Google Fined in Italy for Abuse of Market Dominance

Posted on May 13, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Google with 12 Comments

Italy has fined Google $123 million for abuse of market dominance because it restricts developer access to Android Auto.

“The Italian Competition Authority has imposed a fine of over 100 million euros on [Google] for the violation of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,” the Italian Competition Authority announced. “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. About three quarters of smartphones in Italy use the Android system. Google is a major global player in the digital economy and relies on a very significant financial strength.”

According to the announcement, Google prevented a firm called Enel X Italia to develop and release a version of its JuicePass app for Android Auto. “JuicePass enables a wide range of services for recharging electric vehicles, ranging from finding a charging station to managing the charging session and reserving a place at the station,” the Authority explains. “This latter function guarantees the actual availability of the infrastructure once the user reaches it.”

In blocking the app, Google has “unfairly limited the possibilities for end users,” the Italian Competition Authority says, and is instead favoring its own Google Maps app in Android Autio. Google Maps also enables functional services for electric vehicle charging, but it’s currently limited to finding and getting directions to reach charging points; features like reservation and payment could be added later, the agency notes.

Google has apparently excluded Enel X Italia from Android Auto for over two years, a situation that could “permanently jeopardize” its chances of growing an audience base and “leading to an impoverishment of consumer choice and an obstacle to technological progress … Possible negative effects could occur to the diffusion of electric vehicles, to the use of ‘clean’ energy and to the transition towards a more environmentally sustainable mobility.”

In addition to the fine, the Italian Competition Authority has sent a cease and desist letter to Google demanding that it “stop the abuse” and allow Enel X Italia’s app to ship for Android Auto.

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Comments (12)

12 responses to “Google Fined in Italy for Abuse of Market Dominance”

  1. lvthunder

    Does anyone know why Google blocked the app?

  2. spacein_vader

    It's not blocked from the App store, it's blocked from Android Auto.


    Google won't allow it on Auto because it isn't compatible, but won't share the tools and information required to make it compatible. This decision forces them to provide these and then allow the app to use Auto when it's made compatible.

  3. Chris_Kez

    This is like getting Al Capone for tax evasion.

    • anoldamigauser

      Sort of, but in the end, does it matter what they got him on? Chicago was better off with him removed.

      We can only hope this is the first of many small victories that might begin to rein in these tech gatekeepers.

  4. John Craig

    £5 says this gets overturned in the next couple of years. Seems all the big fines handed out in Europe have been turned and turfed recently

  5. JH_Radio

    They could pay the fine and keep on truckin couldn't they? It'd be a hell of a lot cheaper than hireing a law firm.

    • eric_rasmussen

      They could, but I'd be surprised if they didn't already have an in-house legal team to deal with things like this. I'm willing to bet that the fine will eventually be settled for a much smaller amount or dismissed entirely.

  6. youwerewarned

    Google is fully aware of the behaviors that will elicit fines in the EU. The cost of "business as usual" in this case being 0.08% of net profits.

    Done and done.

  7. nbplopes

    I find al this fine based monitoring unfair to the market and makes regulators look like stupid. Instead Europe should come up with a policy that App Stores regardless of device and OS should comply with. With this regulate vertical integration in open ended systems.



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