back to article Fork it! Google fined €4.34bn over Android, has 90 days to behave

What convinced the European Commission that it had a Microsoft-scale competition problem on its hands with Google isn't a mystery. Google engaged in a carbon copy of '90s Microsoft-style tactics. Google leveraged its platform dominance in Android to promote its own services and apps, at the expense of third-party services, the …

  1. Lee D Silver badge

    "the requirement to preinstall Google Search and Chrome"

    - Yep, no need to force this on people. However, can we please learn that you need to be able to REMOVE THE JUNK THAT THEY PREINSTALL. Whoever "they" are. This will mean a lot of "Samsung Internet Browsers" being installed, fine, activated by default, fine, but it will also mean that they'll make it a pain in the butt (or even impossible) to remove them and JUST have Chrome even if that's what the user wants.

    "payments to phone makers to make Google Search the default"

    - Not sure how this hurts, as such, as surely other people could pay those makers to be the default? So long as it's changeable? Is this any different to Apple being paid to direct people to Google? That could hurt if that went to court based on this case.

    "and restrictions on creating "forks" of Android."

    - Yep, no need for this, they just can't call it an Android phone etc.

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      You can't fork Android

      You can fork a small part of it but most of Android is the Google Play Services which is a large closed source binary blob

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: You can't fork Android

        And probably always will be.

        I don't think this case will change that, no different to expecting Steam to open up their source code.

        What they are arguing is that you can't FORCE people to use Google Play in order to use Android.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. John Lilburne Silver badge

        Re: You can't fork Android

        I don't want any Google shite apps on the phone. I have an old S3 which has crap like Google Play Books, Google Play Newsstand, Google+, gmail, etc. I'm never going to use any of that stuff so why should it be there taking up memory? I want rid of it. For several weeks the phone kept wanting to download some update and constantly failing. Today apparently its no longer doing that maybe it eventually managed to do the update I don't care I just wanted it not to do it anyway.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You can't fork Android

          I don't want any Google shite apps on the phone. I have an old S3 which has crap like Google Play Books, Google Play Newsstand, Google+, gmail, etc. I'm never going to use any of that stuff so why should it be there taking up memory? I want rid of it.

          So disable the apps you don't plan to use and remove them from your homescreen; problem solved. You don't get the storage space back, but you knew that a portion of your storage would be used by vendor apps and firmware when you bought the phone. If you're that short on storage that the amount taken up by a few Google apps would even be noticeable, then you're screwed anyway, if not now then soon.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: You can't fork Android

            If you're that short on storage that the amount taken up by a few Google apps would even be noticeable, then you're screwed anyway, if not now then soon.

            One problem is it can bloat over time. Samsung phones were famous for this for a while -- each OTA update would add another layer, until the bloatware pre-installed apps had crowded out everything else.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You can't fork Android

            So disable the apps you don't plan to use and remove them from your homescreen; problem solved.

            Not all bloatware system app can be disable and not all bloatware system app remain disabled. Some re-enable itself after reboot, other re-enable itself the second you disable it.

            For a lot of those devices, the problem is never solved.

        2. stechfreak

          Re: You can't fork Android

          You can disable all those apps, fairly easily.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: You can't fork Android

            You can disable all those apps, fairly easily.

            Disable, yes. But that just removes the icon. They're still in there, taking up space, and still getting updates.

        3. Macka

          Re: You can't fork Android

          "I don't want any Google shite apps on the phone"

          I have the opposite problem. I've a Samsung S6 Edge and they are constantly installing/updating Samsung versions of Google apps that I don't want and can't get rid of. Sick to death of it. Samsung make excellent hardware, but I won't buy them again because of this experience. That and the OS updates have dried up. I'm hanging on till October and am looking forward to a native Android experience on a Pixel 3.

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: You can't fork Android

            "looking forward to a native Android experience on a Pixel 3"

            So time to reward Google for their practices?

            I'm staying away from Google hardware after the Nexus 7 went bad so fast.

            1. Patrician

              Re: You can't fork Android

              It's not a case of "rewarding Google for their practices" as the Pixel 3 will be a Google product so I would expect it to have Google apps as defaults.

              Samsung set their apps to be default so why not expect Google to do the same on their own hardware?

              "Nexus 7 went bad so fast"

              Which model of Nexus 7? I have a 2013 model that is still in daily use; I've had to replace the battery two years ago but it's still working fine.

      3. Pat 11

        Re: You can't fork Android

        There are versions using micro GMS which replaces all calls to Play Services. What you're left with is less swish, but it works.

      4. BillG Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: You can't fork Android

        I only buy Android devices I can root. Once rooted I uninstall the bloatware, and install a strong firewall I like.

        If I can't root it, I won't buy it.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: You can't fork Android

          And if you look at the latest OS, you'll see that even root is no longer powerful enough.

          For example, my app needs to turn on cell data and GPS to communicate with my garage door and find out if it's close enough to open the door.

          In Marshmallow, I can do that. In Android Oreo and P, I can't.

        2. xanda
          Holmes

          Re: You can't fork Android

          "...If I can't root it, I won't buy it."

          Sounds like a good plan until you realise that this is the mobile equivalent of asking the Hatton Garden gang to hold onto your spare house keys while you're away.

          There isn't a root tool on the planet that meets even the most basic notions of security or propriety - not the last time we looked anyway. The fact they exist at all is testament to how broken this industry really is.

          The one question we've always pondered is why the mobile makers never learned from the Microsoft debacle of yesteryear: OEMs could have clubbed together - either to force MS to back-off (easier) or, even better, produced a quality alternative to Win (only a bit less easy). In the case of Android both opportunities were achievable from the start. Unfortunately they were squandered and lost finally when CyanogenMod bit the dust.

          The result? Poor customer experience, bad vendor faith at every level and literally tons of landfill.

        3. DCdave
          Facepalm

          Re: You can't fork Android

          /I only buy Android devices I can root./

          And having secured your phone properly, you are often rewarded by your bank and media companies telling you their app won't run on your phone because it's "not secure".

    2. eldakka Silver badge

      "payments to phone makers to make Google Search the default"

      - Not sure how this hurts, as such, as surely other people could pay those makers to be the default? So long as it's changeable? Is this any different to Apple being paid to direct people to Google? That could hurt if that went to court based on this case.

      Corporation undertakes behaviour A, perfectly legal.

      Corporation becomes a monopoly, same behaviour A is now no longer legal.

      When you become a monopoly, many behaviours that you may have engaged in previously, or that other corporations currently engage in, become illegal for you to engage in now, but those other non-monopolies can continue to engage in those behaviours now forbidden to you.

      So as a monopoly provider of phone operating systems, it is illegal for Google to pay handset makers to make Google search their default search. However, since say Microsoft, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo are not monopoly phone operating system providers, and also are not monopoly search providers, it would be perfectly legal for them to pay handset providers to set their search engines as default.

      I'm not sure why people seem to have difficulty with this concept as it's brought up frequently whenever a company gets fined for anti-trust for doing what seems reasonable or that other companies are doing. It's perfectly straightforward: Once you become a monopoly the rules change, your behaviours become more constrained than when you aren't a monopoly.

      1. Astara

        ....we are approaching a time of living in "interesting times"

        Except that within the smart-phone eco system, you have apple and....?

        Then came google...that created an android smart phone -- except the bad thing they did was make it cheap enough for the masses. There wasn't an android market before they created it. Now others demands a piece of the pie. Why didn't they do this with apple? Apple never opened up their iphone -- still hasn't. Only reason google got hit, is that it made enough for many phone makes to get involved. If it hadn't created competition among phone makers to create android phones it never would have gotten in trouble.

        They should have contracted with 'one' no-name phone maker and called it the google-phone. They might have to charge 10x (apple-like) prices for having no competition among the phone makers, but then no one would have sued them to open up their phone to 3rd competition on every nut+bolt.

        It's also different from MS -- in that MS created the platform+OS 0-- then locked people out of providing competing programs for that platform, where it was clear that those apps were independent of the OS.

        But in google's case, there was no way to market their product -- the search engine unless they first invented the platform to carry it. I.e the app (search) was the motivator for creation. So, now google should walk away from the platform with their app -- since they no longer have a way to ensure their app is on their platform -- they should toss the platform out to everyone and create a locked up phone like apple where only google apps would play.

        With MS -- they couldn't walk away from the OS -- it was the only thing they had.

        This is very backwards in so many ways.

        Looks like it is war again -- commercial war -- the right of the Yankees to sell their goods w/o restrictions. Lets see how that turns out, since capitalism competes at the lowest common denominator level -- of course the citizens of the US will have to get used to poverty and income like china had 25 yrs ago...but what could go wrong w/that plan???

        Can the US-elites maintain control over the populace AND control world markets?... history says not...so what will play out?.... ...

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: ....we are approaching a time of living in "interesting times"

          it is antitrust becasue apple wont let anyone else make an apple phone. google will but lock the manufacturer out of creating forked android without penalties.

          before android there was apple, treoOS, balckberry, windows mobile, nokiaos etc.

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: ....we are approaching a time of living in "interesting times"

            "it is antitrust becasue apple wont let anyone else make an apple phone"

            Huh? Is Mercedes "antitrust" because they won't let anyone else make Mercs?

          2. John Lilburne Silver badge

            apple wont let anyone else make an apple phone.

            Yeah and Ford will let anyone else make a Ford car, and I don't recall seeing a Bosch washing machine not made by Bosch, etc.

        2. RRJ

          Re: ....we are approaching a time of living in "interesting times"

          Think your right.. Google should drop Android.. then all the folk who whinge about it can go to Apple.. let’s see if this is better for them.. I guess will still whinge… The point is, Google made Android but did not force all the phone makers to use it.. it’s the makers choice…

          The EU is just trying to prop up the failed system with funds, its time they went the way of the Dodo... and stop interfering with our lives..

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: ....we are approaching a time of living in "interesting times"

            Just let the legal professionals do their jobs, and you use whatever phone you are a fanboy of.

            The less you worry about it, the better for everyone.

      2. tim 13

        But Goolge, while the biggest, aren't a monopoly in anything

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not content with breaking the web

      They now want to break our phones.

      EU brown envolpes from Microsoft, Nokia (Microsoft), Oracle

      1. Fursty Ferret

        Re: Not content with breaking the web

        Ah, the Brexit brigade out again.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not content with breaking the web

        @AC; "EU brown envolpes from Microsoft, Nokia (Microsoft), Oracle"

        I don't want to give the impression that I'm legitimising your paranoid rantings by taking them seriously. However, Microsoft never bought Nokia itself, only their former mobile phone division. On top of this, they've since sold off their right to use the brand on mobile phones anyway.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > "And Google technology is far more pervasive than Microsoft's ever was."

      Is this a joke? M$ is everywhere on desktop and enterprise companies.

      99% of white colour workers are forced to use Windows PCs. And Windows 10 slurps lot's of private company (and private) data to centralized servers in the US.

      Whereas as a private user, you have the choice to use Apple Macs and iPhone/iPads, or Android devices without PlayStore (from China/Russia/etc) or Linux devices. And you have the choice to not use Google search and rely on DDG/Yandex/Baido/etc.

      And people have way more "private" data like money records and real documents on PCs, than on smartphones - where only the photos are stored. So Windows 10 and M$ are a way bigger deal to suffer for European users than anything Android does. And with Android you can deactivate the tracking and spying, with Windows 10 you can't. So let's hope M$ gets a very big fine too!

      1. Daleos

        Re: > "And Google technology is far more pervasive than Microsoft's ever was."

        Apple is the one that gets away with it the most. When it's Apple is only allowing it's own apps it's an 'ecosystem' When anyone else gets close to being dominant, they get thumped down.

        1. MichaelLoucks

          Re: > "And Google technology is far more pervasive than Microsoft's ever was."

          Apple has a tiny marketshare compared to Android (phones) or Windows (computers). They aren't even close to a plurality, let alone a monopoly. Competition laws are different when you aren't the monopoly company.

        2. Neon Teepee
          Linux

          Re: > "And Google technology is far more pervasive than Microsoft's ever was."

          Apple doesn't interact with handset designers/manufacturers, it designs and manufactures it's own iThingies, uses all of its own closed source code (well mostly), sells through its own stores and website and runs its own app store so yes it is in fact a totally closed ecosystem. I despise Apple and their practices but I don't think you can put this in the same basket.

      2. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: > "And Google technology is far more pervasive than Microsoft's ever was."

        > 99% of white colour workers are

        OK, is this a racist rant, or did you mean white collar workers?

        I can't tell from the rest of your uninformed article as it works either way...

        1. Michael Habel Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: > "And Google technology is far more pervasive than Microsoft's ever was."

          I thought it was ok to hate on the so called CIS White Male what with all that privilege, and sheet.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: > "And Google technology is far more pervasive than Microsoft's ever was."

          > white collar

          Yes, I meant white collar worker.

          Crazy one gets 40 downvotes. Something is wrong these days

          My comment was about tech, not ethnics. But a typical move to derail a discussion - by the playbook.

      3. JLV Silver badge

        Re: > "And Google technology is far more pervasive than Microsoft's ever was."

        >99% of white colour workers

        Darn. Maybe it’s time to find some skin darkener, reverse of Eddie Murphy’s SNL bus sketch.

        MS was a monopoly back in the 90s. But it’s hard to argue that they are that dominant nowadays. Win8 and 10 are not that hot, they exited mobile. The perception is hardly “all MS, all the time”. Businesses could switch. Calling a monopoly is always hard, but MS in ‘18 is less powerful than MS in ‘98.

        I find this article attracts a lot of “what about X” distractions, rather than

        reasoned rebuttal of the EU’s findings.

    5. Unicornpiss Silver badge
      Meh

      My concern..

      ..would be that all the vendors, now having the power to include whatever they want, will actually be 10x worse than just letting Google preinstall its defaults, which while a bit heavy handed, actually work quite well.

      While I do think what Google is doing to phone makers with GMS and their Play store is BS, and I agree with the spirit of the antitrust suit, instead of reasonableness I'm afraid we'll end up with a bunch of bureaucratic solutions that make little sense and do very few any favors, such as the idiotic "Korea Media Player" link that MS was forced to include on the Win 7 'Start' menu to make everyone happy. I wonder if anyone ever bothered to even try that, even in Korea?

    6. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      - Yep, no need to force this on people. However, can we please learn that you need to be able to REMOVE THE JUNK THAT THEY PREINSTALL.

      Exactly this. I actually don't have a problem with a company pre-installing whatever apps they'd like, just as I don't necessarily mind Dell, etc. selling machines with extra shit I don't need. The problem comes down to whether or not I can REMOVE that shit once I get the machine home. On PCs you can (at least for now) unload all those applications you don't want (the MSWin10 built-in "apps" may be significantly harder to forcibly remove, but it *can* be done). Ultimately you could even go so far as to install a base copy of MSWin (not as easy as it used to be, but still doable) or go the smarter route and install Linux (ah, the downvote-bait).

      Now, this should be the same way with Android devices. Let the vendor build the image however they want. But the *REQUIREMENT* should be that ALL apps are uninstallable, ALL preferences should be configurable/customizable. Ideally you should have root-level access available somehow (granted, not automatically active, but available, and accessible without having to grovel for a papal dispensation). But I expect NONE of the parties arguing for OR against restricting Google really want YOU to have the ultimate right to decide.

  2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    She said manufacturers were interested in licensing Amazon's FireOS Android.

    Replace a Google-controlled ecosystem with one controlled by Amazon? Colour me unconvinced…

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      I think the objective — realistic or otherwise — is more to replace an ecosystem controlled by Google with two ecosystems that are only half the size, one controlled by Google and one by Amazon, each working to try to persuade users to switch camps.

    2. Halfmad

      Let's not forget it'd also mean directly competing with Amazons own tablets which are sold through the largest marketplace on the planet, Amazon. Which I'm *sure* won't have any biased selling tactics to minimise your tablet visibility.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Charie Clark "Replace a Google-controlled ecosystem with one controlled by Amazon? Colour me unconvinced…"

      Geez, it's an example FFS, are you a fanboi or just a right Charlie?

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Geez, it's an example FFS, are you a fanboi or just a right Charlie?

        It's a terrible example. A better one might be something like the consortium that bought Here from Nokia, or software houses specialised on AOSP.

        Google might make billions selling what it knows about users to advertisers but Amazon does this by screwing suppliers, employees and the taxpayer wherever it can – okay so they all do that – but there really isn't a lot to like about Amazon outside its digital properties.

    4. JimboSmith Silver badge

      She said manufacturers were interested in licensing Amazon's FireOS Android.

      Replace a Google-controlled ecosystem with one controlled by Amazon? Colour me unconvinced…

      Speaking as someone typing this on a Fire HD8 I cannot but agree with you. Amazon is as bad if not worse than Google with the bloatware and other crap. I have disabled Alexa by turning on the parental controls but the Alexa app still attempts to contact Amazon. I've disabled the microphone and covered the cameras so it won't work anyway even if it gets through the NoRoot Firewall. On my phone I realised when this fine was announced I'd never seen an advert and never used Chrome or most of the Google bloatware. Google may be bad but Amazon are a very close second. The GUI on the FireOS is dreadful and I couldn't wait to install Launcher Hijack and Nova.

  3. TimR

    Wow, BREXIT fears are hitting our economy more than I thought

    "...fined Google €4.34bn (£5bn)..."

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Wow, BREXIT fears are hitting our economy more than I thought

      Wait till the Fogg und Mirage Erlass happens in a day or so and it will be correct.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

    As always, the bureaucrats focus on monetary fines.

    A more effective sanction would be to freeze important elements of their commercial activity. For example, work out the penalty, but rather than extract it in cash, impose (for example) a ban on new customer sign up or new product sales to create a similar financial impact. It's much more embarrassing for the offending companies to have sales call centres "frozen", or explaining to prospective customers that they're legally prevented from doing business for a period. Another alternative in this case would be to prohibit commercial data transfers into Google for a given date range, creating a hole in their time series data aggregation (including a ban on "backfilling" the gap in future).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

      "impose (for example) a ban on new customer sign up or new product sales to create a similar financial impact."

      Except for the detail that AFAIK, it would be illegal.

      The law says "apply a fine", so the executive applies a fine. They can't just go around and invent funky, crowd-pleasing new punishments, they really have rules to follow.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

        ... AFAIK, it would be illegal....The law says "apply a fine", so the executive applies a fine. They can't just go around and invent funky, crowd-pleasing new punishments, they really have rules to follow.

        Well, you're wrong. So wrong that I conclude you've not had any engagement with competition law, any relevant education on the matter, nor followed the judgements in many cases. The competition authorities most certainly CAN go round inventing all manner of funky punishments, under the title of "remedies". These can be "structural" such as breaking up a monopoly, or they can be "behavioural" in which case it is a measure imposed to persuade a company to change its ways. And short of corporal and capital punishment, very little is ruled out.

        If the authorities deem any action to be an appropriate means of changing anti-competitive behaviour, they can impose it, or negotiate it under threat of a more conventional but even less welcome alternative. How come MS had to put in a browser choice screen? That was at the time a funky remedy. Ofgem in the UK have done a similar thing by imposing sales ban under the terms of energy supplier licences as punishment for misdemeanours, and whilst that's rather separate from competition law, it shows that the concept of a retributive temporary ban on commercial activity has been used by the state to change behaviour.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

          "The competition authorities most certainly CAN go round inventing all manner of funky punishments, under the title of "remedies"."

          Well, there's clearly a huge misunderstanding here, because for me (and I suspect, for most people), the terms "punishments" and "remedies" are different, and mean different things. Right now, the executive *has* ordered Google to find remedies, and they have to do so under 90 days. More fines might come if they don't comply. That's what they need to do to fix things in the future.

          The punishment, however, is the fine levied for past behaviour, because the past can't be fixed.

          Since you like comparisons, let me try to use one to make it clear: you get a fine as a punishment for your tail light being broken. Replacing the light is not a fine, nor a punishment, it's the remedy to the situation, and what you must do to avoid another fine.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

      You'll note that on top of the $5B fine, Google can additionally be fined millions per day if they don't fix the issue. These kind of fines are plenty effective enough, even for Google.

      1. -tim

        Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

        What would happen if the court required that they issue $5 billion worth of shares at a $0 share value on a given date based on the prior days closing price? I expect our new AI stock market overlords might have something to say about that type of fine that might have company directors looking to keep everything above board.

      2. Public Citizen

        Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

        And if the ongoing fine, which is expressed as a percentage of their daily business [Finally! set dollar amounts are easily factored into the business model and become less painful over time] isn't effective they can just up the percentage of the total business that goes to pay the fines until the company capitulates.

    3. Bavaria Blu

      Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

      Erm, many public services are outsourced to the big American cloud providers. Not much to be gained if cutting off for example Amazon means half the local authorities and Companies House cease to function!

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

      If you compare this fine with the one recently levied in the UK on Facebook I think you'll appreciate that there are differences. Plus, non-compliance will lead to daily fines of up to 5% or global turnover. This is definitely enough to get Google to comply.

      I suspect that, given a choice, many users will happily install and use Chrome, GMail, Google Maps, etc. The comparison with Microsoft and Internet Explorer isn't perfect but still interesting: Microsoft had largely stopped working on the browser and was actively attempting to prevent the development of HTML; even though it's market leader, Google is still actively developing Chrome, which it hopes at some point will become the runtime of choice.

      I also think that Google's own Project Treble may have been designed with this decision in mind: offers users the prospect of receiving updates more timely but also cements the role of Google Play Services even as it makes AOSP more attractive to some manufacturers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

        Plus, non-compliance will lead to daily fines of up to 5% or global turnover. This is definitely enough to get Google to comply.

        Let's see what Google get fined for non compliance - it won't be 5% of turnover per day. Alphabet's liquid assets are about the same as annual turnover of around $110bn, so they'd be bankrupt in less than a month at that rate. I can't see that any developed world court would support that sort of penalty as reasonable. But if the EU actually tried it, how do you think Trump might respond, and do you think that any battle over tech would have a good outcome for the EU?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Ledswinger

          Europe can do as they wish and the US can lump it or retire from the market, same as they do to us.

          It would be nice to see all the slurp money that current goes to the US staying in Europe, especially when it would promote industry and jobs here.

          As to tech battles, they can either make themselves nonstandard for Europe or retain what remains of their captive audience.

          Shame about the UK leaving as we will be stuck between the two and it will be metric and imperial all over again

          1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: @Ledswinger

            "Europe can do as they wish and the US can lump it or retire from the market, same as they do to us."

            Good luck with your European Operating System. Whilst it may not slurp your data to advertisers, it will slurp your data to your political masters, the EU.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Good luck with your European Operating System

              What, you mean Linux? The one that runs most servers, clouds, and enterprise back-ends?

              You do know it came from Europe?

            2. RRJ

              Re: @Ledswinger

              EU OS.. never going to happen.. and even if it did the EU would need a slice for there coffers..

              1. nematoad Silver badge

                Re: @Ledswinger

                "...and even if it did the EU would need a slice for there coffers..."

                There, they're, their. With that choice you have a one in three chance of being right

                Spoiler alert:

                It's their in this case.

            3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: @Ledswinger

              "Good luck with your European Operating System. Whilst it may not slurp your data to advertisers, it will slurp your data to your political masters, the EU."

              They may rail and argue and fight through the courts, but no US multinational already trading in the EU is going to pack up and go home, leaving what is pretty much their biggest single market (bigger than the USA) to the competition who WILL accept the laws and regulations and fill the void. MS broke the law, got fined big time, eventually realised they would have to suck it up and got right back to business. Why would Google or others be different?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Ledswinger

            And not just metric and imperial...

            It was the EEC that imposed a condition of joining that we changed from proper money (pounds, shilling and pence) to a decimal currency in 1971. Once we're free from Brussels we'll be able to change back again.

            Just my 2d ...

            1. RRJ

              Re: @Ledswinger

              Happy days when this happens..

            2. John Lilburne Silver badge

              And not just metric and imperial...

              You've forgotten Groats, Fathings, Crowns, and Guineas.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

          Let's see what Google get fined for non compliance

          I don't think it will get that far. Google has seen this coming and has presumably come up with something that it hopes with satisy the European Commission, and other competition authorities.

          Its dominance in search is not just down to strongarm tactics but also a good product and anticipating market developments, including regulation: Google rolled out well-thought out and reasonably well-made privacy statements and controls years before the shit really hit the fan.

          I'm very wary of the concentration of personal data by all these companies but of the lot, I think Google is the most attuned what regulators want to hear. But I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

            Indeed. They are certainly no ICANN!

    5. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

      So you think EU should hurt anyone selling phones now, instead of just Google?

      Doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

        "So you think EU should hurt anyone selling phones now, instead of just Google?"

        They could if they needed to and for Europe it would be a very good idea considering all the mobile cash staying home and all the instrustries that crop up to service the demand. Add in making their own standards and patents, it isn't that there is a lack of ability in Europe rather that buying in working kit with production capacity in place is cheaper in the short term than doing it themselves.

        The US is attempting to close it's markets for the appearance of financial improvement but that also means it can be done to them in turn.

        What the US sells to Europe can be made and grown in Europe too and if they think they are indispensible then they are wrong. If they try it and leave it too long they loose their market position and then have to play catchup on European standards they didnt get to dictate.

    6. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

      "For example,... impose (for example) a ban on new customer sign up or new product sales to create a similar financial impact."

      Interesting, but why hit consumer choice? Like it or not, most people who buy Android phones a) want an Android phone, and b) don't give a toss about all this stuff. Saying to EU citizens "We have decided that you cannot buy the phone you want for reasons we deem to be important but you don't" would be folly of the highest order.

      I know from your extensive comments that would like to see the EU gone, but it seems two-faced of you to suggest a solution of a type that you would ordinarily criticise the EU for doing (so maybe you have an ulterior motive in this suggestion?)

  5. ida71u

    Need a new calculator as in the person !

    Check your sums, at todays exchange rate €4.34B = £3.875B Not £5B

    or did someone want the $ sign ! Oops a daisy

    1. Azium

      Re: Need a new calculator as in the person !

      I think they accidentally used the GBP-EUR exchange rate for this time next year.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least it's not BING

    Imagine if we'd all been forced to have BING as our default search engine.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: At least it's not BING

      But even if we did I'm sure the world would just keep spinning.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: At least it's not BING

        But even if we did I'm sure the world would just keep spinning.

        It would no longer be spinning round the Sun though, but revolving around microsofts arse, bathing in the occasional pungent fart and frequent blackouts

        ...Sorry, bad humour today.

      2. Unicornpiss Silver badge

        Re: At least it's not BING

        "But even if we did I'm sure the world would just keep spinning."

        Yes, but you wouldn't be able to find a damn thing on it.

    2. John Lilburne Silver badge

      Re: At least it's not BING

      Bing, vs Google -> not much difference.

      1. Patrician

        Re: At least it's not BING

        Actually there is a big difference; Google search works whereas Bing does not!

        1. The Original Steve

          Re: At least it's not BING

          I've found the difference to be marginal personally. Image and video search I find is far superior on Bing, WHILST Google is slight better at Web / text searching.

          Working in a team of geeks, I actually opt for Bing just because everyone else uses Google. A little difference isn't a bad thing.

          Certainly Bing isn't terrible, to the point if you changes the styling and branding I doubt the majority would even notice.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: At least it's not BING

            Google was recently forced to break their image search service by eliminating direct links to images. I now use DuckDuckGo for that.

            1. DropBear Silver badge

              Re: At least it's not BING

              @Orv: just use the View Image script (the second one on that page) with Greasemonkey, and you'll never notice Google isn't the one putting that button where it has always been... ;)

        2. Candy

          Re: At least it's not BING

          If you're finding Google Search significantly better than Bing Search, it's because Google knows more about you than MS in this context.

          As an experiment, I switched my search engine at work to Bing a few years ago and left my personal devices on Google. Within a few weeks, they were pretty comparable and now there's very little difference in the quality of results.

          Maps, on the other hand, is where Google definitely wears the crown. No one else has anywhere near the richness of data (and metadata) that Google Maps has and I don't see that changing in the foreseeable future.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: At least it's not BING

            As an experiment, I switched my search engine at work to Bing a few years ago and left my personal devices on Google. Within a few weeks, they were pretty comparable and now there's very little difference in the quality of results.

            If that's true, then the quality of searches you people look for are pretty linear. Everything Google want to know about a user is for advertisement and product selling. So it is easier to get those type of result after Google knows more about you. Same could go for Bing.

            But if you actually search for technical information, specifications, uncommon parts or something from a specific region or language, you will notice significant margin in the quality of searched results. This is because technical information are different every time (different as in topics / industries / shape and forms ), knowing anything about that user would only make the researches worst by putting irrelevant results, wasting user's time.

            This is why I cycle around 5+ different search engines on varies language. Because when neither Google nor Bing provide the quality of results I need, I can immediately head for the next available alternative hoping for better quality of results.

            1. John Lilburne Silver badge

              Re: At least it's not BING

              Everything Google want to know about a user is for advertisement and product selling.

              Not so they gave up trying to understand the meta content of the web a decade ago. If you look carefully all the search engines now throw up a couple of wikipedia links, and sites they know you've visited in the past. They have also got better at detecting content free spam sites.

              Once you've got past the layout differences the search results are equivalent.

          2. John Lilburne Silver badge

            Re: Maps

            "No one else has anywhere near the richness of data (and metadata) that Google Maps has"

            That will be because they are charging people to put listing there, and scrapping sites like yelp, tripadvisor, and other such databases. Once you get an effective monopoly you can start charging.

            In the early days of GM they scrapped images with geodata from flickr to tart up their map pages. Their streetview pages contain still images, the photographer won't have licensed their images for that. I know because I've found a number of my photos on streetview and there is no way to get Google to remove them. Except by kill the flickr URL and removing metadata. This is one of the reasons why you won't see any of my photographs of Google Images they are robot meta banned from indexing my site.

            Put site:professor-moriarty.com into a GIS and see the difference in a bing images search. Its not perfect theycan still show up if they are linked to from elsewhere on the web.

          3. Patrician

            Re: At least it's not BING

            There is a big difference, try searching both for "exchange 2016 cumulative update"

            Google top link - download page for the CU

            Bing top link - a Microsoft Docs page of Blog posts.

            Okay, just one, not really very big, difference but there are many more where Google finds the page you want whereas Bing does not, well not on the first page anyway.

        3. not_my_real_name

          Re: At least it's not BING

          If I were Google I would threaten to pull out of the EU... There would be riots of angry denizens facing a future of shitty Bing search.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: At least it's not BING

            "If I were Google I would threaten to pull out of the EU... There would be riots of angry denizens facing a future of shitty Bing search."

            Except everyone would just point and laugh at an obvious empty threat because Google are not going to pull out of a market much bigger then the USA.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At least it's not BING

        "Bing, vs Google -> not much difference."

        A lot less irrelevant SEO crap on Bing. And fewer less intrusive advert links.

  7. Khaptain Silver badge

    The Attrition Game

    This is undoubtedly where the game of attrition starts.. and Google are already very experienced....

    Popcorn is necessary in huge buckets, 90 days gives good lawyers a reasonable playing field.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: The Attrition Game

      Google aren't very experience at attrition at all. After the ruling on vertical search they spend a year wasting the Commission's time in offering solutions that clearly took the piss. What happened? That friendly Commissioner who was bending over backwards to help them left, and a new Commission came in that just happened to owe a favour to Axel Springer (for getting Merkel to drop her support for Cameron and back Juncker). And so the pisstaking continued for a few months, and Google got fined €1.5bn. And lost their appeal. So how did that work out?

      What Google need to do is to take regulation seriously and sort their shit out. Otherwise there's a few more areas of dodginess that they might find themselves fined for. And each time they're seen to fail to cooperate with the investigation and then refuse to cooperate with a solution, the penalties will get bigger. Not to mention the PR cost of being seen as a dodgy corporation. Facebook are now having to do TV adverts about how they won't abuse your data anymore - OK it's a lie, but it's also a cost. And regulation may catch up with them yet.

      1. Daggerchild Silver badge

        Re: The Attrition Game

        "they spend a year wasting the Commission's time in offering solutions that clearly took the piss"

        Fun fact: NOBODY knew what an acceptable solution looked like, and only Google was working to find one. It was in all the other parties interests to not agree they found one.

        Can you think of a way of showing a product result, in a generic search (for that product name), that uses all competing product search engines equally, at Googlespeed? No?

        You did? Now consider whether you're just spraying the user's interests around the Internet to anyone who sticks their hands up as a competitor. Free meals!

        Google knowing what the user is asking for, but not being allowed to manifest it, because someone else might know the answer too, will come back again, and again, and again, as technology advances.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: The Attrition Game

          Fun fact: NOBODY knew what an acceptable solution looked like, and only Google was working to find one. It was in all the other parties interests to not agree they found one.

          It's obvious; any solution that does not impose conditions that abuse a monopoly position would be acceptable. So, that means offering Google Play Services to all and sundry, not just those that agree to make Chrome, Google Search, Google Maps, etc the default burned-in un-removable tools, prominently placed on the main screen in specific positions.

          This action by the EU is starting to head in the direction of preventing Google from using Android as a user tracking / monitoring system. And that would be a very good thing.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Attrition Game

            Who will look after us when the idiots in this country have us finally leave the eu... Mogg? hahaha.. *sob*

          2. Daggerchild Silver badge

            Re: The Attrition Game

            "So, that means offering Google Play Services to all and sundry"

            1) If you followed the convo, I was talking about the circumstances of the PREVIOUS fine.

            2) Tell us how you'd do a secure and armoured pipeline of money, data, authentication, and user defence, if other people can replace your parts with cheap stuff that either leaks, siphons off or changes things.

            3) What is so horribly terrible for *hardware* manufactures, that the *default* but *user changeable* search engine is Google? Don't you find that strange?

            Google enforce a default known-secure path from the UI, down to the hardware. Because that's the only way to do it.

            You do not understand what you are asking for.

  8. Simon Ward
    Meh

    Meh ...

    Even if the fine does get paid, which on the face of it seems pretty bloody unlikely, the ultimate winners here are the bottom-feeding leeches in the law firms, not the consumer.

    Was it ever thus ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh ...

      which on the face of it seems pretty bloody unlikely

      I would not take any bets on that. This is not Barroso's "correctly naso-rectally aligned" commission. Once the knitting lady bites, shaking her off is nigh impossible. The only result from fighting the fine will be accumulated interest, fees and potential additional fines for non-compliance and contempt.

      1. David 164 Bronze badge

        Re: Meh ...

        The commission have lost a lot of antitrust court cases over the last few years.

        Google argument here will be simply that the commission didn't look at the whole market and actively ignore iOS and Apple, I suspect they have a very good case of getting this overturn.

        1. eldakka Silver badge

          Re: Meh ...

          Google argument here will be simply that the commission didn't look at the whole market and actively ignore iOS and Apple, I suspect they have a very good case of getting this overturn.

          No they don't.

          iOS is an exclusive operating system to Apple, it is not available for licensing to 3rd parties. So for other companies, the only realistic option is Android. So for the non-Apple handset makers, Android is the monopoly operating system.

        2. ThomH Silver badge

          Re: Meh ... (@David 164)

          From the article, Vestager said:

          [Google] dominates licensable mobile operating systems ("over 95 per cent"), app stores ("over 90 per cent") and mobile search ("over 90 per cent in most European countries").

          iOS is relevant to exactly one of those categories, and 90% is the correct number if you're factoring in iOS. Further:

          The commission objected to three practices in particular: the requirement to preinstall Google Search and Chrome, payments to phone makers to make Google Search the default, and restrictions on creating "forks" of Android.

          ...

          [Vestager] said manufacturers were interested in licensing Amazon's FireOS Android. But by making even one FireOS phone, the OEM would have lost the ability to include Google Play Store on its other devices.

          The allegation is that Google's 90+% of phones mean that the anticompetitive terms it imposes on other companies — e.g. barring them from including Google Play if they offer any product featuring FireOS — is an illegal distortion of the market.

          Do despite the appeal of bad-guys-on-both-sides whataboutism, I really think Apple's contribution has already been factored in here.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: Meh ... (@David 164)

            The major issue they identified was Google leveraging Android to strengthen their dominance of the online search and advertising markets (i.e. where they make all their money) which are markets Apple doesn't even participate in. Not to mention Apple has a minority of the market in the EU and all individual countries. Hard to abuse a monopoly if you don't have one.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google needs to fix Chrome

    There are many reports of Chrome ignoring the settings in the 'hosts' file. We know that MS does this and I hate it.

    but they think that they are above the EU Law and carry on regardless.

    Boycott Google and everything it is asscociated with.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google needs to fix Chrome

      "There are many reports of Chrome ignoring the settings in the 'hosts' file. We know that MS does this and I hate it."

      I don't have any problems with the hosts files.

      There are a few things to consider when using the hosts file:

      #In some OS versions you need to change how DNS is resolved, in Windows 7 the default hosts file mentions this and the "127.0.0.1 localhost" is commented out.

      #Some antivirus programs will flag any changes to the hosts file and so the host file needs to be whitelisted.

      #You may want to also consider adding an entry for IPV6 as well such as:

      "::1 localhost"

      "::1 twitterface.com"

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: Google needs to fix Chrome

        The hosts file has long been low-hanging fruit for malware to intercept network traffic. I'm not exactly shocked that it's being locked down. I know a lot of people have been using it as a cheap and cheerful way to blacklist sites but there are other ways.

  10. Neil 44

    Choice on Apple?

    Not ever having owned one, do you get a choice of browser / search engine / .... at first use time on Apple devices?

    Are they next in EU's sights? I suspect they should be...

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: Choice on Apple?

      Apple do their own phones, they can apparently do what they like there. The issue with Google is that they are forcing other companies to do what they want.

      1. David 164 Bronze badge

        Re: Choice on Apple?

        So google could just say they will stop updating android, lock down the code, encrypt it and no longer issue any new updates to non google made phones.

        That the nuclear option for google and a pretty frightening one for all of the smaller OEMs, it would likely reduce competition down to just Apple, Google, and well Samsung, once they played catch up building their own OS or work on learning how to continually evolve a fork version of Android on their own without google support and infrastructure.

        A whole host of mobile phone manufacturers would likely go bankrupt within months or withdraw from the mobile market.

        So instead of increasing competition the EU would have decimated!

        Anyway I think the commission completely ignoring apple in the market will be shown as illegal in a court of law and the commission will have to go back and redo all of it work taking Apple into account.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Choice on Apple?

          So you are in favour of letting the bullies win for fear of them hitting you in the face?

        2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Choice on Apple?

          David164,

          So google could just say they will stop updating android, lock down the code, encrypt it and no longer issue any new updates to non google made phones.

          They could. But they won't. Because the reason they abuse their Android monopoly is not because they make a profit out of Android. They still make 95% of their turnover from advertising - Google are a massive ads company - who do a bunch of other stuff in order to sell ads. And I'm sure they'll maintain Android because not only does it push lots of users to Google services (to see more ads) but it also gives them back masses of data on where everyone goes and how fast (for satnav traffic info - and advertising), what they buy, who they talk to and email etc. Android is just a datalogger to improve the accuracy of targetted adverts.

          But if they drop it, then various rivals can come back into the market. Windows Phone was actually quite good by the end, and I'm sure that someone could pick up the Android open source stuff and get working on it. Samsung have Tizen. It would just mean Android stagnating for a couple of years, but what new features does it really need?

        3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Choice on Apple?

          "So google could just say they will stop updating android, lock down the code, encrypt it and no longer issue any new updates to non google made phones."

          They could do that with the Play runtime, but everything below that (Android and Linux) is FOSS so they can no more lock it down than I can.

      2. RRJ

        Re: Choice on Apple?

        Google do not force phone makers to use Android... But if they do then that's the price.. its not free.. someone needs to pay..

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Choice on Apple?

      Apple may have massive percent of profits and be perhaps largest single vendor, but aren't they x2 to x5 more expensive and less than 14% of users? So no monopolist.

      Symbian is near zero, also other OS very low and Windows Phone less than 1%?

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Choice on Apple?

        @ Mage

        They are monopolist in terms of user lock in methods - try getting iTunes for android, try auto sync of photos (etc.) you take to iCloud from Android.

        Loads of subtle Apple only lock in methods to stop users straying

        1. ThomH Silver badge

          Re: Choice on Apple? @tiggity

          Competition law protects markets from distortion, for the benefit of consumers.

          So a company with only a small slice of a market can do whatever it wants, because it does not strongly influence market.

          When the company with 90% of a market prevents manufacturers from considering diversification, that's textbook anticompetitive behaviour, and it should be obvious why that's a substantial detriment to consumers.

        2. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Choice on Apple?

          "monopolist in terms of user lock in methods"

          It's not illegal, though nasty. Google though has a market share monopoly.

          The way iTunes works for sellers may be illegal. That's under investigation.

          I do have an iPhone 4S, it's now effectively a dedicated phone & MP3 player.

          Anything that ONLY can use Internet to copy stuff ought to be illegal, but it is legal. I do not rely on ANY vendors "Cloud". I copy via USB or ethernet, do my own backups. Three versions.

        3. Teiwaz Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Choice on Apple?

          They are monopolist in terms of user lock in methods - try getting iTunes for android, try auto sync of photos (etc.) you take to iCloud from Android.

          Maybe, had the iphone inherited the ubiquity they had in the early 00's with the ipod, but they haven't.

          I'd forgotten all about itunes, (I had to send a request for long term storage for the word 'ipod') hard to believe that buggy bloat POS, itunes was every a thing.

          seriously mucked up mentally now, i'll be iwriting, 'i' in ifront of ieverthing for the irest of the iday.

          Icon : sod it, I'm on the sauce (isauce) the rest of the day.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Choice on Apple?

            Icon : sod it, I'm on the sauce (isauce) the rest of the day.

            Should that be spelt iCon?

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Choice on Apple?

        Though Apple are being examined over iTunes Apple store app policy. If you use it you can't distribute your app elsewhere, not even free.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Choice on Apple?

          Apple takes 30%, not 70% - same cut as Google takes.

    3. Neil 44

      Re: Choice on Apple?

      Having done a little research, it looks like:

      Android:

      You can change default search engine

      You can change default browser (and the defaults for most other types of content)

      Yes, you may have the google apps installed, but you're not forced to use them.

      IOS:

      You can change the default search engine

      You CANNOT change the default browser - you can open things in other browsers from Safari, but not you have to initially use Safari to view pages

      Apple are one of the largest single manufacturers of phones - shouldn't it be a level playing field?

      If manufacturers of phones that use Android don't want to use Google Search / Chrome / ... its pretty simple to configure the phone not to use them by default (unless its in their contract to use them - I've never seen the contract!)

      Obviously, all the Android-using phones that are in the supply chain (really anything after design!) won't be compliant with the EU ruling - and many non-Google phones will never get a software upgrade to fix the situation even if Google / Android release it...

  11. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Forking Batteries More Like

    Google leveraged its platform dominance in Android to promote its own services and apps, at the expense of f***ing battery life in my experience.

  12. Mage Silver badge

    GDPR & Privacy

    This is only tip of the iceberg on Google's exploitation of Android users, Chrome, Gmail, Youtube, Gplus, Google Docs, Google Translate, Google Playstore usage, Google Books, Google Art, Hangouts, Groups etc . Also web sites using Google Web server APIs, Fonts and Analytics etc.

    Much much more to come.

    Even reluctant Irish Data Commish considering slapping Facebook.

    It's about time that [primarily USA] corporations discover using the Internet does not mean law doesn't apply: Uber, AirBnB, Amazon, MS, Apple, Oracle, IBM, Adobe, Twitter etc.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Got my daughter a new tablet yesterday

    Have been repeatedly pestered during the setup to sign up for the manufacturers own app to provide very slight benefits on warranty and some very iffy sounding self-cloud storage.

    All for the price of my daughter (who's under 10) name, DOB, contact details, IMEI and GPS info.

    No thanks, oddly enough it's a pain to remove these sorts of apps, it's even built into the damn settings menu.

  14. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Where's my 10 bucks?

    So when that fine gets divvied up across the EU's 500 million (or so) people, there will be a beer or two in it for everyone.

    This level of fine seems ..... fine. After all, the USA fines european companies (BP, Volkswagen, Barclays) billions of dollars - it is only fair that we fine some of theirs back!

    The question then arise: how to spend it?

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: it is only fair that we fine some of theirs back!

      That's not how it works Pete. They're being fined for illegal behaviour not because the USA are a bunch of big meanies!!

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        Re: it is only fair that we fine some of theirs back!

        > They're being fined for illegal behaviour

        As were the european companies. With any global company you can always find some wrongdoing somewhere. The only question is how to deal with it. Whether you try to correct it, mitigate the damage, or just treat it as an opportunity to get some "free" money.

        And fining foreign companies really is free money. It costs the prosecuting country next to nothing and causes them little or no hardship.

        The UK seems to think the ignominy of being found to be breaking the law [ sharp intake of breath! ] is enough - the UK fined Facebook half a mil (how they must be laughing now) - and presumably paid that with Zuckerberg's credit card. And forgot about it just as quickly. But at the $ billion level, the cost becomes noticeable, starts to act as a deterrent for next time and the restitution could actually do some good - and not just with drinks all round.

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: it is only fair that we fine some of theirs back!

          Pete 2

          The UK seems to think the ignominy of being found to be breaking the law [ sharp intake of breath! ] is enough

          Now I know you're American. Such a U.S. view of the English, it's total fiction.

          UK government have no such concept of ignominy, the proof is their response to mass surveillance being found illegal, their response was mostly to try to ignore it, then offer measly rewordings that didn't much change the illegal nature of their intent much at all.

          Sort of like a bank robber going in and offering to rewrite the note demanding money from the safe (after the trial), in the hopes it would no longer count as perpetrating a hold-up and they could walk away with 'the goods'.

        2. nematoad Silver badge

          Re: it is only fair that we fine some of theirs back!

          "the UK fined Facebook half a mil (how they must be laughing now)"

          That was the maximum the ICO were allowed to fine Facebook under the regulations at the time. Now with the GDPR it's a percentage of the offending company's turnover. 5% if my memory serves me correctly.

          So no, it wasn't because the ICO went easy on FB, they had no other choice.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: it is only fair that we fine some of theirs back!

            So why didn't they just wait until the GDPR took effect so they could take advantage?

            1. onefang Silver badge

              Re: it is only fair that we fine some of theirs back!

              "So why didn't they just wait until the GDPR took effect so they could take advantage?"

              Coz GDPR was not in force when the bad things happened. They could only punish Facebook for things that where considered bad at the time, no backdating law.

  15. Mage Silver badge

    FireOS?

    Please NO, nothing from Amazon. Certainly not FireOS. Amazon is a serial killer of competition. See acquisitions since 1998. Amazon should be forced to support DRM free ePub and Adobe DRM ePub on Kindles and Kindle Apps and FireOS. Amazon's aim is to make MS, Google and Apple look like Amateurs. They need broken up and existing laws enforced, not encouraged!

    World's richest man (or close to it) wonders what to do with his money? Pay people properly!

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: FireOS?

      There is the chance that this would erode Amazons grip too.

      At the moment, Amazon is big enough to ignore Google, but other producers are not.

      Cracking Googles stranglehold, may add some benefit to Amazon, but they've been big enough to not be particularly intimidated by Google for some time before bring out their pad, so it's not a sudden release of potential handcuffs for them at all.

      Smaller entities are much more shackled by the current status quo.

  16. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

    EU Highwaymen....

    I cant help but think this is nothing to do with antitrust but about topping up the EU pot of money.

    I don't see the issue in making it part of google play that search maps and whatever else is to be installed. so long as it can be changed and removed if you like....

    The only part I think is totally wrong is that manufacturers cannot use a fork on another handset and be able to have play on another. That is wrong. They stopped car manufacturers limiting sales at dealers to their cars which amounts to the same thing.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: EU Highwaymen....

      "I cant help but think this is nothing to do with antitrust but about topping up the EU pot of money."

      Even what looks like an enormous fine to you is still only a tiny amount in terms of the EU annual budget. Its barely a blip on the radar.

      "The only part I think is totally wrong is that manufacturers cannot use a fork on another handset and be able to have play on another. That is wrong. They stopped car manufacturers limiting sales at dealers to their cars which amounts to the same thing."

      And this is exactly what the fine is about. Google have been told this strong-arming was illegal for years but took no notice. The large fine is based on not just the action, but the duration of the action, after being told they were being naughty boys and girls.

  17. Julian 8

    Can't wait to see the MS fine then.

    They force you to have Edge on your machine and you cannot remove it

    They force you to have Cortana on your machine and you cannot remove it

    They force Cortana to use Bing

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: " Can't wait to see the MS fine then."

      I guess the point is that you don't actually have to use any of the MS bloat to actually get productive functionality out of your machine. I've had my Win10 laptop for 3 years and have never even come close to having had to use either, or the MS (cr)app store.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: " Can't wait to see the MS fine then."

        @ Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

        And on android I have installed FireFox as my browser and use it - so no different to Windows, so fine MS too logic makes sense

        1. Oddlegs

          Re: " Can't wait to see the MS fine then."

          And how did you install Firefox? Through the Google Play Store almost certainly. The point of this is that without access to the play store Android is pretty much useless. Windows* allows you to install apps from a multitude of sources.

          *The exception is Windows S on some tablets but Microsoft doesn't come close to having a monopoly in the tablet OS world

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: " Can't wait to see the MS fine then."

            There are many alternatives to the google play store.

            See: https://www.androidpit.com/best-google-play-store-alternative-app-stores

            and https://fossbytes.com/10-google-play-store-alternatives/ for starters.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: " Can't wait to see the MS fine then."

              Not Google Play Store. Google Play Services. AND there's the whole "untrusted sources" thing, which you can't undo without breaking the device's security, which trips anti-root features increasingly common in apps (if not e-fuses like Knox).

              1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

                Re: " Can't wait to see the MS fine then."

                Not Google Play Store. Google Play Services.

                Wrong. The post I was replying to said this:

                And how did you install Firefox? Through the Google Play Store almost certainly. The point of this is that without access to the play store Android is pretty much useless.

                AND there's the whole "untrusted sources" thing, which you can't undo without breaking the device's security,

                It's just checking one box in settings.

                which trips anti-root features increasingly common in apps

                No it doesn't.

      2. Patrician

        Re: " Can't wait to see the MS fine then."

        You don't have to use chrome or Google Search on your Android phone either; your completely free to use Firefox and Yahoo if you wanted to.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      @Julian 8

      Show us where Microsoft is threatening to withdraw the availability of Windows to any manufacturer that dares to ship a Chromebook and it'll be equivalent behaviour.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: @Julian 8

        Show us where Microsoft is threatening to withdraw the availability of Windows to any manufacturer that dares to ship a Chromebook

        Giants in the Playground (in lingerie)

        Maybe Google is too big to dare crossing, or fear of pushing OEMs to total ChromeOS supply only, or Google has piccies of MS in saucy underwear....

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where's the European competitor ?

    1. Oddlegs

      The wronged parties in this case are phone manufactures. There are several of those in Europe

  19. andy 103
    Stop

    Where does the fine go?

    Serious question - where does the 5 billion go?

    Because on the face of it, it's going from one lot of people who can't be trusted, to another.

    Do the end users actually benefit in any way from this?

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: Where does the fine go?

      Users benefit from more competition generating better products. The point of the fine is not to compensate anybody for anything, it's just to force Google to pay attention.

      1. andy 103

        Re: Where does the fine go?

        "The point of the fine is not to compensate anybody for anything"

        Right, except the money still changes hands. Maybe the primary incentive of issuing the fine was therefore to gain 5 billion? But some people think it's all "for the good of the people". Call me cynical but I think the EU antitrust commision might have given far less of a shit if there was no money involved.

    2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Where does the fine go?

      It's all cyclical. The EU will give this money to poorer EU countries so they can invest in better communications infrastructure, so that the poor countries peoples can then spend their money on nice phones and devices so that they can consume more of the services offered by Google and Facechat and thus increase those companies earnings and profits etc.

      Some of it though might get spent on roads and surveillance and useless shit like that, or maybe some food subsidies for the Moldovan farmers.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Where does the fine go?

      "Do the end users actually benefit in any way from this?"

      At the very least, phone manufactures can sell a choice of Android and non-Android phones, which quite possibly may increase the visibility and development of alternatives.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple

    "She hinted that giving end users a choice in the OBE [out-of-the-box experience] and allowing operators to provide choices might also be effective." - so...how have Apple been able to keep on doing this on OSX (after Microsoft Windows decision with IE) and with iOS (Safari is the only browser preinstalled and there is NO other App store option).

    no-one is forced to buy Android phone. Its not a monopoly - there are other cheap, non android phones. there were even cheap Microsoft phones (but people didn't buy those, they preferred Android).

    This decision is out of touch with consumers. it feels very pro for certain other businesses though

    1. BoldMan

      Re: Apple

      Try reading the article, its not about forcing consumers but about forcing phone manufacturers

    2. ratfox Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Apple

      It's not about forcing users to buy Android phones. It's about forcing phone makers who want to sell Android phones to include Google apps.

      You might say: Nobody would buy Android phones if they didn't contain Google apps! But if so, why does Google force phone makers to include them?

      1. David 164 Bronze badge

        Re: Apple

        to stop the fragmentation of the Android brand. If manufactures don't want to use android they should go and do what google did and build their own OS.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Apple

          If manufactures don't want to use android they should go and do what google did and build their own OS.

          The problem they have with Google is leveraging their dominance in smartphone OSes to further their massive dominance in online search and advertising. What usually triggers these type of actions (especially in the EU which is more aggressive policing it than the US) is that sort of leveraging. Just having a dominant market share isn't a problem if you aren't using it to control other markets.

        2. Orv Silver badge

          Re: Apple

          If manufactures don't want to use android they should go and do what google did and build their own OS.

          Ah, but there's the rub. If they start selling their own OS, they lose access to Google Play services for any Android phones they're continuing to sell. So they have to give up an OS that has >80% market share before they even try to get their own OS off the ground. This had a lot to do with Firefox OS and FireOS dying off. No phone manufacturer could afford to sell phones loaded with those OS's, because they'd effectively lose the ability to sell Android phones.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Apple

            Amazon got away with not using Google Play Services, why can't the other manufacturers cobble their own version? Or do like Blackberry did and make a compatibility layer?

      2. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Apple

        "Nobody would buy Android phones if they didn't contain Google apps!"

        I would. Though I would have some trouble with the lack of an open source Google Daydream replacement, at least until I can get around to writing one.

        1. DropBear Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Apple

          Any kind of VR-related issue, especially if it involves Android, is a veritable dog's dinner these days. Nobody is interested in anything beyond being able to claim that their stuff supports Oculus and Vive, especially if it would involve any actual work. There is no way to convince any developer to even just simply integrate _existing_ engine support for plain side-by-side 3D support which then you could view whichever way your ersatz-cardboard allows you; absolutely nobody is interested in the tiniest of gestures if it's not about the OR or Vive. Did you know that the Unreal 4 engine includes SBS-3D support built in out of the box that can be enabled via a simple command line parameter without ever even involving the developer - and that it still displays the left and right images _reversed_ in spite of multiple several year old bug reports...? Yeah, there's VR hype for you... nurse! ...NURSE!!!

    3. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Apple

      ...how have Apple been able to keep on doing this on OSX (after Microsoft Windows decision with IE) and with iOS (Safari is the only browser preinstalled and there is NO other App store option).

      Apple does not have a monopoly share of the market, and never has. They may have a monopoly on iPhones, but >80% of the smartphone market is Android. Before Android took off they were in third place behind RIM and Symbian.

  21. naive

    First time someone gets fined for giving something for free

    Cost of Android $ 0.00 / A reasonable Android phone starts at around $ 250

    Cost of the only viable alternative to Android: $ 700 - $ 1000

    Is that Googles fault, or a market that does not work well ?.

    It is sad to see that the first company improving the life of ordinary people in ways only matched by the Ford Motor Company when they started mass producing the T-Ford, gets fined by a bunch of greedy unelected clerks. Without Google we still would live in a 90's hell of .NET dominated internet sites and browsers refusing to render non .NET sites.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: First time someone gets fined for giving something for free

      "Is that Googles fault, or a market that does not work well ?."

      From the article:

      "But by making even one FireOS phone, the OEM would have lost the ability to include Google Play Store on its other devices."

      It's Google's fault.

      1. Patrician

        Re: First time someone gets fined for giving something for free

        Amazon don't install Google Play Services on their FireOS devices; I have a FireHD 8 and had to sideload the Google Play Services with the tablet in "Development Mode".

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "Without Google we still would live in a 90's hell of .NET dominated internet sites"

      And what opened the way to Google if not the EU ruling (and the DOJ investigation as well) about IE forcing not only MS to advertising competitive browser, but also forcing it to rethink the company culture and become much more cautious about trying to abuse their dominant position?

      Just Google adopted the same strategy twenty years later - greed is greed, whatever your logo is.

      1. David 164 Bronze badge

        Re: "Without Google we still would live in a 90's hell of .NET dominated internet sites"

        So it greedy to provide a free OS to all the manufactures. All the manufactures have to do promise is not to remove any of Google own apps and not support copycats of the OS under a different name.

        That doesn't sound greedy to me at all, in fact it sound like a fair deal to me.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "really it greedy to provide a free OS"

          Think, Microsoft offered a free browser and a free media player... when you had to pay for them. The OS was heavily discounted for abiding OEMs. Also, it guaranteed excellent interoperability among all MS systems, applications and data formats, as long as you used its own applications...

          So, MS wasn't greedy too?

          But it looks for many today Google Kool-aid has a better taste than MS one - still, both are poisoned...

          1. Patrician

            Re: "really it greedy to provide a free OS"

            There is a slight difference between MS operating system and Android; End users paid for that Microsoft OS, Android is provided free of charge.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Re: "really it greedy to provide a free OS"

              You pay for Android, by letting Google take your data when you use your phone, use Google Search, etc. Don't act like Google is developing Android out of the kindness of their heart.

              1. Daggerchild Silver badge
                Big Brother

                Re: "really it greedy to provide a free OS"

                "Don't act like Google is developing Android out of the kindness of their heart."

                You are going to LOVE what the manufacturers will do when their powers aren't bound by Google's contract. All those horrible decisions about what search engine you use, and what apps you use, and who gets your data, they will all be made for you.

                Yeah, there's quite a few things bound by that demonic seal the manufacturers want smashed... Enjoy!

                1. DougS Silver badge

                  Re: "really it greedy to provide a free OS"

                  So then you wouldn't buy phones from an OEM that modified Android to force you to Bing and prevents installing Google Search, makes you use a version of Mapquest from 1999 and takes your data and sells it to the mob.

                  There'd be other OEMs that would default search to Bing because Microsoft pays them but allow you to switch that to Google or DuckDuckGo if you wish, and offer an option where you pay a little more in exchange for a promise not to collect any of your data.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: "Without Google we still would live in a 90's hell of .NET dominated internet sites"

        No, in the time in between Firefox's launch and Chrome being pushed everywhere by the Google juggernaut (Search, antivirus programs, Flash, etc...), Firefox gained 30%+ market share, perfectly good enough to force a change away from closed to HTML-based formats.

    3. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: First time someone gets fined for giving something for free

      > First time someone gets fined for giving something for free

      1) it's not free;

      2) it comes with a long complex license with many strings attached.

      So nothing is 'given', and nothing is 'free' about Android for handset makers.

  22. Jamtea

    More money for the EU coffers then

    You just know this money will be spent wisely on behalf of everyone in the EU. I'm sure that'll pay for a lot of Brussels dinners, socialising and holiday homes.

  23. MooseMonkey

    If they pay that....

    .... I'll eat my hamster

  24. Sean o' bhaile na gleann

    I may be missing something here, but what, in practical terms, could the Competition Commission do if Google said 'No'. Not going to argue… not going to appeal... just 'No, not going to pay'.

    1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

      but what, in practical terms, could the Competition Commission do if Google said 'No'. Not going to argue… not going to appeal... just 'No, not going to pay'.

      I presume the EU could ban the sale of google/alphabet products in the EU

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      If Google don't pay then I guess the EU could try to sieze the bits of Google that are in Europe and sell their assets to pay the fine. Or start arresting their executives whenever they fly through European airspace. Or stop EU companies from paying them.

      If Google want to operate in the EU, and they do because they make profits there, then they'll have to pay up.

      Also Google get away with being massive privacy thieves and data-hoarders through inertia. They're useful, and it's a lot of hassle to regulat them. But if they tried to pull a stunt like that, the gloves would come off pretty quickly.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Google make roughly 1/3 of their revenue in the EU.

        The EU is a far bigger market than the USA. Something that many US people tend to forget.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          But if the EU turn up the heat, the cost of compliance may become more than the revenues they make over there. After all, Google pulled out of China, and that's a huge market in itself.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Google pulled out of China, but when it was a much smaller consumer market than it now is. And then slunk back in later, to not a huge amount of success. But GDP per capita in China is probably a third of what it is in Europe - so despite having fewer people, Europe is still richer - and has more dispoable income for fripperies who might pay Google for advertising.

            Also, when you're a monopolist (and Google are) then you need to maintain your monopoly in order to abuse it to make monopolistic profits. As soon as Google pulls out of one of the biggest markets in the world, they torpedo their own monopoly - and create a space where a rival can build up.

            Google won't leave the EU market.

  25. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

    Margrethe Vestager

    Would buy them a nice bottle of whatever they like drinking if they keep up with these fines....

    As long as it's available in a supermarket. I'm guessing they like bottles priced at more than £20 each

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Margrethe Vestager

      As long as it's available in a supermarket. I'm guessing they like bottles priced at more than £20 each

      Well, buying plonk in £ isn't a great idea, buy it somewhere in Europe where fermented vegetable drinks are cheaper.

  26. Helen Highwater

    Morons

    Hopefully, for the EU, this is the equivalent of Hitler's June 22nd 1941 (the day that war was declared on Russia and the straw that eventually helped to break the came;'s back)

    Google needs to geo-block Europe (wuthout warning) for 48 hours, the politburo Bully Boys would crap themselves.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Morons

      Nah. Google are dead useful. But not irreplaceable.

      It's business. They get fined, they pay the fine, they change behaviour as little as they think they can get away with and they keep making money. The EU can do this, because people make profits there.

    2. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Morons

      The thing is, Google needs the EU more than the EU needs Google. You can't just cut off the second-largest economy in the world and expect to make it as a publicly-traded company; investors would revolt instantly. Heck, China is only the third largest and Google bends over backwards to meet their demands.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Morons

        Since when? I recall Google pulled out of China.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Since when? I recall Google pulled out of China"

          For Google, Chine is a difficult market - Baidu there achieve the same market share Google has in the West. Still Google didn't pull out of China - it just moved to Hong Kong...

          There's been spat between Google and the China government - Google products obviously overlap China censorship needs much more than others, but still, Google can't ignore China as well, and who's making a lot of cheap Android phones?

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: "Since when? I recall Google pulled out of China"

            Most of them without GPS IIRC?

            1. Orv Silver badge

              Re: "Since when? I recall Google pulled out of China"

              The two Chinese-made phones I've had had GPS capability, although it's possible that's an export market thing. I've observed my current ZTE phone locking on to GPS, GLONASS, and BEIDOU.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: "Since when? I recall Google pulled out of China"

                I meant Google Play Services. I recall most of them use Baidu or similar.

                1. Orv Silver badge

                  Re: "Since when? I recall Google pulled out of China"

                  Ah, my bad. It was a TLA collision but I should have been able to gather that from context.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Morons

      Thank you for your second ever post to El Reg, on the EU. I missed your first post to El Reg a month ago, also about the EU.

  27. andy 103

    I wonder how many people would (vs wouldn't) just go ahead and install Google services on a phone if they didn't come pre-installed.

    My guess is that more would than wouldn't. By a seriously long way.

    Want to use a different search engine other than Google? Fair enough. But most people use Google. Not because Google have told them to, but because it's, you know, the best one. See also Google Docs - what's the better/free alternative to that with equivalent functionality? Fancy driving round the whole world in your car to take Street View photos for your rival of Google Maps? All the best...

    1. Oddlegs

      I suspect you're right but the point is that with these lockins no one else stands a chance. If I develop a search engine that's 10x better than Google's no one's ever going to know about it because Google are paying the manufacturer's to use their own, quite obviously supressing competition.

      You specifically mention search and maps, two areas where Google are justifiably market leaders. They also have an awful lot of other tools which, at best, are distinctly average but they gain an unfair leg up by being bundled with the rest.

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      My guess is that more would than wouldn't. By a seriously long way.

      I daresay they would. The easy functionality is a strong inducement, even if you are aware of the slurp and tracking, even the feeling of your lifeforce being constantly drained by the knowledge of the slow drip of your personal data and activities syphoned off to feed the Google beast is not enough for many users.

      But having the choice not to, if your don't need or don't want the thing leeching at your life is much better.

      There are other satnavs, and openstreetmaps (is that still about, I lose track) could do with the attention. One Google fan (or even one Google van) certainly didn't make Street View the rich resource it is.

      1. onefang Silver badge

        "and openstreetmaps (is that still about, I lose track)"

        Yep, it's still around. I use it instead of Google Maps.

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          "I use it instead of Google Maps."

          Same. And not just on Android. There is desktop software like Geosetter which works with it just fine...

          1. onefang Silver badge

            "Same. And not just on Android. There is desktop software like Geosetter which works with it just fine..."

            I wrote a module for OpenSim that drags in OpenStreetMaps data and other stuff to build a portion of the real world in the virtual world, all you do is feed it lat/long of one corner.

            Or you can just point a web browser at https://www.openstreetmap.org/

    3. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

      " I wonder how many people would (vs wouldn't) just go ahead and install Google services on a phone if they didn't come pre-installed. "

      When you look for custom builds of android for handsets where the pre-installed build is shite, or not being upgraded, they cant come pre-installed with google play, but near enough every one comes with a link to download and install google play and the other google apps...

      back when I had a HTC desire I installed the cyanogenMOD build of android which fixed all the issues that HTC could not be bothered fixing, right after installing the rom, the google shite was installed....

  28. jms222

    Dandy Highwaymen

    and spend their cash on looking flash.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Dandy Highwaymen

      and spend their cash on looking flash.

      And grabbing the attention of the European Commission,

      Google ain't no 'Prince Charming' any longer, more a Grand Vizier (and you know what Pratchett mused about people with that title).

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Dandy Highwaymen

        Upvote for the Sir Pterry reference.

  29. jaffa99

    I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

    I only buy phones with 'standard' Android builds because all those skinned and modified Android implementations are inferior. I'm buying it for Google's services, I don't want a phone full of inferior adware, junkware and half-baked & buggy OS modifications which is what the EU seem to think we want.

    But more importantly where is the 4.43 billion Euro's going? Is it going to the consumers it is claimed were disadvantaged or is it going into EU coffers to help pay their outrageous pensions?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

      If Google are so great, how come they abused their monopoly by forcing vendors to use Google Search and other services, but didn't use the same power to force them to issue security updates for the OS?

      1. jaffa99

        Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

        Vendors are not "forced to include Google search", they can take the freely available Android source code and build an OS with whatever pre-installed and pre-configured junk they want, but if they want to put google services & the google play store on it they have to comply with Google's rules - nothing wrong with that.

        Users can choose to buy phones from vendors who provide regular updates, they have a free choice.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

        "If Google are so great, how come they abused their monopoly by forcing vendors to use Google Search and other services, but didn't use the same power to force them to issue security updates for the OS?"

        Most of that was down to the component manufacturers, most of which operate on razor-thin highly-competitive margins and don't have to rely on the phone market to keep going (there's a large non-phone embedded market now). They depend on Planned Obsolescence to keep going and have enough outside market to ignore Google. When was the last time you saw a complete open-source driver base for Rockchip or Mediatek SoCs? EVERYTHING out there is blobs, and they can legally argue on the basis of Trade Secrets.

        1. dajames Silver badge

          Wrong target?

          When was the last time you saw a complete open-source driver base for Rockchip or Mediatek SoCs? EVERYTHING out there is blobs, and they can legally argue on the basis of Trade Secrets.

          So ... what you're saying is that the EU should be going after the SoC makers, and insisting that they publish Open Source reference implementations of all the drivers for their devices -- or face a fine or being banned from the market -- in order to enable small AOSP-based device vendors to compete effectively with the big boys and girls?

          Sounds good to me ...

      3. dajames Silver badge

        If Google are so great ...

        ... how come they abused their monopoly by forcing vendors to use Google Search and other services, but didn't use the same power to force them to issue security updates for the OS?

        Good question. I do wish that Google would make timely support with software updates a requirement for any vendor licensing Android.

        I can see why they might not, though ... part of the answer to that must be that most vendors will bow -- albeit perhaps grudgingly -- to Google's bundling requirements because complying with those doesn't actually cost them very much money. They're barred from producing some other products for which there might be a market, but that market isn't very lucrative.

        Having to keep an OS version in development for an old device has an ongoing cash cost that the vendors are unlikely to swallow with good grace. Google keeps the vendors on-side by refraining from making that a requirement.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

      Is it going to the consumers it is claimed were disadvantaged or is it going into EU coffers to help pay their outrageous pensions?

      The consumers won't see any of it because the EU commissars are greedy and want it all for themselves, that's why they are doing this.

      1. tomboley

        Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

        Yeah, there's a reason for brexit

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

          That reason being: people are fucking stupid.

    3. RRJ

      Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

      The funds are going into the EU coffers to off-set the failed EURO... why anyone went with this is so sad..

  30. caitlin.bestler

    Fining someone for 'breaking' unclear law.

    Is anyone else bothered by the EU *fining* a company retro-actively for something that is *not* clearly a violation of anti-trust rules.

    The EU can certainly decide to impose these conditions moving forward, but retroactive fines are just a bureaucracy run amok.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: Fining someone for 'breaking' unclear law.

      Per the article, Google to phone manufacturers: "if you try to market even a single FireOS phone, we will withdraw your licence to ship fully-functioning Android phones".

      Your definition of what is and isn't "clearly a violation of anti-trust rules" must vary from mine.

    2. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

      Re: Fining someone for 'breaking' unclear law.

      "Is anyone else bothered by the EU *fining* a company retro-actively for something that is *not* clearly a violation of anti-trust rules."

      Very bothered, A lot about the EU bothers me, but the commentards on el reg are very pro EU and mutter anything negative about the EU and the downvotes come down as heavy as an EU "fine"

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: Fining someone for 'breaking' unclear law. @pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

        So your argument is: Google's alleged placing of terms into its contract to effect penalties if the other side ships anything that competes with a Google products is not "clearly" anticompetitive? And that the main reason anybody here might think a legally-enforceable contractual term that prohibited competition was anticompetitive... is pro-EU bias?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too many tards...

    Don't you remember the quality and competition in browsers a few years ago when 90% used Internet Explorer - mmmm IE6 that was super good, compare that with now, including Google chrome. Imagine what could be had in the phone arena, but don't hurt your brains to much...

    Jesus, talk about turkeys and Christmas. I thought this is where the clever IT people hang out!

    Oh, don't throw your dummy out, nobody's going to stop you using Android IF you WANT too.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Too many tards...

      You don't remember Firefox before that got turned into Google roadkill?

  32. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Yee Haw!, Eeh Haw!

    A lot of anti-EU 'how dare they fine Google' (presumably 'an US company') sentiment on here today.

    Tempted to think the Trumpeters cavalry are out in force, armed with recent orange twits tweets about 'the enemy' to try to deal some alternative propaganda.

    'Course, it might be the Farage-Boris lot, hoping to ingratiate in the vain hope of not being shafted roughly at a future US-UK trade grovel agreement.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yee Haw!, Eeh Haw!

      I am all for open debate but some of these comments are made by obvious Google employees or shareholders.

      Look through the El Reg archives that mention Google and/or Android and you will see many similarities in the comments made by a select number of users.

      It's getting so bad that I am looking for a different forum.

      But that's exactly the point isn't it?

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Yee Haw!, Eeh Haw!

        It's getting so bad that I am looking for a different forum.

        Yeah, good luck with that, but I doubt anything less infected exists.

        I'm not so sure of the corporate sponsored involvement (although it would not surprise me), unpaid or unrewarded partisanship seems quite easy to induce in the land of the 'no free lunch unless you pay for it, and tip well, but if you can afford it, then it's complimentary'.

        I know I wouldn't go down well on Ars....

        1. tomboley

          Re: Yee Haw!, Eeh Haw!

          There seems to be a lot of pro-EU comments like your own. Are your parents part of the EU and give you some of the fine money as a treat for dropping anti US-UK propaganda?

          1. DropBear Silver badge

            Re: Yee Haw!, Eeh Haw!

            I'm pretty sure that listening to people opening their mouths could make even the staunchest supporter of democracy swear it off in abject horror eventually, given enough time.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Manufacturer specific "features" - sorry - bloatware

    Try this:

    As part of the agreement with Google, Amazon, etc., make it mandatory to offer a choice of a plain vanilla instal, or a manufacturer-specific install, complete with all those wonderful and oh, so desirable "features" (the sort of stuff so many of us thick, knuckle dragging IT types who know nothing of marketing might call bloat)

    Obviously, the world plus dog would opt for the contaminated version but at least there would be some semblance of choice.

  34. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    "Google leveraged its platform dominance"

    Please. What is wrong with "used"? Has someone escaped from HR again?

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: "Google leveraged its platform dominance"

      Please. What is wrong with "used"? Has someone escaped from HR again?

      You wanted them to 'used' like a 'used' condom when they can instead 'leverage' a more dynamic sounding word that gives the impression of force being applied with care and judgement and to ultimate effect?

      Even when the impression is a total lie and gives a wholly false image of even remotely competent management.

      This verbal virus spread far beyond HR years ago.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: "Google leveraged its platform dominance"

        Why, what is wrong with less weasel-cursed words like... "exploited"?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The big big question

    If the EU are doing this to Google when are they going to land on Microslurp for using their market dominance and dumping win 10 on peoples computers even if they didn't want it? Or is this some vendetta by the EU because they are treading on the toes of some of Microslurp's supporters.

    1. tomboley

      Re: The big big question

      Windows 10 has been known to automatically change your default programs to Microsoft defaults, and makes it hard for regular users to change default programs. This I see as more of a concern than whatever this Google thing is all about. Still not fine worthy. The EU is increasingly power hungry

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: The big big question

        This kind of investigations requires time and resources - MS can incur into antitrust and privacy issue one day too, as it did in the past already. I also hope GDPR will kill most, it not all, the personal data slurping by MS and Google (and others...)

        Still, Google acted along the same anti competitive lines and deserves the fine it got.

  36. bazza Silver badge

    Shareholders Carry the Can?

    So, how is Google going to explain this one to shareholders. After all, this is not the first time Google have been fined by the EU, and this specific result has been in the pipeline for a long time.

    In short, Google cannot tell their shareholders that they are "surprised" by the outcome.

    Ordinarily, this scale and type (as near to a criminal fine as you can get without attracting a jail term!) of loss would result in a pretty big shake up in the composition of the board, and the chairman / CEO would be in trouble too. Except that owing to the corporate constitution of Google, Google's seniors can go tell the ordinary shareholder "like it or lump it", because most shareholders have no voting rights in Google.

    Why oh why the US permits these types of company constitutions to exist is beyond me; they distort the open market enormously, something that the USA is supposed to be dead set against. Oh it's all very well saying that there's other companies out there in which one is free to invest, but a large number of these enormous new tech companies are all set up in similar ways; there is no real choice out there for the tech-orientated investor.

    1. Public Citizen

      Re: Shareholders Carry the Can?

      Shareholders have the ultimate "voting right" which they exercise with every buy or sell transaction.

      When the investors start to move toward the door in significant numbers the share price drops, which means the value of the company is lessened, making it less attractive to new investors.

      This big a fine is newsworthy enough to stampede a noticeable number of the small investors. If too many of them join the sidle to the exit the stock price can drop enough to bring attention from the financial regulators.

  37. stechfreak

    what about Apple?

    So why isn't apple fined for forcing users to use itunes, safari and locked into the apple ecosystem?

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: what about Apple?

      Because none of that is contrary to competition law.

    2. Cynicalmark
      Devil

      Re: what about Apple?

      Apple allows you to use any search engine you want. In addition you can use Opera, Firefox etc as there are apps for them. Google allows very little freedom for the consumer. Ffs Apple even allows removal of the bloatware so they are not breaking the law in this case.

      Just another basher of Apple eh? Ffs comment on the article rather than using it to ecosystem bash. None of them (Linix, M$, Apple etc) are perfect- if they were we would all be happy with one brand. Google just loves to bully and lock out small business and stamps on startups with brilliant ideas - why? - They used to be the little guy and know how easy it is to fall no matter how big you are.

      No excuses for the sleaze that Google is to behave to the detriment of the consumer so hence the fine. No doubt they will have many lawyers looking for an angle. They wont find the angle as the EU is already pissed off with the UK so US insane logic will just piss them off more.

      1. tomboley

        Re: what about Apple?

        You can use whatever you damn well please on Google products. Most people don't want to though because when products seamlessly integrate, love is easier

        1. dajames Silver badge

          Re: what about Apple?

          You can use whatever you damn well please on Google products.

          You can, as a user, yes.

          The EU's complaint is that Google don't allow OEMs to exercise the same freedom by installing alternative apps instead of Google's own.

          I, personally, don't mind Google insisting that all their own apps should be present on a new device -- as long as I can delete or disable the ones I don't want to use (which I can't, in some cases) -- but that's not the issue, either.

          The issue that sticks in the craw is that Google apparently don't allow an OEM to produce two Android devices, one of which is fully Googled-up while the other is not. If they're different devices they should be allowed to use different licensing schemes.

          1. Patrician

            Re: what about Apple?

            "The issue that sticks in the craw is that Google apparently don't allow an OEM to produce two Android devices, one of which is fully Googled-up while the other is not. If they're different devices they should be allowed to use different licensing schemes."

            Nothing is stopping them from doing just that; they can take the free Android kernel and build their own operating system, incorporating whatever rubbish home developed apps they want to. If they produced one that is better than Fully Googled Android then, just as Chrome beat out IE, they/it would beat out Google,.

            The chances are more than 50/50 though that it wouldn't be better and would be so full of Samsung, for instance, rubbish that you couldn't uninstall, and wouldn't be able to change default search, email etc. and would "slurp" your information and data to Samsung rather than Google.

            The end of this route is that the only decent option for a mobile phone would be one that is Googles own.

      2. Oneman2Many

        Re: what about Apple?

        Re: what about Apple?

        Apple allows you to use any search engine you want. In addition you can use Opera, Firefox etc as there are apps for them. Google allows very little freedom for the consumer. Ffs Apple even allows removal of the bloatware so they are not breaking the law in this case.

        The issue isn't that consumer doesn't have browser choice or maps choice or choice for any of the google offering. The issue is that Google if forcing its apps to be pre-installed and not removable and no rival can be pre-installed so Google apps becomes the default choice.

        I'm guessing the vast majority of users can't be bother to download alternative to Google apps.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: what about Apple?

      Simply because it doesn't hold a dominant position. The day it has, it will incur in fines as well. Maybe that's one reason why Apple is interested only in the upper market - it ensure big profits without incurring into antitrust regulations.

      Antitrust law are designed to apply only when the market becomes heavily distorted by entities who are large enough to use their weight to achieve it, especially across different areas - not to to control each and every company, which would hinder innovation and growth.

      Be also aware that a dominant position per se is not unlawful - its abuse is.

      You may want to use Google to perform some searches about how it works....

  38. This post has been deleted by its author

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can't compare Microsoft in the 90s to Android today. Microsoft sold a license to consumers AND then promoted their own apps/services. Google does not sell a license for Android so the only way they can monetize is via their apps like search.

    If you tell Google that they can't install search and Chrome, they are essentially developing and managing Android for free and earning nothing. If you told Microsoft they couldn't install IE and Office in the 90s, they would have made billions upon billions of dollars from Windows in licensing.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "ou can't compare Microsoft in the 90s to Android today."

      Keep on trying to climb glass.... the screech of your nails is easy to hear here too...

      What business model Google chose really doesn't matter - just like MS one didn't matter. Nobody is forcing Google to give Android away for nothing or the like - if Google decided so, so it can act as a Trojan Horse for Google services, it's only a decision they made wholly themselves. It's a sort of dumping too, in many ways - for which they greatly exploited a lot of open source work at their own advantage (plus Java, trying to avoid also to pay for a license...)

      Still, it can't abuse its dominant position to hinder competition, because it breaks the law. it's very simple.

  40. tomboley

    This is ridiculous. Google dominates because it does things good. You buy an Android or Chromebook and you have instant free access to gone drive, docs, calendar, etc. On top of that, you can easily install third party apps, which can integrate directly with other Google services

  41. nextenso

    Please EU put Google down with follow through

    I'm mostly an end user now having spent years specifying functionality for our internet applications for sport giving me insight into Google's insidious creep of dominance and what it writes unseen into root code.

    I do everything I can to avoid Google services, especially Chrome which I regard as almost dangerous, as if a digital octopus with tentacles enveloping and extracting personal data from the user.

    As an example of why Google should be stopped, 10 days ago I received a Google notification that to continue downloading email from a Google email account to my Outlook, I MUST install Chrome, without Chrome I am not allowed to continue downloading. I reacted with fury vowing NEVER to install Chrome and found a work around to continue my usual email practice. It's part of Google's increasing practice of frustrating use of Msoft services.

    I happily am a Msoft devotee (I hear screams of shock and horror) since 1986 and still hanker for the days of dos and simplicity and purity of its operation. Despite what many say about Msoft, it has served me and my various businesses mostly reliably and well.

  42. Charles Smith

    Imagine if Google responds by saying Android will no lnger be available in the EU countries except on a paid subscription basis. Say 5 Euro/month. That would give competitors such as Amazon and Microsoft a chance.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang on.

    Google just got heavily fined for engaging in 'Microsoft-style tactics'.

    But Microsoft got away with it. And they still are getting away with it.

    1. Oneman2Many

      Re: Hang on.

      And so will google.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Hang on.

      How did MS get away with it? In the US, maybe, but not in EU. Being a US company DOJ had much power on it than EU had. That's why also Google lobbies so much in the US to be left untouched even when it promotes dodgy and illegal pharmaceutical sales....

  44. Rob Crawford

    I would like to ask a question

    To quote "But by making even one FireOS phone, the OEM would have lost the ability to include Google Play Store on its other devices."

    Has anybody even seen the Play Store on any Amazon device, as I most certainly haven't, they don't use it as they want all the income for themselves.

    So that's a bit of a non argument.

    I'm not agreeing with googles business plan but lets at least avoid non existent examples being used.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: I would like to ask a question

      The allegation, including your quoted part, says nothing whatsoever about including Google Play on FireOS phones.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: I would like to ask a question

        The point is, if Google Play Services is SO crucial, how come Amazon can work WITHOUT it, which seemingly indicates it's NOT so crucial? Didn't Microsoft try a similar tactic with sweetheart deals for OEMs who put ONLY Windows on their machines?

        1. CVsos

          Re: I would like to ask a question

          aws store is a subset of google play...same for samsung etc.

          google play is the most widely universally accessible store for apps...with the others basically limiting users only to apps that they want the users to use.... but sideloading allows you to bypass this anyway

          1. onefang Silver badge

            Re: I would like to ask a question

            "with the others basically limiting users only to apps that they want the users to use"

            Except for stores like F-droid.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: I would like to ask a question

              Except for all other repos you have to jump additional hoops, tick additional boxes, and OK additional dialogues. Google's is the only one that doesn't have to do that on a stock phone (and there's no way to change that on a stock phone). As I recall, even on an AOSP-only phone (with no Play Services), Google's is the only store that is given the Official Source treatment.

  45. CPU

    I would think Google's answer would be- "cash or cheque?"

  46. steviebuk Silver badge

    Why haven't the EU...

    ...done the same to Apple yet?

  47. Nathan 13

    Google are morally above Apple and Microsoft

    Literally way more open than both. Yes all 3 suck data, but according to all the cookie messages I am getting recently, so does every website in existence!!

    The EU could fine literally 3 million websites $5 billion each. That might make up for the loss of the UKs contribution and keep 10 million male migrants in the luxury they have been told to expect by their traffickers!!

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next target: How many work places without Windows

    How many work places without Windows?

  49. CVsos

    absolutely ridiculous fine. Microsoft do the same with Windows and their services. Apple do the same on IOS and their services.

    The fine does not suit the crime at all. As a user I can simply install and change the software I use. absolutely nonsense by the EU...overreach and abuse of their power I say!

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