By Mark McSherry
Google suffered a major setback on Wednesday when Europe’s second-highest court fined it €4.125 billion for using its Android mobile operating system to thwart rivals.
The decision could offer a precedent for other regulators to step up pressure against the subsidiary of US tech giant Alphabet.
Google had challenged an earlier ruling, but the decision was broadly upheld by the court in Wednesday’s ruling and the fine was only slightly reduced from €4.34 billion.
The EU general court broadly backed the European Commission’s ruling that Google had behaved anti-competitively by requiring that mobile phone manufacturers pre-install Google’s search and chrome apps on handsets as a condition for carrying Google’s Play app store.
Google also imposed restrictions on mobile network operators, it was claimed.
“The general court largely confirms the commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile devices and mobile network operators in order to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine,” the court said.
“In order better to reflect the gravity and duration of the infringement, the General Court considers it appropriate however to impose a fine of 4.125 billion euros on Google, its reasoning differing in certain respects from that of the Commission.”
A Google spokesperson said: “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.”