Google has been hit with a record-breaking fine of 2.42 billion euros by European regulators for abusing weaker rivals. The company was found to be abusing its online search market dominance, and the case seems to be the start of what appears to be an attempt to control the company’s power in Europe.
Announced on Tuesday, the European Commission found Google to be playing unfairly by favoring its own recommendations in online shopping in search results. The commission is not yet done with Google as it is still probing into at least two other business practices which could force the company to make more changes in its approaches to service delivery on mobile devices as well as how it conducts sales on web-based advertising.
However, the move by the European Commission is unlikely to affect Google’s service delivery in the other parts of the world though it could trigger a change in consumer behavior or attitude in its orations as compared to with an unrestrained Google.
The fine gave rise to a debate on whether the European regulators were concerned with the future approaches to competition preservation or if they had overstepped their bounds in saving companies from being rejected by consumers who will seek to embrace other alternatives.
According to Europe’s top antitrust regulator, Margrethe Vestager, the agency’s seven-year investigation was a strong confirmation that action had to be taken against Google. “What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation,” she told reporters on Tuesday.
The fine imposed has been recorded to be the highest in Europe for anti-competitive business practices, which more than doubles 1.06 billion euros penalty which was imposed on chip manufacturer, Intel in 2009. The penalty, however, in unlikely to bruise the company’s finances since Alphabet inc., Google’s parent company, has at least 82 billion euros in cash and about 50 billion euros in accounts outside of the U.S.
Google’s ill behavior was characterized by prioritizing its own online shopping services above those of its competitors. It’s biggest rivals’ search results were indexed at page 4 while those of smaller rivals appeared even deeper in the result pages. Google, however, said that its clients preferred its shopping thumbnails since they were clear and offered convenience.