The European Commission is set to fine Google a record €4.3 billion. Photo: Reuters

INTERNATIONAL – The European Commission is set to fine Google a record €4.3 billion (R71.49 billion) today over its Android mobile operating system, a source close to the matter said. 

The source said Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager would confirm the antitrust fine, which is nearly double the previous record €2.4bn fine which the US tech company received last year over its online shopping-search service. 

The fine represents just more than two weeks of revenue for Google’s parent, Alphabet, and would scarcely dent its cash reserves of $102.9bn. 

The fine, however, could add to a brewing trade war between Brussels and the Trump administration in Washington. Vestager’s boss, commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, is due to meet US President Donald Trump at the White House next Wednesday in an effort to avert threatened new tariffs on EU cars, amid Trump’s complaints over the US trade deficit. 

Vestager’s announcement on Google is expected to include an order to halt anti-competitive practices in contractual deals with smartphone makers and telecoms providers. 

Android runs about 80 percent of the world’s smartphones, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics. 

The case is the most important out of a trio of antitrust cases against Google, because of Android’s enormous growth potential. 

A third case, which has not yet concluded, involves Google’s AdSense product. The competition authorities said that Google had prevented third parties using its product from displaying search advertisements from Google’s competitors.

Reuters