The fine follows Google’s exclusion of utility company Enel’s JuicePass app from its Android Auto system, instead favouring its own Google Maps app
Google once again finds itself in hot water in Europe over what has been deemed anticompetitive behaviour, this time in Italy.
The Italian competition regulator has fined Google €102 million for excluding Enel’s e-mobility app, JuicePass, from its Android system, arguing that the company has leveraged its dominant market position unfairly.
“Through the Android operating system and the Google Play app store, Google holds a dominant position, allowing it to control the access of app developers to end users,” said the regulator, noting that, around three quarters of Italians use smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system.
“Google’s conduct could influence the development of electric mobility in a crucial phase of its launch, in particular as regards the development of a network for recharging electric cars… with possible negative effects to the diffusion of electric vehicles, to the use of "clean" energy and to the transition towards a more environmentally sustainable mobility,” said the regulator.
The regulator has ordered Google to make JuicePass available on Android Auto immediately, as well as providing tools to ensure that non-Google apps are interoperable with the company’s smart driving platform.
In response, Google has said it “respectfully disagrees” with the ruling, arguing that there are “thousands of apps compatible with Android Auto.” The company says it will study the various documents thoroughly before taking action.
This is not the first or likely the last time that Google has been fined over anticompetitive behaviour, with both European and US regulators moving to crackdown on the tech giant’s dominance in recent years. In 2019, the EU fined the company €1.49 billion over advertising violations, while various elements of the US government sued the company on three separate occasions in 2020.
Regulators are becoming increasingly concerned about the privileged position that companies like Google occupy in the online space, with the EU announcing new rules at the end of last year in an effort to level the playing field. The EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) could instead force big tech firms to offer smaller rivals access to data on reasonable, standardised and non-discriminatory terms.
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