Google, Google Cloud

Google, the primary subsidiary of parent Alphabet, is facing three outstanding(and far from over..) antitrust charges from the European Commission. The charges all stem from the alleged abuse of the dominant Android operating system to block competitors by pre-loading their own content and apps. But the tech behemoth has now been given yet another extension — its fourth — to respond to the allegations.

According to the commission, Google has allegedly abused its power and lapsed on three fronts, including the strong demand for smartphone makers to pre-install Google Search(also facing backlash for same in Russia) and Chrome browser; favoring its own comparison-shopping service in the search results; and preventing publishers from displaying ads from other ad platforms.

With respect to the same, the EU watchdogs had initially set the deadline to submit a formal response for sometime in April, followed by July 27th. But fast-forward about six months, the deadline has already been extended thrice at the Google’s request. And it now seems that the company is working on a solid plea to save its skin and has, thus, asked for another extension. The commission has politely obliged and granted another extension(but could this be the final one!?)

The new deadline set to file its rebuttal against the alleged charges has now been extended till the end of the month of October i.e the 31st, reports Reuters. This is the final date for the alleged Android case, while the deadline for the shopping and adsense charges have been set at Oct. 13 and Oct. 26 respectively.

Commenting on the extension request by Google, Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said in an email,

In each of these cases, Google asked for additional time to review the documents in the case file. In line with normal practice, the Commission analyzed the reasons for the request and granted an extension allowing Google to fully exercise its rights of defence.

For those unknown with all the facts, let’s take a microscopic look at the current state of the antitrust charges. The European Commission started looking into the tech behemoth stating that the magnitude of use of its own services in Android-powered smartphones and its dominance over major services was hurting the local rivals. It also believed that Google was strong-arming manufacturers to pre-load its apps onto smartphones, thus forcing their services onto users.

It, thus, probed more deeper into the company practices and allegedly accused the company of manipulating search results to favor itself over competitions and impede fair trade. The Commission has since then kept a vigilant eye on the operations of the company. And to break its monopoly is now looking to impose an even heftier(> $3.4 billion) on the search giant.

According to leaked documents, the commission plans to impose fine at a level “which will be sufficient to ensure deterrence.” If Google is found guilty of all aforementioned charges, then they could be fined about 10 per cent of its annual global revenue, or as much as $7.5 billion based on its 2015 revenue. It could also additionally charge the company for the shooping results probe, say the reports.

The commission is also planning to break all smartphone manufacturers free of the ‘anti-fragmentation’ agreements which prevent them from using non-Google version of the OS. This judgement will also not allow Google to ‘threaten’ the device makers to follow their previously signed aggreements. The commision will also instruct the search giant to remove biased search results and rank their shopping results the same way it treats results from other srevices.

Even if the commision announces its final decision including the size of fine(which the search giant needs to fess up), Google could still appeal the decision and continue by presenting more evidence of their innocence. So, in short, the tug of war between Google and the European Commission is far from over.

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