicked in the 'blue e' to get to the internet. The EU required Microsoft to offer the option of alternatives to IE when installing windows on your first login as a solution.

              The ruling in this case wasn't even as strict towards google as the microsoft ruling previously. They only want to allow phone sellers to select search engines and browsers independently from google's contractual requirements and use the play store as well. That would allow phone providers to offer options to people, without dictating what those options are. They could even select google search and chrome if they wanted to.

              3 votes
            2. hungariantoast
              Link Parent
              Regardless of your opinions on ownership of the Google Play store and Google's right to withhold access to that platform from other manufacturers, the base point is that it's extremely...

              it required Android handset and tablet manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and its own web browser Chrome as a condition for allowing them to offer access to its Play app store

              Regardless of your opinions on ownership of the Google Play store and Google's right to withhold access to that platform from other manufacturers, the base point is that it's extremely anti-competitive and anti-consumer to force device manufacturers to install Search and Chrome just to be allowed access to the Play Store.

              No one is forcing Google to give access to the Play Store to manufacturers, but this fine is being levied to make it known that forcing their products onto manufacturers in conjunction with an absolutely vital app market is not going to be tolerated, and that's a good thing.

              Also, just because Google owns the Play Store, doesn't mean they have the right to do whatever they want with it. Laws against anti-competitive and monopolistic practices exist for this reason.

              As a side note, Google's "money maker" isn't Android hardware, it's the software it runs on. They want to force their ecosystem into the hands of as many people as possible, to collect as much data as possible, to make as much money as possible.

              3 votes
  4. [3]
    JustABanana
    Link
    Some people don't know that most apps on android won't run without google play services which can't be shipped without bundling chrome, google as default search and a whole lots of other google apps

    Some people don't know that most apps on android won't run without google play services which can't be shipped without bundling chrome, google as default search and a whole lots of other google apps

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      Soptik
      Link Parent
      What prevents me to install LineageOS (without google) and than some random application from either apk or another app store (like F-Droid)? The only time when app relies on Google is when the...

      Most apps on android

      What prevents me to install LineageOS (without google) and than some random application from either apk or another app store (like F-Droid)? The only time when app relies on Google is when the application programmer uses specifically google services and the app relies on it.

      Without bundling Chrome

      Chrome is not necessary. It's just default browser on some phones. My Samsung came without chrome. I installed it and some time later I uninstalled it because I liked Firefox more. Uninstalling chrome didn't prevent me from downloading or using any apps.

      2 votes
      1. JustABanana
        Link Parent
        Well yes, but most apps outside off fdroid depend on it. Go try looking at any app on yalp store. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and most other apps average consumers use need it. You cannot make a...

        Well yes, but most apps outside off fdroid depend on it. Go try looking at any app on yalp store. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and most other apps average consumers use need it. You cannot make a phone for an avarage joe without gplay services

        2 votes