Saturday, 20 January, 2018

Google Slapped With Record Antitrust Fine Over Shopping Feature

Laurie Berry | 28 June, 2017, 22:58

Google has been slapped with a record-breaking $2.7 billion fine by the European Commission for abusing its dominance of the search engine market in building its online shopping service.

KitGuru Says: I have never fully understood the objection the EC has had to Google's shopping/price comparison search engine.

It gave the U.S. company 90 days to stop or face fines of up to 5 per cent of the average daily worldwide turnover of parent company Alphabet.

Silicon Valley may have been dealt a serious blow by the European Commission's decision to serve Google a historic $2.7 billion antitrust fine. European regulators say they have seen evidence that Google has demoted other comparison-shopping services, and "that even the most highly ranked rival service appears on average only on page four of Google's search results". "It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate", Vestager said in a statement.

This is the largest antitrust fine handed out by the European Commission to date, even beating out the €1.06 billion fine given to Intel, which is now going through a long appeals process.

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The fine follows an extensive seven-year investigation into allegations that Google took advantage of its internet search monopoly to thwart smaller rivals.

The ruling also opens the possibility of further legal action against Google by competitors claiming to have been injured by the Internet giant's business practices. Google's parent, Alphabet, reported over $26 billion in revenue in Q4 2016, with Google driving the majority of Alphabet's revenue. However, the fine is not expected to have much impact on Alphabet, whose revenue totalled about €64.8 billion past year.

In a description of Google's strategy for its comparison shopping service, the EC says that Google's flagship product is the Google search engine and that nearly 90% of Google's revenues stem from adverts, such as those it shows consumers in response to a search query. Facebook was fined roughly $122 million by the European Union in May for misleading regulators during the review process of its WhatsApp acquisition.

Google responded by saying it "respectfully disagrees" with the EU's conclusions and could challenge the decision in court.

According to reports the European Union enforcer has also charged Google with using its Android mobile operating system to crush rivals - a case which could be the most damaging for the company, with the system used in most smartphones.

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