Manufacturers who sell devices with Google Play services installed must follow strict rules. OEMs who do not comply with these rules will have their Android devices deprived of Google To the Play Store the certificate required to access. These rules include which applications must be pre-installed, and at the time Chrome and Google Search were two of these.
According to the court, it "largely confirms the Commission's decision that the search giant has imposed unlawful restrictions on Android mobile device manufacturers and mobile network operators in order to consolidate its dominant position in the search engine". It also states that 80% of smart devices in the EU in 2018 were Android smartphones and that the company sought to give priority to its own apps. The court identified the following three restrictions as abuses of dominant position:
- The "distribution agreements" require mobile device manufacturers to pre-install the general search (Google Search) and browser (Chrome) apps in order to obtain permission to use the Google Play Store.
- The "anti-fragmentation agreements" had to be signed by the OEMs, under which the Google Search and the operating licences required to pre-install Play Store apps could only be granted if the manufacturer agreed not to sell devices running Android that were not approved by Google.
- The "revenue sharing agreements", in which Google's share of advertising revenues was awarded to mobile device manufacturers and the relevant MNOs on condition that they did not pre-install a competing generic search service on a pre-defined portfolio of devices.
The company appealed the finding, although the European Court of Justice upheld it with a concession, reducing the fine from €4.34 billion to €4.125 billion.
The reduction of the fine results from the partial annulment of the findings of abuse in the revenue-sharing agreement. The General Court identified here 'a number of errors' in the assessment of the relevant variables of the 'effective competitor' test applied by the Commission. This test examines whether a competitor is able to offer the same services at the same level as the dominant party. However, this was the only reduction in the amount of the fine and all other aspects of the judgment were upheld.
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