Google Inc. on Wednesday was fined EUR 4.34 billion ($5.06 billion) by the European Union (EU) in an antitrust case, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported, citing an unnamed source as saying.
It added that the fine could “loosen the company’s grip on its biggest growth engine: mobile phones.”
Companies had often complained that Android-operated phones arrive preloaded with Google apps, which gives the tech giant an unfair advantage.
Hence, the EU’s antitrust regulator began looking into the matter to see if the Alphabet-owned company had exploited the dominance of its Android operating system to promote its mobile apps and services, including its search engine.
Companies believed that Google was using the data it collected from these preloaded apps to “devise and target advertising,” the WSJ said.
The Android operating system runs over 80 percent of the world’s smartphones.
Since 2016 when the EU formally began its case against the California-based tech giant, Google has rejected the case, saying that Android, which manufacturers can use free of charge, has bolstered competition among smartphone makers and reduced prices for consumers.
“Google also says the allegation that it stymied competing apps is false because manufacturers typically install many rival apps on Android devices and consumers can download others,” the WSJ said.
Details of the decision taken by EU commissioners are due to be released later on Wednesday.