gwerbret 14 days ago

A summary of the original findings by the European Commission (1):

"By decision of 18 July 2018, the Commission fined Google for having abused its dominant position by imposing anticompetitive contractual restrictions on manufacturers of mobile devices and on mobile network operators, in some cases since 1 January 2011. Three types of restriction were identified:

1. those contained in ‘distribution agreements’, requiring manufacturers of mobile devices to pre-install the general search (Google Search) and (Chrome) browser apps in order to be able to obtain a licence from Google to use its app store (Play Store);

2. those contained in ‘anti-fragmentation agreements’, under which the operating licences necessary for the pre-installation of the Google Search and Play Store apps could be obtained by mobile device manufacturers only if they undertook not to sell devices running versions of the Android operating system not approved by Google;

3. those contained in ‘revenue share agreements’, under which the grant of a share of Google’s advertising revenue to the manufacturers of mobile devices and the mobile network operators concerned was subject to their undertaking not to pre-install a competing general search service on a predefined portfolio of devices."

1: https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/jcms/p1_3862705/en/

  • nilsbunger 14 days ago

    #2 is the same thing Microsoft got busted for by US antitrust in the late 90s. Microsoft had required computer vendors to NOT sell computers with other OSes (eg Linux). At one point they insisted computer vendors pay for a Windows license on all computers they shipped, even ones shipped without Windows.

    • Dalewyn 14 days ago

      Is it? My reading of #2 suggests Google just didn't want phones with ancient or beta versions of Android in the market with Google branding. Fairly reasonable demand, if you ask me.

      #1 is right up the alley that busted Microsoft, though.

      • ssddanbrown 14 days ago

        #2 sounds like it would prevent manufacturers from developing or using Android forks on completely other devices so, for example, you could not sell a device with Amazon's Fire OS (Even without Google's apps, so no hindrance to Google's branding) while also selling other Android devices with Google's apps. Would seriously hinder entry-to-market for Android-based forks.

        To be clear, I have not read the original agreements to confirm this is the case, it's just my interpretation of #2.

      • aeturnum 14 days ago

        > #2 suggests Google just didn't want phones with ancient or beta versions of Android in the market with Google branding

        I think that would have been acceptable - my reading of #2 is that if you sold phones with a fork of Android, even if that phone did not have Google branding, Google would not allow you to sell *any* phones with Google branding. That does seem very similar to the Microsoft example.

      • Tuna-Fish 14 days ago

        Requiring that someone cannot use Google branding on a phone with an ancient version of Android is legal.

        Requiring that someone cannot use Google branding on any device they manufacture or sell, if they also manufacture or sell devices without Google branding that use ancient versions of Android, is entirely illegal in the EU.

      • josefx 14 days ago

        > with Google branding

        Then the rule was overly broad, since it also prevented them from selling Android phones without Google branding. I think Amazon was involved in that lawsuit after it had issues finding a manufacturer that wasn't bound by that rule.

      • mhermher 14 days ago

        Why would a manufacturer sell both devices with ancient and current versions of Android at the same time? There is no reason to limit this behavior because no one would do it. This is entirely about smothering AOSP forks.

      • lcnPylGDnU4H9OF 14 days ago

        > versions of the Android operating system not approved by Google

        That could include deprecated versions and any forks.

      • pyrale 13 days ago

        > Is it? My reading of #2 suggests Google just didn't want phones with ancient or beta versions of Android in the market with Google branding.

        Judging only by gp's message, it also targets any would-be competitor's fork of Android.

    • at-fates-hands 14 days ago

      The video deposition of Gates was pretty damning during their anti-trust case. I just remember watching it and having my image of Gates shattered right in front of me. The amount of unhinged arrogance and hubris he had was startling. I know it really damaged his clean cut, good guy image and many of my friends said it completely reversed their opinion of him.

      • q7xvh97o2pDhNrh 14 days ago

        I found a highlights video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRelVFm7iJE

        (I see the full 11 hour deposition is also on YouTube, but I think I'll save that for another day.)

        So far, being 10 minutes in, I see a little bit of what you mean, but I haven't gotten to anything "unhinged" yet. He just seems like a bit of a smug nerd who's clearly enjoying going toe-to-toe with one of the country's top lawyers.

        Do you remember anything that jumped out for you from the deposition? I'd love to see more of what you're getting at.

      • intelVISA 14 days ago

        Great vid, I don't fully blame him he had to play the game. What's amusing is other equally unhinged tech giants pretending they don't do the same.

      • iforgotpassword 14 days ago

        Do you think today's Gates really learned his lesson and became a better person, or just better at putting on a show?

        • b800h 14 days ago

          Time alone mellows out most people.

        • tomcam 14 days ago

          How many times did he ride Jeffrey Epstein’s plane?

    • saurik 14 days ago

      AFAIK the idea isn't that you can't ship devices running other operating systems but that you can't ship devices running non-compliant forks of Android, which I do agree is nigh unto the same thing--as Android is open source and that's a decision Google already made--but I think is worth noting explicitly as others sometimes see it as different (both because it doesn't prevent a greenfield alternative, and as Google gave away Android for free and arguably didn't have to--though I kind of think they originally did to pull off the coalition--and so this is one of the ways they maintain ecosystem control without being closed source, which they arguably could just do now without issue... I mean, they've already gone back hard on the level of openness they started with, and for a year or so around Android 3.x they were closed source, which I have oft claimed was to stifle Amazon).

      • oblio 14 days ago

        > I mean, they've already gone back hard on the level of openness they started with

        From what I understand, AOSP is not dead, but it's definitely far behind the latest versions of Android. The default apps are not updated, the UI toolkit is behind, most of the new services used by everything in Android are the proprietary bits.

        It's basically Darwin at this point, yeah, open source, but in no way shape or form if you build Darwin, do you get Mac OS.

        • saurik 14 days ago

          (By "gone back hard" I don't mean "has returned to" but "did a 180 away from". Maybe you are just expanding, but it sort of sounded like you were disagreeing, when in fact I am fully on board. I remember when they started and their stated goal had been to separate all of their build and hosting infrastructure from Google so everyone was working with and seeing live commits to collaborate.)

      • tomcam 14 days ago

        More periods next time plz

    • dekhn 14 days ago

      what's funny is that most people think of that trial as being about Microsoft "putting IE in the operating system". Which is hilarious, because where else is your core HTTP fetching DLL, your core HTML parsing DLL, etc, going to go otherwise? A Chromebook is basically an operating system running Chrome and more or less nothing else, vindicating Microsoft's technical decision.

      • bb88 14 days ago

        Microsoft's claim at the time was that IE couldn't be removed from the system because it had been integrated into the OS. The government was able to show otherwise. It really had nothing to do with the architecture, but the legal arguments Microsoft's lawyers were making.

        But despite that, let's not gloss over about what MS did. If they had been successful there wouldn't have been one web, there would have been two: One for MS (ActiveX and proprietary MS extensions) and one for MacOS/Linux/Netscape/Mozilla/Opera etc. This would have been part of their "Embrace/Extend/Extinguish" strategy they were known for at the time.

        • dekhn 14 days ago

          No, the government didn't show otherwise (in my opinion). They showed you could remove the component, but it degraded essential functionality because IE and the components (HTTP, HTML and form display) depended on the (the OS did, for updates and other applications). I mean the IE the software component, not the browser, because MSFT comingled them at the OS level. At the time, they planned on replacing much of the user interface with web controls, and even today you can see many vestiges of Internet Explorer-like behavior even though IE is gone.

          i woudl have agreed with you in the past but when I was curous and went back through all the cases I was surprised to see that I think (from a technical perspective) MSFT was completely right to do what they want, and the main issue was that they simply didn't understand how to win a case in court.

      • josefx 13 days ago

        > Which is hilarious, because where else is your core HTTP fetching DLL, your core HTML parsing DLL, etc, going to go otherwise?

        Microsoft insisted that the OS needed the internet explorer executable, not only the rendering engine components. You couldn't even run windows update without it opening IE - in order to load a native ActiveX component that then performed the work. They where desperate to make everything depend on IE without a plan of how to make good use of it, which shouldn't be surprising, back then any complex use of IE would have blue screened the entire system.

        > vindicating Microsoft's technical decision.

        Imagine a ChromeOS based on IE5 and tell me why I shouldn't break down in hysterical laughter just thinking about it.

        • dekhn 13 days ago

          It makes perfect sense to me that if MSFT made IE a necessary component to upgrade the operating system, then insisting the OS needs that executable is an absolutely (technically) correct thing to say.

          I said it vindicating their decision- not that IE was a good foundation to build a presentation layer on.

          • josefx 13 days ago

            > if MSFT made IE a necessary component to upgrade the operating system,

            > then insisting the OS

            Arguing that a change that had no technical merit made IE necessary, when you are under scrunity for abusing your market position to push IE, seems kinda counterproductive.

            > I said it vindicating their decision- not that IE was a good foundation to build a presentation layer on.

            Then how does chrome OS vindicate them? You obviously agree that IE was not fit for that purpose.

    • sylware 14 days ago

      Now, it is implicit, and you better care or the hidden OEM price of doz, will skyrocket for _you_.

      Even, rumors says that a future doz update may brick _your_ hardware...

  • jmyeet 14 days ago

    So I have no doubt Google threw their weight around in the Android space. It's known that they impose conditions for access to the Google suite of apps. But I have a thought that I have a hard time reconciling.

    Imagine Google had gone the Apple route of vertically integrating handset production, distribution and sale in the same way Apple did. If they had, there would be no antitrust issue, just like there isn't with Apple.

    That seems weird.

    How is having third-party manufacturers (well, really it's just Samsung now) create more antitrust issues than the Apple model? That just doesn't seem right.

    • stefan_ 14 days ago

      Well, one way to lose an antitrust case is putting obviously anticompetitive clauses into contracts, like here. This is much easier to prove than the whole "customer harm through abuse of dominant market position" thing!

      Much like when Jobs called up all the book publishers and told them straight up "we gotta agree on one price among us, and remember we are doing this to harm Amazon who we both hate". Now this was a slam dunk prosecution!

    • riffraff 14 days ago

      there was a brief period of time when mobile OSs were shitty but plenty.

      Android made a two-player competition better, but it did so at the expenses of other competing OSs which could not gains foothold.

      It's practically the story of BeOS vs Windows.

    • moritonal 14 days ago

      Because Apple paid for all that integration. Google essentially vassalised companies by using the immense money they make from Search to wipe out a market of Phone-OS developers forcing companies to use Android.

      Kinda like how Uber was forced to accept they were an employer because they dictated work hours to drivers. Google is being forced to accept they have the potential to be a monopoly, and have abused that.

    • michaelmrose 14 days ago

      If me and my wife decide to run with the bulls there is no legal wrong doing so I don't understand why child protective services took little suzy away just because she a five year old had to run away in stark terror from a ton of hooves and fury barely escaping with her life!

      Differing relationships come with differing obligations. It appears fairly straightforward that its illegal in Europe to impose such obligations on other market players. If they couldn't abide by that they could have declined to do business in the continent. It's not really weird that different places have different rules.

  • pooper 14 days ago

    > By decision of 18 July 2018

    So they haven't paid this fine for over four years now and there is no penalty for it? Just because they have deep enough pockets to afford expensive lawyers? I am sure not having to pay those four billion in fines for over four years more than pays the cost of these lawyers even if they eventually have to pay this fine, right?

    I mean I am glad to see a big fine like this but surely the fines must go up every day it is left unpaid.

  • guelo 14 days ago

    The irony is that if Google had not licensed Android and only manufactured its own devices, like Apple does, it could restrict consumer options much more harshly without EU fines and restrictions.

    • ClumsyPilot 14 days ago

      If Google chose that path, other manufacturers would still need an OS to put on their phones - and it's likely Windows Phone would be the contender. So maybe we'd live in a world with 3 mobile OS's and more competition.

      The point is, the alternative scenario involves more actors making different choices.

      • slaw 14 days ago

        We would live in a world with 2 mobile OS's iOS and Windows Phone. Android would land in Google Graveyard.

        • Apocryphon 14 days ago

          Then maybe Firefox OS and Ubuntu Touch would still be around as FOSS mobile OS.

          • linmob 14 days ago

            Ubuntu Touch is still around, see [0]. That said, with continued funding by Canonical, they like would have progressed differently (likely more).

            Firefox OS and webOS are still around under different names, which are Capyloon [1] and LuneOS respectively [2].

            [0]: https://ubuntu-touch.io/

            [1]: https://capyloon.org/

            [2]: https://webos-ports.org/wiki/Main_Page

            • Apocryphon 14 days ago

              Interesting, I had thought KaiOS was the last remnant of FFOS.

              I wonder which of these projects is most active at this time.

          • doublepg23 14 days ago

            Firefox OS was built from a lot of Android internals.

        • kernal 14 days ago

          Windows Phone was always destined to fall. There is no scenario in which Windows Phone would not been beaten into irrelevance by Google and by Microsoft's own actions in undermining their underwhelming and unpopular mobile OS.

          • oblio 14 days ago

            Well, this thread is in the parallel universe in which Google would have sold only its own Android devices. So no Android + LG, Sony, Samsung, Huawei, etc.

            If you look at Google's hardware's capabilities, Android would have flopped immediately.

            As bad as the org level issues were with Windows Phone, it would have still beaten Android-on-Google-hardware-only.

            • kernal 14 days ago

              Microsoft actually charged a license fee for Windows Phone OS which is just one of many reasons OEM's abandoned the OS. Google also would have undercut their licensing fees to ensure their failure. Additionally, the absence of any Google apps would have also ensured a quick death for Windows Phone. Its failure was inevitable and justified for what they did to their customers and OEM's.

              • Apocryphon 14 days ago

                In this hypothetical Android apps are far less relevant with that ecosystem only being present on Google phones.

                I wonder without AOSP or some other major FOSS mobile operating system to shake things up, if smartphones would be more like the PDA industry in the 1990s, with proprietary OS's from OEMs competing with each other. Maybe Palm sticks around and webOS gets a long lease on life. Maybe Samsung, Intel, the Linux Foundation, and co. try to get mass adoption of Tizen, with hilarious results. Though perhaps if Nokia sticks around, MeeGo as based on the Harmattan design in the N9 gets wider use, delaying the need for a successor like Tizen. In any case, with only Apple and Microsoft as their mobile competitors and without Android devices cutting at their margins, BlackBerry still has a fighting chance.

          • babypuncher 14 days ago

            Windows phone was destined to fail mainly because they were the third to show up to a two-man race. If Android never showed up, or completely biffed it at the starting line, then Windows Phone probably could have succeeded with enough time.

            The other possible alternative is Palm WebOS, but I think they were too Apple-like for their own good. The key differentiators that helped Android succeed as an iPhone alternative (wide device variety, more "open" platform) apply much more easily to Windows Phone.

            • rootw0rm 14 days ago

              In my opinion Windows Phone had a lot of promise, which I think was definitely tied to solid hardware Nokia was making at the time. Microsoft pretty much made it impossible for meaningful apps to be developed by the average joe though (Read: API restrictions) and I think that really helped Windows Phone become obsolete.

      • babypuncher 14 days ago

        I think Google would have killed off Android before it could really take off if they went that route. Early Android was very rough compared to iPhoneOS, and one of its biggest selling points was the variety of hardware you could get it on. Early successful devices like the Motorola Droid and HTC Evo 4G were important to solidifying Android as a serious smartphone platform. This strategy allowed Google to focus on improving the software while experienced hardware manufacturers did what they already do best.

      • Apocryphon 14 days ago

        Maybe Nokia would have stuck around unmerged and there would have been hope for the very polished MeeGo build seen on the Nokia N9.

        Not to mention BlackBerry and webOS still being contenders.

      • rootw0rm 14 days ago

        I'm still bitter about Windows Phone. Nokia's hardware was great, Windows Phone was great, but only Microsoft Partners had permission to access the low level APIs that mattered...effectively neutering app development.

    • rococode 14 days ago

      DMA may be coming soon and would most likely affect Apple too.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Markets_Act

      • _aavaa_ 14 days ago

        > The list of obligations would include prohibitions on combining data collected from two different services belonging to the same company (e.g. Facebook and WhatsApp);

        Would this not simply kill the kind of integration that Apple has between its different services? Or any of the smart assistants?

    • dagaci 14 days ago

      This is true, but the case for the acceptance of Android in the Market was that its was and open-platform and open-source. This is what gave it legs despite its early questionable software and hardware merits (the mantra being that you can fix it yourself!). The slow moving EU, a decade++ later is on target from this point of view. ....

      • babypuncher 14 days ago

        Android is not really all that open anymore, at least not in the sense that it was in 2010 when AOSP was basically just a de-Googled Android. The AOSP today is more like Darwin is to macOS than Chromium is to Chrome.

        I think today's ruling reflects this, as much of it has to do with how Google handles the licensing of their proprietary Android bits.

      • mhermher 14 days ago

        Not even necessarily the "market" of consumers, but more specifically the market of manufacturers.

    • dahfizz 14 days ago

      Theoretically, yes. But I am confident the EU would find other ways to extract fines from Google in that case.

      • stingraycharles 14 days ago

        “Extract fines” makes it sound like the EU is the evil one here, rather than Google abusing its position.

        • dahfizz 14 days ago

          The world is not a child's cartoon. It can be simultaneously true that Google is a scummy monopolist and the EU is not acting in good faith.

          • pmyteh 14 days ago

            It's acting in good faith insofar as it does care about establishing transparent markets (and also protecting citizen privacy). It's fortunate (at least for itself) that these ambitions are entirely consistent with political expediency - which means they can pursue them without reserve.

            If an EU company did similar it might not be hit so hard (which would be hypocritical). But that doesn't make this action (a fine for obviously anticompetitive action) in bad faith, so much as it would make the other (lack of fine) so.

          • tremon 14 days ago

            If you're accusing others of acting in bad faith you need to substantiate that. With a proper argument. Otherwise you're not acting in good faith yourself.

            • edgyquant 14 days ago

              I wouldn’t use the term bad faith but it’s clear the EU wants American big tech out

              • kergonath 14 days ago

                The EU very regularly fines European companies. AFAIK there is no statistics showing a preference towards investigating American companies. Though that is certainly the case for large software companies, simply by due to the fact that there are more of them and with larger revenues than European ones.

                Have you any evidence, numerical or otherwise, to substantiate your assertion?

              • oblio 14 days ago

                The EU doesn't want big tech out. It wants big tech abusers out.

                And guess what, most of those big tech abusers are American.

                But if it helps with anything, it doesn't look too kindly upon Chinese companies, either.

                It can't really do much about European big tech companies since there aren't that many left... and they're in enterprise markets where things work completely differently (enterprises can sue you themselves very efficiently if they're disadvantaged, thank you very much).

          • krzyk 14 days ago

            Yes, but this Google. They are far away from having consumers as their top priority.

            And this is EU, which mostly does have them as top priority.

      • StingyJelly 14 days ago

        As a counterexample there's Apple with not insignificant market share in Europe - pushing icloud, not supporting third party operating sysems or even sideloading, still keeping proprietary connector despite everyone else using usb-c, etc.

        • gls2ro 14 days ago

          At the first Google search (irony) I found that apple is maybe around 30% maybe (depending on the source) a bit hight than Samsung which is pretty close. but when looking at iOS vs Android then we have 30% (iOS) vs 60% (Android).

          this does not look at all even close to a monopoly from Apple.

          As far as I see their power in Europe comes from the fact that competition is following them in some decisions.

        • stingraycharles 14 days ago

          For sure my recently bought iPad and Apple Watch use USB-C, so I think that part is not true. Arguably due to EU legislation.

          • StingyJelly 13 days ago

            Yet the all new iphone 14 still uses lightning and I bet you and most apple watch owners also own an iphone.

        • at-fates-hands 14 days ago

          Which kind of begs the question about the differences between a "walled garden" in a way to protect their users and what exactly amounts to anti-competitive business practices.

          Windows phones tried the Apple approach if I remember correctly when their phones were on the market and it wasn't enough to keep them competitive. They had a litany of other issues to boot, but taking the "walled garden" approach raised the ire of many developers.

    • kube-system 14 days ago

      Or they could have written their licensing agreements in a way that doesn’t violate antitrust law.

      Apple has lots of partners, but Foxconn and Pegatron make phones for many companies.

    • babypuncher 14 days ago

      I don't think we would still be talking about Android today if Google went down that path.

      I think in this alternate universe, Windows Phone may have actually succeeded.

    • michaelmrose 14 days ago

      If you look at their in house phones the odds are that this would actually have tanked android entirely.

Normille 14 days ago

Cool. The EU does have its [many!] faults. But they have a pretty good track record when it comes to consumer rights and consumer choice. Next up I'd like to see them do the same for the plethora of incompatible cordless power-tool systems out there as they did with insisting all mobile phones standardise on a USB connector.

  • woeh 14 days ago

    I was pleased to see recently that a couple of different brands at my local DIY store had interoperable batteries. I bought a small lawnmower which now uses the same battery as a cordless drill from another brand. The brands that joined are listed on their marketing site[0].

    Edit: One of the companies has a slightly less obnoxious website which also lists brands[1]

    [0]https://www.powerforall-alliance.com/en/#technology

    [1]https://www.gardena.com/int/products/powerforall/

    • Kerbonut 14 days ago

      I’m glad we’re finally working towards standard batteries for power tools. I have to say that website is terrible.

      • pmx 14 days ago

        It plays absolute havoc with the browser history, how did they think that was a good idea?

    • Semaphor 14 days ago

      Oh cool, so there are two competing battery pack standards :D

      https://www.cordless-alliance-system.com

      • edgyquant 14 days ago

        This is why the EU is right we have to regulate these things. There just aren’t right answers here, each battery has pros and cons, so it’s a political matter full stop.

      • bmicraft 14 days ago

        I've never even heard of a power tool from any of those companies

        • Semaphor 14 days ago

          There are a lot of German niche companies in that list. Like seriously "one specific job" niches ;)

          Metabo (the one I know for their powertools, though Fischer is famous for their dowels and Edding for their markers) is known for drills as well as gardening power tools. I think this is more a non-consumer area (though Metabo certainly dabbles in consumer devices)

    • dml2135 14 days ago

      Wow this is a great idea. I do have to say I'm disappointed, but not surprised, that none of the bigger brands in power tools look to be participating.

      The only name I recognize there is Bosch, I've never had any of their tools but my perception is that they are a mid-tier brand. It would be great to see players like DeWalt, Milwaukee, and Makita do something like this.

      • mrks_hy 14 days ago

        Bosch segments its own market into the "green" and "blue" parts, the latter being for professional use. They're very well-made and costly, on-par and competitive with the other brands you mentioned. But of course they are not in this Power4All alliance thing and are incompatible with the "green" consumer stuff.

    • franciscop 14 days ago

      wow this is very interesting, and the main reason I hadn't bought many cordless tools, because I didn't want 2-5 years down the road to have a bunch of chargers and batteries that are all incompatible among each other! I'll reconsider it whenever I need new tools, thanks for sharing!

  • fatboy 14 days ago

    I think that's a bit trickier. If Makita or whoever was forced to change their batteries, anyone with a big catalogue of their tools would be pretty miffed.

    Also, I've mentioned this on hn before, there is already the Cordless Alliance, which does exactly this.

    Sadly, there's only a couple of useful-in-a-mainstream-sense brands in there: Mafell and Metabo. The rest are very niche.

    • namdnay 14 days ago

      I would be wary of this "cordless alliance", the dynamics are closer to that of a kingdom than an alliance... it's basically lots of small(er) german tool manufacturers using Metabo batteries instead of developing their own. Which is great, but not really the same thing as an alliance of equals agreeing to align existing systems

      • fatboy 14 days ago

        That's not really so surprising though. Any brand that already has a system would be penalising existing customers by changing, we're not talking usb cables here.

        Good on Metabo for doing it, and good on Mafell for signing up to use them. The smaller brands it's a no-brainer I guess.

    • TheRealPomax 14 days ago

      Why? It's not like manufacturers haven't switched all their batteries themselves before? If all of them are forced to have the same batteries, that's no different from makita or dewalt or bosch going "we're switching to a new 24V battery system, and your old tools won't take them. deal with it".

    • 6510 14 days ago

      I just sold some tools for 5 euro each. They need new batteries but company is gone. Makita can just continue to sell their old batteries while their new tools use a standardized form factor. They could also make an old type battery with replaceable cells.

      • fatboy 14 days ago

        I have five or six Makita 18v batteries and a load of their tools. If they only make new tools with the new battery they are potentially making me quite miffed. If I want the new tool I need also the new batteries and charger. Also I'd need multiple batteries because you can't really only have one.

        Personally I'd be happy for that situation because of the big upside, but I can see why a company would not want it.

        Plus, the most logical thing to do is not make a new standard, but pick an existing one. But who gets to be the golden brand whose battery system remains unchanged?

        I would love it to happen but I can't see it happening for a while.

        • saalweachter 14 days ago

          > But who gets to be the golden brand whose battery system remains unchanged?

          The first one to make all relevant patents & designs available royalty-free.

        • 6510 14 days ago

          There is probably some sensible time frame to adopt a new battery.

      • stephen_g 14 days ago

        As somebody who has a couple of Makita tools and batteries, it would be really bad if they were hypothetically forced to change. Specifically because not being able to get new tools that use my existing 18V batteries would mean buying a whole set of new batteries, and then it’s so annoying keeping two kinds of batteries that when the old ones wear out, I’d probably instead buy new tools for the new ones. So the old tools potentially become e-waste far sooner than they would be (the old batteries wouldn’t be available forever) as well as the waste of resources for the premature replacement of all the tools and batteries…

        • TheSpiceIsLife 14 days ago

          Perhaps not an entirely ideal solution for all scenario, adaptors are available for any of the big brands.

          Perhaps part of a battery standardisation push could include making these available at a reasonable price.

  • elsonrodriguez 14 days ago

    If the EU standardizes on battery packs, Ryobi needs go get a free pass or extension of some sort. Ryobi have kept the same battery format for 25 years, whereas their competitors have changed battery standards 2 or 3 times during that timeframe.

    • twblalock 14 days ago

      Ryobi and Milwaukee are owned by the same company, and Ryobi products have not changed because they are the low-end product made by that company. The parent company uses the newer battery formats in their more expensive brands.

      Ryobi should not be praised for failure to innovate. They did not do this out of a desire to preserve compatibility, but rather out of cheapness.

      • elsonrodriguez 13 days ago

        They have switched from NiCad to lithium ion. When new cell chemistries became available they made a lithium+ line. They now have higher amperage batteries with more contacts for their "HP" line of tools. Those batteries and tools are still backwards compatible. I can take an HP battery I bought for my impact wrench and throw it into my 20 year old recip saw I bought at a garage sale and it works.

        Ryobi products are low end but they have innovated plenty while maintaining compatibility. Given that TTI has access to the pro market via other brands, and Ryobi geared for homeowners, I don't see this as anything but a win for the average Ryobi customer.

  • efsavage 14 days ago

    I support the charging connector standardization, but not tool batteries. There are so many factors in play I don't see how standardization would offer enough benefit to offset innovation penalties. Even within a given brand/connector, there are variations on capabilities like size and duty cycle and power output. I have a bunch of Milwaukee cordless tools on the M18 platform, and the smaller tools (e.g. drills) can use any battery but some tools (e.g. chainsaw) only work with a subset because of higher power draw.

    I have cordless tools across a number of battery platforms and while it's convenient when they can be shared, it's ultimately not a big deal to have a few if another company makes a better tool. Tradespeople won't lock themselves in if the right tool is on a different platform.

    • rahimnathwani 14 days ago

      "Tradespeople won't lock themselves in if the right tool is on a different platform."

      Right, but home users will. I have 5 Ryobi One+ batteries, so there's no way I'll buy a battery-operated tool from a different brand, even if the tool itself is better/cheaper than the equivalent Ryobi product.

      • Normille 14 days ago

          >Right, but home users will.
        
        Agreed. I've got about half a dozen Makita cordless tools taking the LXT battery. I'm pretty happy with the brand but I do kind of feel like I'm trapped using whatever Makita offers from now on.

        The charger cost about £70 and the 3 batteries I have were a similar price, each. So, for me, changing brands for a particular tool would mean an outlay of 'Price of Tool' + 'Price of Charger' + Price of n Batteries' which just isn't worth it, unless the rival company's tool was 2 or 3 times as good as the Makita offering.

        I've sometimes thought that maybe Metabo, DeWalt or Milwaukee's version of a certain tool I wanted was slightly better than Makita's one. But, as I say, not twice or three times as good, to justify that kind of outlay.

        So, like quite a few people commenting here, I'm kind of stuck with supporting the blue team now --even when they occasionally get outplayed by their opponents.

      • TheSpiceIsLife 14 days ago

        Tradesperson.

        There's a reason Milwaukee, Makita, DeWalt, AEG, and Bosch, are wildly popular.

        They're almost entirely indistinguishable. We also have some Hilti branded cordless tools, also fine.

        My personal preference for home use is something like Ryobi One+ or Ozito PXC (less than half the price of the One+) because I'm actually at work all day using power and cordless tools supplied by work, I don't plan on taking my home tools to three or four hundred commercial construction sites or building 1000 houses with them.

        Tool brand preference is, in my opinion, largely a sport-like

  • rlpb 14 days ago

    I don't mind so long as third parties are free to make compatible batteries and tools. Unfortunately there's no reasonable migration path for someone already invested in tools and batteries. Unlike phones that get cycled through in just a few years, I am invested in my tools with the expectation that the majority of my less-used tools will last my lifetime. I'd like to be able to buy replacement compatible batteries for at least that long.

  • londons_explore 14 days ago

    The cordless power tools typically have the battery management system in the device, not in the battery. The battery tends to contain protection circuitry, but no logic that determines charge rate etc.

    That means every device manufacturer will claim, even if the law requires that devices must all have the same plug, that a competitors device drew too much current, or charged their battery too fast/too slow/at too a low a temperature, and thats why performance sucks.

    In reality, these technical problems could be solved - but device manufacturers will make the small hurdle into a big one when explaining why they can't all standardize.

    • beAbU 14 days ago

      I'm not sure that I agree with this statement.

      Many of the packs that I've seen the inside of has balancing circuitry included.

      Also worth considering these packs are charged separate from the tool. So this means the tool cannot control the charge rate etc.

      Lastly, based on my luddite eyes, the difference between makita, milwaukee, bosch, dewalt and ryobi batteries seem to me to only be a different keying in the plastic mating parts. This suspicion is amplified when you consider that some of these brands are made by the same company.

      • Normille 14 days ago

          >Lastly, based on my luddite eyes, the difference between makita, milwaukee, bosch, dewalt and ryobi batteries seem to me to only be a different keying in the plastic mating parts
        
        The fact that you can buy adaptors to allow one brand's batteries to be used on another brand's tools would seem to back up your theory. However, with the adaptors costing around £20 each and being produced by no-brand 'warranty voiding' unofficial third parties you've never heard of, it would be an expensive business if you wanted to be brand agnostic in your power tool choices, as you'd need a heap of adaptors to cover all the various combinations of tool & battery. Added to which is the potential for a dodgy 3rd party adaptor to damage tool or battery.

        I'd like to see the EU designate a common battery interface for all newly manufactured tools & batteries. That way we could buy the best tool for the job each time, instead of being locked into using whatever the Blue, Yellow, Red or Green team are fielding in that area.

        The manufacturers would doubtless also produce their own adaptors to allow their existing tools & batteries to work with this new 'One Interface to Rule Them All'

        • 6510 14 days ago

          I much enjoyed my mobile phone with AA batteries. I had a pocket full of charged ones but if they ran out every corner store sold them. (They drained pretty quickly eventho it had a led display but replacing them was as fast as reloading a gun)

      • sorry_i_lisp 14 days ago

        +1 that the plastic is the main difference are the "everything to Ryobi"-plastic adadpters you can buy. I use Makita battery->Ryobi tool and it works great.

        • NikolaNovak 14 days ago

          Ryobi are actually the first batteries that I genuinely dislike; I have 8 year old Black & Decker drill whose battery still works great. Similar experience with some other manufacturers. But we went all-in on Ryobi at Home Depot a few years ago, and we now have to buy 2-4 new batteries a year. Then after 12-18 months, the battery shows as defective on its charger.... brutal.

          (probably less-than-average usage patterns as we are lazy house owners; stored inside, not abused)

          • Normille 14 days ago

            That pretty much echoes the reputation Ryobi tools have. ie. the tools themselves are really good but the batteries don't last.

      • deelowe 14 days ago

        Of the tools you listed, none are made by the same company. At least for their primary products.

        All of the large format packs have pins for each cell, so charging with a standard balance charger is pretty easy. You can find plenty of schematics for homemade controllers online. Where they differ however, are the other pins. Some use a communication protocol like SMBUS. Some have dedicated pins for specific things like overcurrent or temperature. It varies highly from manufacturer to manufacturer.

        AFAIK, all tool brands are moving to communication protocols for the packs.

        [EDIT] Someone mentioned adapters. I don't believe there are adapters that support newer communicating packs (e.g. the OEM chargers won't work with the adapter). Older packs are all analog, so conversion is just a simple matter of rerouting the pins.

        • 6510 14 days ago

          But in all honesty, that is their problem. They chose this road and knew there were riches on it but also risks.

          • deelowe 14 days ago

            Who's problem exactly? The communicating packs are WAY better. They last much longer than the old style. It makes sense why this was done.

  • twblalock 14 days ago

    > Next up I'd like to see them do the same for the plethora of incompatible cordless power-tool systems out there as they did with insisting all mobile phones standardise on a USB connector.

    We should all be glad that didn't happen with micro-USB or some of the worse connectors years ago, because we would still be stuck with them. USB-C was innovated by the market, not by EU bureaucrats.

  • jayd16 14 days ago

    Sadly this decision will lead to more fragmentation, not less, won't it? Would have be nice if there was a path forward for Android standards.

  • MuffinFlavored 14 days ago

    > The EU does have its [many!] faults.

    Curious/out of the loop: any (unbiased?) examples?

  • tmoravec 14 days ago

    > pretty good track record when it comes to consumer rights

    Are you sure EU has "pretty good track record" with these fines of Google, FB, et al.? If anything, I'd say the EU puts a mild theatre every now and then, and gives the US giants a free pass otherwise.

    • Normille 14 days ago

        >Are you sure EU has "pretty good track record" with these fines of Google, FB, et al.?
      
      I wasn't specifically referring to the Google [and other] anti-trust measures. I was thinking of things along the lines of abolishing roaming charges for mobile phone use, the right to open a bank account in any EU country, the right to work and reside in any EU country, the introduction of the Euro [which I know a lot of people are ambivalent about, but it did get rid of currency conversion charges]. All of which I consider to be 'consumer friendly' actions.

      I'm also a European. But unfortunately resident in UK. So all those benefits and more are now lost to me. Still. At least we showed Johnny Foreigner who's boss, eh?

    • timmg 14 days ago

      > and gives the US giants a free pass otherwise.

      Probably because I work in tech in the US, but that has not been my view.

      What was the fine that the EU put on VW for intentionally cheating on emissions standards? And how does that compare with the many fines Google has gotten?

      • DoughnutHole 14 days ago

        Volkswagen has definitely been fined less than Google - they were fined about a billion. The difference is though that the EU wasn't really prepared for the Volkswagen fraud - there was no standing law setting enormous fines for companies engaged in an emissions fraud of that scale like there is for GDPR violations. Since the scandal they brought in legislation to prevent it in the future, including fines of up to €30,000 per car sold violating the emissions guidelines.

        EU regulator powers operate with an honestly fairly limited scope based on the laws passed by parliament and the commission. There's no EPA like organisation with broad powers to persue companies for most forms of misbehaviour like there is in the US - that's left to the member states, with countries like Germany and Italy individually prosecuting Volkswagen executives for fraud.

        The difference with GDPR and anti-trust violations is that the EU has been deliberately granted the power to exact severe fines on companies for each individual offence. If post-scandal Volkswagen had been caught falsifying emissions again and again (similiar to Google's repeated GDPR violations) they might have been hit with more and more fines of the severity that Google has.

        • timmg 14 days ago

          Couldn't they have prosecuted VW on the basis of "competition"?

          Like VW had an unfair advantage over other (non-EU) car companies because they didn't meet the standards.

          The reality is that they didn't want to hurt VW that much because it is an important EU company. Same reason the US fined the crap out of them -- but would have been lenient on Ford in the same circumstances.

          This is normal stuff. I was just responding to the idea that the EU was "too soft" on US tech companies.

        • Narishma 14 days ago

          Unless I'm missing something, this fine has nothing to do with the GDPR but with Google's anti-competitive behavior.

      • tmoravec 14 days ago

        IIRC it was mainly about cheating in the US, no? The US definitely gave VW huge fines. And jail time for an executive.

        Not that it's relevant to Google...

    • oblak 14 days ago

      You have a point, though one must not forget who runs the world. Spoiler alert: it's not the EU. The bigger theater is forcing the big US bois to invest here (building data centers) by playing the privacy card.

    • 1234letshaveatw 14 days ago

      I'm pretty sure one of the main reasons the EU exists is to fine US tech companies instead of trying to compete

      • oblio 14 days ago

        The standard business practice of many US tech companies is to go:

        We have a ton of VC capital. Can we use this to price dump our way into the market or to do slightly illegal or very illegal things covered in great UI/UX/XD so that some consumers are our own side, and by the time they ban us, we're too big too fail and fines we get are lower than our profits?

        Examples: Uber, Airbnb, LinkedIn, ...

      • Hamuko 14 days ago

        Dear Americans,

        Not everything in this world revolves around you.

    • londons_explore 14 days ago

      What really matters is how many dollars did they take from european citizens and businesses, and how many tax and fine dollars did they return.

      Europe needs to make sure these tech giants get to keep just enough money that they don't pull out of europe entirely, but not much more.

      Big fines are a start, but a better approach is taxation, since that takes away the regulatory risk for the companies.

      • tmoravec 14 days ago

        > Big fines are a start, but a better approach is taxation, since that takes away the regulatory risk for the companies.

        Companies should obey the laws first and foremost. I'm not sure there's a lot of regulatory risk either; Google certainly has enough lawyers to know that what they did was illegal.

        • 6510 14 days ago

          There is no reason to think Google is not aware of EU laws.

          One such law for example forbids fake reviews.

          Google creates profiles for small businesses, invites everyone to anonymously say whatever they want about business and rate it.

          Then they list advertisement from competitors next to it.

          Their solution for the public shaming contest is that you should send more <s>customers</s> people to google to review your business and of course purchase adds.

          The law says that if you want to do reviews of any kind you must be able to prove the review is from someone who purchased a product or service. The fines are in % of global revenue. Google could have some legal talking point if they allowed business to disable it.

          We didn't know wont fly.

      • oblak 14 days ago

        Huh? The EU tech sector would absolutely love the US giants pulling out (phrasing) of Europe. Who wants to fight all these behemoths that pay almost no taxes here because they "invest" so much

        • dvfjsdhgfv 14 days ago

          Let's imagine for a second that someone really wanted FB out of Europe. FB would fight tooth and nail to stay - because losing the European market would be a huge blow to them. Practically every European business at least tried using FB ads, some have permanent campaigns. There is no way FB would ever leave Europe. They will fight, they will pay, they will protest, but the chances of them leaving are exactly zero.

  • origin_path 14 days ago

    "consumer choice ... insisting all mobile phones standardise"

    Although it's not the most important thing in the world, forcing standardization through law is the opposite of giving consumers choices.

    • jlokier 14 days ago

      I don't think it qualifies as an "opposite", because enforced standards also create consumer choice sometimes.

      Case in point: The enforced standardising of mobile phone chargers has given consumers more choice of chargers to use with their phone. Thas proven quite useful in practice, e.g. when they leave the one that came with their device at home because they didn't expect to need it, or when the manufacturer's own brand is more expensive than an alternative, or if they have an old phone.

      I remember before USB-C standardised phone power, when visiting someone the chance that they had a power supply you could use was very low, because each one used a different connector. Even different models from the same brand. If you went travelling at short notice, you might have to buy a second charger just to keep you going for a few days. That's no longer required. Over the years you would end up with a box full of incompatible chargers, all e-waste. I think I have about 10.

      This particular consumer benefit didn't happen voluntarily among manufacturers (unlike, say, SIM cards), so forcing it has increased consumer choice in some useful respects.

      I prefer Apple's lightning connector (even though I don't have an iPhone), and other connectors better than USB-C would surely emerge if allowed to, so I do see benefits in not enforcing a standard like that too strictly. But the situation before USB-C mobile power was less consumer choice not more, for consumers of almost every phone.

    • Normille 14 days ago

      That's a bit of a disingenuous comment though. I'd make a distinction between forcing standardisation on something like a power supply connector and forcing standardisation of actual products themselves.

      Standardisation of the former means we don't have to have half a dozen sockets on the wall because every domestic appliance manufacturer uses a different design plug... or have each of those sockets provide a different voltage because every appliance manufacturer opted for a different voltage.

      Standardisation of the latter leads to waiting 15 years for your Trabant.

    • Dylan16807 14 days ago

      You lose choice of plug, which almost nobody wanted.

      You gain choice of charger to use with your phone, which most people do want, especially when outside their home.

  • scarface74 14 days ago

    The EU insisting on all phones standardizing on the USB connector is evidence of just the opposite and shows the cluelessness and shortsightness of the EU.

    You will still have phones that come with “standard USB C” cables where some support different power delivery, data speeds (or not support data transfer at all), very few will support video over USB C (which is standardized), etc.

    So still when the Android user with the cheap power only USB C cord moves over to the hypothetical iPhone 15 with USB C, they will still have to throw away their USB C cable that potentially doesn’t support high speed data or video over USB C. Both supported by todays iPads with USB C.

    If the same mandate had gone through when it was first proposed, we would have been stuck with micro USB.

    • ThatPlayer 14 days ago

      Because the mandate is not about phones or data. It's about battery powered devices and charging. I don't need data in the cable for my wireless earbuds, or my battery pack. My toothbrush or my beard trimmer. So that hypothetical USB C cable doesn't have to be thrown away, it can still be used for other devices. Which is why standardization is good.

      • scarface74 14 days ago

        So grab a random “standard” USB C cable. What are the chances that it will charge my MacBook Pro 16 inch that does support “standard” USB C?

        Will that “standard” USB C cable that comes with my Beats Flex headphones charge my iPhone 12 Pro Max? My Anker battery?

        • ignaloidas 14 days ago

          > What are the chances that it will charge my MacBook Pro 16 inch that does support “standard” USB C?

          Most likely yes, unless it's a non-compliant cable in the first place, and possibly at a reduced speed (60W max).

          >Will that “standard” USB C cable that comes with my Beats Flex headphones charge my iPhone 12 Pro Max? My Anker battery?

          Ignoring that iPhones don't have USB C, yes to both at the fastest charge rate available.

          Only times where you have to worry about a cable with USB-C when charging is if charging power exceeds 60W or the cable is optical. Above 60W you need marked cables, some go up to 100W, and some (will, not seen in the wild yet) go up to 240W. There are plans to deprecate the 100W tier as well.

        • ThatPlayer 14 days ago

          Maybe not, but what's the alternative? Should we give up because of incompatibilities and go back to proprietary cables for everyone? Do we move back to DC jacks that offer no voltage negotiation so you can blow up your 5V battery pack with a 24V input?

          You're letting perfect be the enemy of good here.

          Also I think the ideal endgame is that your Beats Flex headphones don't come with cables at all because of standardization. Look at Apple (and most phone manufacturers) no longer packaging chargers.

          • scarface74 14 days ago

            If the aim is to prevent eWaste yes. Someone should be able to buy a “standard” USB access cable and know that it actually work across devices if it is government mandated. If not, what’s the point of the “standard”?

            • ThatPlayer 14 days ago

              Well like you say, it is to prevent ewaste.

              And even the cheapest power only USB cables with the cheapest USB power supply provides "standard" 5V power. If your device doesn't accept that, isn't that a problem with your Macbook and not the cable?

              • scarface74 14 days ago

                How far do you think a 5W USB C cable will get charging a 16 inch laptop?

                The USB standard is fine until the unsuspecting consumer who left the USB C cord to his MacBook Pro 16 goes to a random drug store to pick up a standard “USB C” cable and wonders why their laptop is still going dead after a few hours of heavy use not knowing the cord is incapable of delivering 100W of power.

                Or the hypothetical iPhone 16 user goes to the same store because he wants to watch video on his TV and buys a “standard” USB C cable and finds out that the cable doesn’t support video over USB C - which is part of the standard.

                Not to mention the unsuspecting tourist who wants to back up the pictures and video from his phone to his computer so he won’t incur roaming charges and finds out the USB C cable he purchased is power only.

                • Dylan16807 14 days ago

                  5 watt cables do not exist.

                  Basic cables support 60.

                  It's unfortunate when cables don't say their Gbps, but that's a different issue.

                • ThatPlayer 14 days ago

                  Once again, you're letting perfect be the enemy of good. A 5W USB C cable will charge faster than the perfect universal cable standard that doesn't exist.

                  • scarface74 14 days ago

                    For all intents and purposes, charging at 5W is basically useless on the iPad Pro (which does have USB C) or a MacBook.

        • genewitch 14 days ago

          can it "charge"? yes. The charging circuitry either can query the output voltage of the power supply, or knows what the voltage should be (on insertion, 5VDC) and determines if the wire is too small or too long to support higher wattage. There's a reason that quickcharge et al use 9, 12, 18 volts, same wattage, but compatible with any of old, too long, or too small gauge wires.

          You'll notice weirdness with anything that speaks a different language, i think USB defaults to power delivery, which is 5V @ 2.5A - or whatever. If your charger speaks the same protocol as your device, it will get as much power as it can through whatever cable you use.

          this doesn't speak to other comments about "high speed USB C" - i have plenty of power delivery cables that do decent wattage but cannot transfer data, it doesn't even beep the computer when you plug something in to it.

    • Hamuko 14 days ago

      >So still when the Android user with the cheap power only USB C cord moves over to the hypothetical iPhone 15 with USB C, they will still have to throw away their USB C cable that potentially doesn’t support high speed data or video over USB C.

      Except that it's still a perfectly fine cable for charging, which is what most people do with their cables?

      • scarface74 14 days ago

        As long as you don’t care about data transfers of the very large video and photos that modern phones can create or connecting to a larger screen. If you want to “avoid ewaste” why not “mandate” more than the least common denominator?

        If iPhone users were satisfied with the least common denominator, they would be buying cheap Android phones.

        • AuryGlenz 14 days ago

          The amount of people that transfer videos/photos off of their phone to a computer by any means is absolutely minuscule.

          • scarface74 14 days ago

            So you think the people shooting 4K video and taking RAW pictures are posting them to Instagram?

            The lowest common denominator is the same reason that Bluetooth outside of the Apple ecosystem is such a shit show.

            Android has supported its own proprietary video over micro USB for ages before USB C became more ubiquitous. What are the chances that Android manufactures won’t cheap out and not ship with cables that can support video over USB?

            • unionpivo 14 days ago

              people who know what shooting 4k video means or what RAW format is is probably way less than 10% of all users of smartphones.

              and I am probably overestimating by order of magnitude.

              Most people shoot photos and show them to their friends online. Some of them even share it through sites like Instagram and Facebook or WhatsApp and similar.

              And that is where it ends for most normal people.

              As long as the cable can charge the phone, it will do for the most buyers.

            • genewitch 14 days ago

              people who earn on twitch, instagram, etc use dslr or mirrorless cameras, unless the video requires a phone in hand.

              I know the "standard setup" shown in media, and advertisements, etc shows a ring light with a cellphone using the front facing camera as the recording device, that's just not technologically feasible.

              And for the record, i move 4k and/or 108MP images from my phones via wifi or cellular, using synology diskstation autosync or syncthing, respectively. I've used syncthing to upload unedited 4k30p drone footage with no issues, and when i get home, it will sync to hard disks in addition.

antonymy 14 days ago

The fallout from this should be interesting. This fine is a substantial part (roughly 25%!) of Google's overall revenue from the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, Africa), of which the EU is probably like 90%, at least, of the total, so it's probably toing the line of actually making the EU unprofitable to Google considering the costs of future compliance to avoid being fined again. Worse: this was not as steep as the fine could have been, they could've fined them about double this amount under current regulations, but chose not to. Probably because that would have pushed Google's EU operations into the red for sure and made the decision easy for them.

To be sure the company won't be in trouble financially, their global revenue can cover the fine, but that doesn't stop the EU from potentially being a net loss for the company going forward. Abandoning the EU would be a drastic step, though. It's going to be interesting to see how they adapt to this. Another fine on this scale and I think they will pull out.

  • babelfish 14 days ago

    To be clear, while the fines might make operating in the EU unprofitable, they could just...follow EU regulations...and remain profitable, albeit at a likely lower margin

    • crazygringo 14 days ago

      To be fair, it's often very unclear how regulations relating to markets apply. Which is why lawsuits around them often get reversed on appeal, re-reversed on another appeal, and so on.

      It's often very open to interpretation what constitutes a market, what constitutes bundling, what constitutes dominance, what constitutes monopoly, what even constitutes a product. There's neither such a thing as clear-cut definitions, nor even common sense (since different people's common sense can be diametrically opposed).

      It's things as basic as: is a Sony Walkman with headphones one product or two? What's the difference between Sony requiring you to buy headphones together with the tape player, or Android requiring Google to be the default search? Is "portable cassette player with headphones" a single market, or are "portable cassette players" and "headphones" separate markets?

      There's no such thing as "just follow EU regulations". Google and other observers can genuinely believe it's following them, while a specific EU court and yet other observers can genuinely believe it's breaking them.

      • makomk 14 days ago

        Also, prior to Google throwing vast sums of money at phone companies, Bing was paying off many EU mobile phone providers to install Bing as the default search engine on all their Android-based devices and lock users out from changing it to anything else. Since those companies were government-enforced oligipolies, this meant ordinary users effectively couldn't get devices that sent their searches to Google or anyone other than Bing in many countries unless they went off-piste and bought their own device online from someone other than their mobile provider (which doesn't work a lot of the time these days with 4G calling). This could well end up substantially reducing consumer choice in a way that directly hurts Google. In fact, an astounding chunk of the Google anti-trust actions from the EU seem aimed at giving Bing unearned advantages...

      • ephbit 14 days ago

        > What's the difference between Sony requiring you to buy headphones together with the tape player, or Android requiring Google to be the default search?

        Sony and headphones together with tape player ... there's a synergy there, when they can sell them together, it's a small one though. (Selling two pieces of hardware together generates more turnover with one transaction.)

        With Android requiring Google to be the default search ... in comparison to the headphones there's a huge synergy here, I'd say. Collecting data (via non search software on the Android phone) and adding to it more data from search, makes all data more valuable in a very non-linear way. With the tape player I'd say it's more linear.

        So for me, the search data is a quite obvious non-neutrality issue.

        • crazygringo 14 days ago

          I just meant it as a rhetorical question... just to point out that what is obvious for one person, the opposite is obvious for another. And so just "following regulations" doesn't always necessarily have any kind of objective way to do it -- as evidenced by courts often disagreeing with each other in specific situations.

          • ephbit 14 days ago

            I think I understood what you were after, giving an example, that is.

            When I read the example though, I immediately thought it didn't quite ring true. So I tried to explain to myself why and came up with what I wrote.

            Even though there are obviously many examples one could give, where it'd indeed be difficult to see a difference, I didn't want to let this specific example go unchallenged. Why? Because it is so close to the actual topic (Google).

      • rodgerd 14 days ago

        > What's the difference between Sony requiring you to buy headphones together with the tape player, or Android requiring Google to be the default search?

        Because of the tying of third-parties, I don't think that this is an equivalent comparison. This is more like going into the record store (since we're going back to the 80s with our Walkman) and finding that you think the Walkman comes with garbage headphones. So you pick up a Panasonic player and the headphones you want. Then you pick up a couple of tapes that you wanted to listen to, get to the counter, and the store owner explains that those albums are on the BMG label, so he can't sell them to you. In fact, he can't sell any Sony Music group cassettes unless you own those shitty Sony headphones, because if he does, Sony Music won't let him sell any more Sony Music albums in his store.

    • antonymy 14 days ago

      That's probably the goal, but Google is probably going to have anxiety about getting fined again if their compliance is not enough. Except in this case, the fines are so steep that it'd be very hard to over-spend on compliance. But it's just a race to the bottom in any case, Google only stands to make less and less money in the EU from now on.

      • dangjc 14 days ago

        It’s not walking on egg shells. It’s very clear directions to avoid anti competitive behavior. Maybe it’s harder without a moral compass telling them to not be evil.

    • ranman 14 days ago

      EU regulations + individual country restrictions are written in a way that's allergic to running a profitable business (with a few notable exceptions).

      • DandyDev 14 days ago

        That seems like hyperbole to me. Did you do concrete research/calculations to prove that for example Google in this case would not be able to turn a profit in the EU when they'd comply to regulations?

  • uni_rule 14 days ago

    I hate that fines proportional to the revenue giant companies make from doing shady shit are the exception and not the rule

  • ocdtrekkie 14 days ago

    Bear in mind a global company like Google would much rather operate in the EU in the red than pull out. Simply because Google only survives on being a monopoly, and leaving one of the biggest global markets makes too much room for a competitor to develop that can eventually challenge them across the world.

  • weatherlite 14 days ago

    The EU seems fine with the idea actually - it wants more independence on technology and said so several times. There will be many many pissed off European users for sure but that never stopped the EU elite from making a decision. Still - seems like a reach to me.

    • antonymy 14 days ago

      I just remember when the EU passed that legislation that made it legal for member states to require Google to pay a fee to newspapers for linking to their content in Google News. Only a few countries bothered to try enforcing it, notably Spain did, and the result was Google called their bluff and de-listed every newspaper in Spain from Google News. It did not take long until Spain relented and permitted newspapers to waive the requirement with exemptions (i.e. allow status quo ante), which is exactly what happened for the bulk of them.

      Google definitely wants to stay in this market, but I don't think the EU has as much leverage as they think.

      • nephanth 13 days ago

        This is weird though: if Google news delisted every newspaper from Spain, wouldn't that lead to Spanish users ditching Google news (and finding an alternative)? It's not like they're interested in non-spanish news

  • locallost 14 days ago

    They do 200 billion in ad sales a year. Without checking the data, I am pretty sure the EU is at least their third largest market, if not the second. This is definitely a lot less than a 1/4 of their revenue and they're not going anywhere.

  • cush 14 days ago

    Imagine Google had to find a different revenue model than harvesting and selling personal information? What would they even do? Could Cloud or Workspace even prop up the company?

pmontra 14 days ago

Google's reaction.

> We are disappointed that the Court did not annul the decision in full. Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world.

s/Android/Windows/ and s/Europe/USA/ and it could be Microsoft at the end of the antitrust case in the 90s.

  • josefx 14 days ago

    > Android has created more choice for everyone

    Same way IE did back when Microsoft provided it for "free".

mritun 14 days ago

Extremely interesting point in this ruling that I have never seen before and I guarantee is sending shockwaves to the boardrooms is the definition of market. In this ruling EU chose to define the market as “Android phone manufacturers all over the world except China”.

Of course that definition is very peculiar. I was doubtful that it would stick but apparently it did.

This is fascinating that a regulator can define market as “users of YOUR_PRODUCT excluding all competitors you thought AND across the world EXCEPT the very place where everything is made”.

Now that it has stuck, it would change the dynamics of business. It started with tech but its going to trickle down :)

  • ThatPlayer 14 days ago

    The market they're interested in is the EU. So "all over the world except China" includes the EU. Defining the market as the region the governing authority has power over is nothing new: The FTC rules on the US market, the European Commission rules on the EU market.

p-e-w 14 days ago

> This is Google's third EU antitrust fine. Previously, the search giant was fined in a shopping case and an online advertising case.

Apparently, "three strikes and you're out" only applies to individuals, who with a repeat offense of this magnitude would have their lives destroyed by the justice system, and get locked away for a decade or more.

  • jefftk 14 days ago

    While the EU doesn't use a "three strikes" model, they do use progressively higher fines and other consequences for repeat offenses. If Google had ignored the 2017 Google Shopping order, for example, they would have lost a repeat investigation relatively quickly and there would have been very large fines. But instead, they changed how the product works, in a way that looks like they're responding to the decision and trying to follow it.

    In a company with as many independent lines of business as Google has it's possible to have multiple instances of anti-trust enforcement that don't look like "we already fined you but you're continuing with the prohibited behavior", and the Android, Ads, and Shopping cases do all look really different. Plus they're covering overlapping time periods, which limits how much the regulator can say "you should have listened to us before".

    (Disclosure: I used to work at Google)

  • otippat 14 days ago

    I don't think three-strikes laws exist anywhere other than in the US to be honest.

    • hemloc_io 14 days ago

      noone else is as beholden to baseball metaphors as us.

      There's even judges who love baseball so much they quote it in opinions lol.

      • asddubs 14 days ago

        when will the sport of baseball stop wreaking havoc on the justice system at last?

      • justnotworthit 14 days ago

        Whenever someone goes in a long baseball analogy to make a point, i start looking around the room uncomfortably.

    • p-e-w 14 days ago

      But whether it's a repeat offense is taken into account by almost every criminal justice system. A first-time thief might get off with a light sentence by claiming that they needed money and made a stupid mistake. That's not going to fly when it happens for the third time.

    • tzs 14 days ago

      New Zealand had one until last month, when it was repealed. Their ACT and National parties have said they will bring it back if they ever get a chance.

      I don't know enough about New Zealand politics to know if those parties have a chance of actually doing so.

      • rodgerd 14 days ago

        They're sleepwalking to a win in the next election, sadly[1].

        [1] I say sadly, less because I like the current government, and more because they seem desperate to import Bannon-esque culture war nonsense like attacking women's rights.

  • synu 14 days ago

    Wow, what country has three fines and you go to jail for a decade? That sounds intense.

    • foepys 14 days ago

      RICO laws in the United States work that way.

      > Under RICO, a person who has committed "at least two acts of racketeering activity" drawn from a list of 35 crimes (27 federal crimes and eight state crimes) within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering if such acts are related in one of four specified ways to an "enterprise." Those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $25,000 and sentenced to 20 years in prison per racketeering count. In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of "racketeering activity."

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racketeer_Influenced_and_Corru...

      The Wikipedia article also lists a few famous cases.

  • dahfizz 14 days ago

    I don't believe Europe has three strike laws. Anyway, in the US, three strike laws only apply to criminal charges and not civil ones.

    • sgjohnson 14 days ago

      > Anyway, in the US, three strike laws only apply to criminal charges and not civil ones.

      And not even to all criminal charges. Three strike laws usually apply only to felonies.

  • BiteCode_dev 14 days ago

    We really need the equivalent of jail time for companies. Clearly after a certain size, fines do not cut it. Jailing executives is too hard, so laws should exist that remove the company from a market for x years or something, like if they were in a cell.

    • guitarbill 14 days ago

      > Jailing executives is too hard

      Do you mean "too difficult" or "too bigger punishment"? Either way, I disagree. If they reap the reward of huge salaries, they ought to take some of the risks.

      • dahfizz 14 days ago

        Proving guilt is difficult. Execs can and do go to jail when it can be proved they personally did something illegal.

        Guilt by association is not acceptable in a first world country. You don't go to jail if your brother commits a crime, you shouldn't go to jail if your company commits a crime. You only go to jail if you commit a crime.

        • tomxor 14 days ago

          > Guilt by association is not acceptable in a first world country. You don't go to jail if your brother commits a crime

          Staw man. The only way that is comparable is if you oversaw your brothers career and received part of his income... if he then committed a crime (from which you benefited), then yes, you could be held part accountable.

          Execs are not merely "associated", they are responsible and receive excessive compensation directly derived from the actions of the organisation they oversee. If a corporate crime is committed on their watch they could be held accountable, if not through direct involvement, through negligence - allowing it to take place by not exerting enough oversight or management... to say otherwise would be similar to allowing people to drive cars negligently killing people without consequence, the analogy is not exact, since the car (the organisation) is not purely mechanical and has some degree of autonomy which is where these matters are not cut and dry, and those would be the finer points of a case exploring whether an individual subverted reasonable oversight or not - in the inexact analogy you could say, whether one of the wheels decided to ignore instructions, or whether the driver (exec) wasn't event bothering to steer.

      • BiteCode_dev 14 days ago

        Too difficult: you need to prove they knew and took a series of actions to get there, but it's very hard to do, and they usually have fall guys all the way to protect themselves. It's also easier than ever to destroy evidence.

        The cost of going after those companies is ridiculous already, once they are proven guilty, it would be simpler if we could punish the company as a person, than to find a real person to punish. After all, companies are very happy to be persons for other legal purposes.

        • capableweb 14 days ago

          > Too difficult: you need to prove they knew and took a series of actions to get there, but it's very hard to do, and they usually have fall guys all the way to protect themselves. It's also easier than ever to destroy evidence.

          Make it illegal not to have a "custody trace" of how a decision came to be. Even if the CEO came up with it in the shower, for the thing to be implemented, it has to come across a lot of individuals. Make them having to keep all of that data around, and required to disclose how something came to be in case it's revealed as unlawful.

          • feanaro 14 days ago

            Yeah, that surely wouldn't grind everything to a halt and effectively make the existence of non-megacorporations impossible.

            No, what should instead be done is prevent the existence of these megacorporations which have disproportionate influence on humanity in the first place. Prevent them to form and chop up the existing ones aggressively into smaller ones.

            • lioeters 14 days ago

              I've long suspected that these "megacorporations" are nurtured for national security reasons, to consolidate and project power. The disproportionate influence is by design, a feature not a flaw. Especially since those who make the rules are owned by such powers themselves, including those responsible for intelligence (corporate spying, undermining workers unions) and regulation (not preventing Metalphabetamazons from dominating a wide range of industries).

              • yamtaddle 14 days ago

                This has at times been explicit policy. It's a big part of how Japan (re-)joined the developed world so fast after WWII—they gave a few megacorporations a captive home market to keep them healthy & safe, used incentives to get them to pool R&D money and share the output, then set them loose on foreign markets.

        • skywal_l 14 days ago

          Maybe but when you are CEO, the fact of "not knowing" should not protect you from consequences. If not jail, at least being banned from being a corporate officer in any capacity and relinquish your stocks/benefits/whatever so at least you remove the profit motive of fraud.

      • ocdtrekkie 14 days ago

        Yup. And if you put Sundar Pichai and Mark Zuckerberg in jail for a year or two, watch the tech industry whip itself into shape in weeks. Hold people actually responsible for the damage they do and you'll see real change.

        • robertlagrant 14 days ago

          I doubt that giving the power to overseas nations to criminalise and incarcerate US citizens has no downsides.

          • cyphar 14 days ago

            Believe it or not, committing a crime in a foreign country as a US citizen will result in you being incarcerated in said country regardless of your citizenship status.

            • einpoklum 14 days ago

              Most crimes committed by US citizens in foreign countries are in the context of their military service: War crimes. And instead of being incarcerated for those, they just complete their tour of duty and go home. With any luck there's some public outcry about their crimes, but often not even that. The US is also not party to the Rome statute (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome_Statute), and has even threatened to personally target International Criminal Court employees if they try to prosecute US citizens.

              ... but I suppose you're right about more mundane, non-government-sanctioned crimes.

            • robertlagrant 14 days ago

              I do believe it. But that's not relevant, because OP is talking about an additional power.

              • cyphar 14 days ago

                In that case the argument should be about whether or not it should be a criminal offense at all (meaning whether European CEOs should be jailed in the case of malicious actions against their users). The fact it would theoretically extend to people in the US (good luck extraditing them) is IMHO not really an important thing to consider.

                • robertlagrant 14 days ago

                  Well, that was the example this thread was talking about. You could change the topic and make what we were talking about unimportant, but that seems a bit churlish to phrase it that way : - )

          • markdestouches 14 days ago

            You are already eligible for punishment for crimes committed in foreign countries. I don't see how this makes things any different.

            • robertlagrant 14 days ago

              Some crimes, yes. If it doesn't make things different, then there's nothing to change. If it does change things, then that's because the US would be allowing it for non-crimes.

          • ocdtrekkie 14 days ago

            Both individuals have committed crimes (perjury, for starters) here in the United States as well. We can jail them here!

            • robertlagrant 14 days ago

              They can certainly be jailed for crimes, yes.

          • registeredcorn 14 days ago

            I understand what you mean, but keep in mind that many nations do have extradition treaties with one another.

    • darkwater 14 days ago

      But this would hit on workers who might be really innocent/unaware, depending on their roles. If you go this way, then just jail current/past executives, it would be more fair.

      • BiteCode_dev 14 days ago

        On the short run, yes. But on the long run, that would be more effective. Once the customers and workers have been burned once, they will be very hesitant to give their trust to the company again.

        Companies would then have to get their things in order quickly, and win back the trust. A very effective deterrent.

        Imagine Google being out of the EU market for 3 months. How many youtubers would try and publish their videos on other plateforms? That would open competitions. People would boo google everytime they suck because they would fear for themself.

        It would create pain right now, but a sane pressure that would force companies to stop playing with fire because they know they can't get a bad burn.

        • everforward 14 days ago

          Google exiting the market for 3 months would have enormous economic impact, in a bad way. They're too integrated into the economy to "just" close them out of the economy for 3 months.

          The world could tolerate YouTube being gone for a while.

          What about Android though? Is the entire world supposed to replace their phone while Play Services are down, and Android isn't getting security updates?

          What about GCP? How many businesses are also going to be shut down when GCP suddenly stops working? They might migrate, but that's not something you can do overnight.

          What about Gmail? Email communications would be shattered for a while, since so many people will need a new email provider and will have to distribute that out. God forbid anyone forgot their password and can't reset it because Gmail doesn't work.

          What about G Suite? Do all these other businesses just suddenly lose access to their documents? That would royally screw a lot of businesses.

          You can't "just" shut down Google without a whole host of second-order effects.

          • ClumsyPilot 14 days ago

            > Google exiting the market for 3 months would have enormous economic impact, in a bad way

            so too big to fail. Like with banks, they should be allowed to do anything with impunity and we should use taxpayer money to bail them out when they fuck up?

            • everforward 14 days ago

              I'm not saying they shouldn't be punished, I'm saying that the specific punishment of suddenly shutting them down is going to punish everyone.

              E.g. we could simply seize all profits for 3 months, so Google sees no profit but the world can keep spinning. We could fine them a % of their cash holdings, if we wanted to. We could force them to split off lines of business so we don't have to worry about a catastrophic failure if we do need to kill the whole business.

              I just don't think suddenly shutting them down is the right move. There are ways to punish them with far less collateral damage.

          • BiteCode_dev 14 days ago

            You put everything read only, and you give a 2 years notice before applying the sentence.

            What do you think inflation is ? Their externalities being taxed on the population. Since we have to pay no matter what, at least they should feel it too.

            • everforward 14 days ago

              > You put everything read only, and you give a 2 years notice before applying the sentence.

              This is probably still a multi-billion dollar cost when spread across the economy. There are going to be tens of thousands of workers who now have to work on migrating off Gmail/GCP/GSuite rather than doing anything actually productive. A migration like that is usually a multi-year effort, involving huge man-hour expenditures.

              We could just set a fine equal to their profit for X months and accomplish roughly the same thing without upending half the businesses in the world.

              > What do you think inflation is ? Their externalities being taxed on the population. Since we have to pay no matter what, at least they should feel it too.

              Inflation is a decrease in the value of currency, and the causes are not well-understood. Pinning it on Google is pretty spurious. We had low inflation through years of Google doing shady things. I can't ascribe a cause to inflation, but I can pretty confidently say that Google doing shady things isn't the major cause.

    • perlgeek 14 days ago

      I agree that we need better enforcement mechanisms, but I'm not sold on a "time out".

      What would that even mean? If you aren't allowed to participate in the Maps business for, let's say, 2 years, does that mean you cannot offer the app for download? Then everybody stays on the old version, and cannot install security updates.

      Or that you cannot offer it as a new install? Then people changing their phones are screwed.

      Or that you cannot offer new maps? Then people rely on the old ones, running into permanently closed roads.

      Or that your servers must immediately stop serving map tiles? Customer's won't be very happy about that either.

      That you cannot make any revenue from the service? Kinda hard to do when your service is maps, but the revenue source is ads.

      And so on, ad infinitum.

      Consumers tend to switch apps pretty quickly, but what about b2b software? Switching over to a database from another vendor can easily be a 3 to 5 years project, so it's likely that many customers would simply sit out such a jail time.

      • BiteCode_dev 14 days ago

        First, 2 years is too long, because the consequences are very heavy. But a 2 months of service interruptions of youtube, google doc and gmap wouldn't crash the world, but would be so painful people would find alternatives quickly and never rely just on one monopoly again.

      • ignaloidas 14 days ago

        I think just making so that for the next year a set % of revenues that are associated with the product in question get fined would be fine.

    • rodgerd 14 days ago

      > We really need the equivalent of jail time for companies.

      I would love this, but there are so many irritating practical problems with it that I'd prefer we expand the cases where we can "pierce the corporate veil"; we should absolutely shield people from personal liability from good-faith failures when we work for a company, but when we see fraud, wage theft, and so on, we should be a great deal more willing to chase personal liability for decision-makers.

      Something that's driven a big change in safety culture in New Zealand was allowing certain types of health and safety prosecutions to proceed against individuals, so that (for example) a site manager who decides that start-of-day hazard briefings on a building site are a waste of 15 minutes can be fined or even imprisoned if someone ends up hurt as a result.

    • registeredcorn 14 days ago

      Pretty much what I was thinking too! If your company has violated the law previously in the same or similar manner, you should not be permitted to sell to customers in that market for the equivalent amount of time an individual would be jailed for. I am not opposed to the concept of treating a corporation as a legal entity, but I think that if a corporation is going to be considered a legal entity, they should inherit the same legal consequences a human would incur, if they break the law.

      Realistically speaking, I don't see many politicians supporting this kind of change. I'm not even thinking of the issues around corruption, but merely the knowledge that hurting that company would in turn, also impact their own economy in the process.

      Imagine if no business of a nation were searchable in Google for a 4 year period. It would be devastating.

      Similarly, there are a lot of physical consequences to consider as well. If you lock out a company like Apple or Coke from operating in a country, suddenly there are a lot of related issues.

      If Apple could not operate in a specific nation for a set amount of time, suddenly any stores they have would presumably be closed. This would impact customers ability to get their devices repaired. I would also have to assume that all employees at each of those locations would be fired, leaving a sudden glut of unemployment, impacting people who had nothing to do with the situation.

      If Coke were to be banned for some set amount of time, it would make a lot of weird cases around things like Vending Machines and Grocery stores. The company might not be marketing or selling their products to distributors, but those distributors might still be selling that product. Once their stock ran out, if they were to attempt to purchase more from the company in a nearby country, who would be at fault? Coke, or the distributor?

      I imagine it would create a ton of issues with other things, like agreements to pay X amount of money over time. Stock trading would be another big one, not just in individual stocks, but in mutual funds and ETFs that might be heavily invested in that company. In one sense, it might make investors and day traders more weary and discerning from who they decide to trade with, but trying to figure out which company is breaking which laws, and how likely they are to get caught doing it, is practically impossible to determine, without inside knowledge on the matter.

    • samwillis 14 days ago

      Rather than fine the company, fine the shareholders of public companies. If they can’t afford their share of the fine, then they have to sell their shares to pay it.

      That would immediately force them to comply.

      Edit: Although looking at that and this fine, if you own $1000 of google shares, you would owe $3…

      • madsbuch 14 days ago

        This is an absurd idea.

        That would be a complete detriment to one of the greatest innovations in financing: Seperation of capital and responsibility. When you buy a stock you know you can not loose more than the stocks value, so you dare to invest.

        Also, would bond holders also be burdened with this? what about derivatives?

        • bdefore 14 days ago

          That great innovation is at the root of the market's disregard for negative externalities such as climate change. I'm not in support of jailing shareholders, but say a tax on the dividends of shareholders who front the capital for companies that impose a burden on civilization doesn't sound outrageous to me. Especially since fining the company directly doesn't necessarily discourage bad behavior at the tiers of power that have the ability to take a different path.

        • poizan42 14 days ago

          Maybe a better idea would be to force the company to emit new shares by some percantage of their total number of shares and transfer those to the state. That way shareholders lose a bit of value by dilution. And after enough fines the state will eventually reach a controlling majority ownership and can directly stop the company from further transgressions.

        • BiteCode_dev 14 days ago

          Not that absurd. People would start doing way more due diligences to invest. They would put pressure on the company to not do something stupid.

          You invest in bad actors and want to make money with it? Well you should pay the consequences for that.

      • adament 14 days ago

        But this is exactly what happens when you fine a company.

        Unless you fine the company enough for it to go into bankruptcy in which case the shareholders are protected by limited liability and the creditors take the hit instead. But the bankruptcy angle is completely irrelevant to this case, none of the fines considered are close yo bankrupting Google.

      • registeredcorn 14 days ago

        I have investments in a lot of different companies. I have no idea if any of them are breaking the law. I have to assume that they aren't, because they have not been charged or convicted of any crimes previously. I have done as much due diligence as I can to assume that their company is financially solvent and stable. If they have lied to me about any of those things, I have no way of knowing until after the fact. Leaving my money in a savings account is not an option, because the interest rates are taxed, and don't even cover the cost of inflation, let alone give me any sort of growth for retirement. That means not only would I not preparing for my future, I would actively be losing money by not investing.

        If a country violates international sanctions, should I be sent to The Hauge because I have bonds tied to the bridges and roads being built by that government?

        To put it another way: If a restaurant is shut down for health code violations found in the kitchen, should the valet be lectured about proper food preparation?

  • esperent 14 days ago

    The 3 strikes law is a US thing.

    • Normille 14 days ago

      One of the few areas where I think the US has got it right. No-one should need more than 3 chances to stop being a dick.

      • trasz 14 days ago

        This law results in people landing in jail for being poor: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/cruel-an...

        • dahfizz 14 days ago

          This law results in people landing in jail for being habitual criminals. Being poor does not excuse criminal behavior.

          • johnday 14 days ago

            On the other hand, it appears that being rich does excuse criminal behavior - that is, if you hire a lot of people and get them to work in an office, and they commit crimes, the company gets fined and you don't go to prison (almost always).

            • trasz 14 days ago

              If you hire a lot of people and then steal their wages you don't go to prison either. You can be proven to be a murderer (OJ Simpson) or a child rapist (DuPont, https://www.forbes.com/sites/denizcam/2019/06/14/how-a-du-po...) and you won't get punished if you're wealthy enough. If you are poor, you'll get life sentence for stealing socks. It's not a bug in US judiciary system, it's how the system was designed.

nottorp 14 days ago

> Android has created more choice for everyone, not less

Did it? I can choose between an iOS phone and an Android phone.

I may be able to choose from different manufacturers on the Android side, but on the software side there are just two options.

  • Hamcha 14 days ago

    Remember when Google refused to put Youtube on Windows Phone and when Microsoft made their own client, Google forced them to take it off their own store? Truly advocating for more choice.

    (Press at the time: https://www.theregister.com/2013/08/16/windows_phone_youtube... )

    • sangnoir 14 days ago

      The Microsoft YT client didn't play ads. All it did was cost YouTube bandwidth without bringing any revenue - there was no way Google was going to let that slide.

      More broadly, that was also the time Microsoft was going after Android OEMs - never Google directly - threatening them with a secret list of patents that Android allegedly infringed[1]. The settlement almost always resulted in the OEM agreeing to manufacture Windows phones (HTC and Samsung, off the top of my head). As an outsider, it appeared to be part of a mobile marketshare shadow war.

      1. I'm guessing to prevent invalidation or work-arounds.

      • Hamcha 14 days ago

        Far from me to want to put Microsoft on a pedestal, but it always felt like neither liked playing fair. WP eventually got a third party Youtube app that kinda stuck for a while, but it was paid (and actually decent) and AFAIK it never got any attention from Google, which to me always felt more like Google was trying to be an ass and protecting their revenue... but mostly their Android revenue.

        I was around when Project Astoria almost saw the light of day and I assume Google came back to shoot it down in a similar way (which would be really nice karma given MS patent story)

        • sangnoir 14 days ago

          Project Astoria had weird timing, considering Microsoft initially submitted an amicus brief in Oracle v Google on Oracle's side, i.e. supporting the notion that APIs are copyrightable - which was awkward as Astoria implemented Android APIs. Sometime later, after both sides appealed, MS submitted another amicus - this time on Google's side. Possibly after seeing the light with WSL and Astoria

          • sangnoir 14 days ago

            Oh, and if Google had lost its case against Oracle, they could have gone after Microsoft for Astoria, and the amicus would have been first exhibit to prove willful infringement.

    • MarkusWandel 14 days ago

      I had a Windows phone. The web version of Youtube worked fine. The Youtube app on Android is such a pain in the a* that sometimes I use the web version of Youtube on an Android tablet I have!

      • nfriedly 14 days ago

        You should check out Vanced / ReVanced. Vanced is basically a modified Youtube app with ads removed and a lot of the other annoyances fixed. It's gotten trickier to find since google sent them a nastygram, but they posted the SHA256 on https://vancedapp.com/ so if you find a copy floating around, you can quickly determine if it's legit or not.

        ReVanced is a WIP set of tools to patch Youtube and other apps - https://github.com/revanced

        Vanced and Iceraven (Firefox with more addons enabled) are two of the main things keeping me on Android.

        • nephanth 13 days ago

          Newpipe is another good alternative client. Bypasses ads, plays audio in the background, allows downloading videos and even subscribing to channels without an account (the app simply monitors updates on that channel)

      • oblak 14 days ago

        I have only used the android version once and what a pain that was. Clearly designed to only push content on the unsuspecting user and nothing else.

    • kernal 14 days ago

      Yes, I do remember. You, however, seem to have conveniently left out the fact that they illegally reverse engineered the protocol and filtered ads. Microsoft got what was coming to them.

  • izacus 14 days ago

    And before that you could choose between multiple brands that wouldn't run the same software and could only download apps on a proprietary carrier app store.

    Someone built an app for Nokia Symbian phones and released it with O2 UK? Well, go to hell if you had Sony Ericsson Symbian phone because that phones Symbian was incompatible on API level with the Nokia, despite having the same OS. You could even have the same Nokia, but good luck if yours had the T-Mobile DE bloatware and their own store with their own profit sharing deals.

    Google enforces compatibility between Android phones with CDD/CTS/VTS which ensures that the phones support a consistent set of working APIs that application devs can rely on.

    Before CTS/CDD/VTS tests grew enough, we Android devs had hellova time making sure our apps worked across Samsungs, LGs, Nokias and whatnot.

    EU attacking Google for ensuring the Android ecosystem is actually compatible is just ensuring that Apple will dominate with it's lack of choice in the mobile market. The fact that EU officials excluded Apple from consideration of how mobile markets work is telling just how disconnected from reality they are. Apple swept away all the old competitors BECAUSE it didn't have the fragmented mess of lacking cross-device, cross-region and cross-carrier compatibility.

    And just to be clear - I'm not against EU issuing out fines to big tech (god knows I've defended that a lot of times), but in this case it's actively toxic for us Europeans.

  • Salgat 14 days ago

    What they did with their manufacturers is a different issue, but in general they offer a lot more options than Apple. Android allows Manufacturers (such as Amazon and Samsung) to have their own app stores and allows for side loading apps, both of which are impossible with Apple.

    • Hamcha 14 days ago

      You have it backward, Amazon and Samsung's own appstores are desperate attempts to get enough traction out of Play Store so that they are not forced to succumb to Google's demands. The issue here isn't Android not being open (which it is), the problem is Google having a lot of control (including full veto power) on devices shipping with Google Play Services, while making them an increasingly necessary part of Android. You can make an Android device without having to let Big G call the shots, but they're banking on you NOT doing that because no one wants a phone without the Play Store and its related services.

      • cloverich 14 days ago

        Well also, and note its been a while, but when I used non-Google software on the various other phones I've tried (such as Samsung), the first thing I used to do was uninstall all of their software and (if a available) get the Google versions, because they were usually much better. But this isn't new -- back when I was still purchasing Windows machines it was the same way. For whatever reason I just never found an OEM for laptops or phones whose software seemed to add any value.

        Now that I work in Software I get it. Most companies are just really bad at making it.

        • mhermher 14 days ago

          It's hard to find value in something that you immediately uninstall.

      • Salgat 14 days ago

        Apple strictly prohibits any apps outside their app store. Google does not. Yes Google abuses their popularity, but it's leagues better than Apple.

      • o_1 14 days ago

        It's not good. Google should let people opt out. Breaking the trust of it's users makes people rabid for a feasible opptuntiy to leave. Apple starting to monetize data doesn't make a great argument for jumping in that walled garden. Holding your users hostage is not a good look.

  • imiric 14 days ago

    > I may be able to choose from different manufacturers on the Android side, but on the software side there are just two options.

    What do you mean by "just two options"?

    The AOSP ecosystem has a healthy range of ROMs to choose from on many devices. The process of installing alternative firmware may not be for everyone, but the choice is there, which is pretty much nonexistent for iOS devices.

    • Normille 14 days ago

        >The AOSP ecosystem has a healthy range of ROMs to choose from on many devices. 
      
      But it's not true choice is it? It's just the same old same old with a different skin on top. Much the same as the similarly claimed 'choice' in Linux distros pretty much boils down to the same old same old collection of apps running on the same old same old collection of desktop environments. But with eleventy billion superficial skins layered on top, to choose from.
      • wvenable 14 days ago

        I'm not clear on what you want? There are two mobile operating systems, do you want some company to make another one? What is stopping them?

        • kube-system 14 days ago

          Anticompetitive practices are stopping them. That’s the point of these fines. Google controls the predominant non-Chinese marketplace for apps that are compatible with android-based operating systems, and they use it as a hostage to force other device manufacturers to arbitrarily force other google products upon their uses, for the purpose of unfairly expanding their market dominance.

          • wvenable 14 days ago

            Isn't that a whole other level though? Google is being asked to stop forcing distribution of their software so other Android software can compete.

            Either way, you're still going to have 2 operating systems: Android and iOS.

            • kube-system 14 days ago

              It’s a bit of a self reinforcing loop, though. Top apps are all on Google Play because everyone using Android (on this side of the GFW) is all but forced to stay in Google’s ecosystem.

              The diversity of *nix based OSes are a testament to what could happen in the absence of monopolistic powers.

              If it weren’t for Google’s stranglehold, Android probably would already be #2 to a fork made by Samsung.

              • wvenable 14 days ago

                > The diversity of *nix based OSes are a testament to what could happen in the absence of monopolistic powers.

                You mean how they all died and Linux became king?

                The market cannot support diversity of operating systems -- users will flock to where the applications are and developers flock to where the users are. Only a small number of choices are ever sustainable.

                If Android disappeared tomorrow and 10 operating systems were designed to replace it eventually there would be only 1 or 2 surviving.

                If Samsung forked Android it will still need to run Android apps and therefore be Android. That's pretty much exactly what they do now.

                • kube-system 14 days ago

                  Darwin and FreeBSD have huge install bases, and can run many *nix applications, as android can too. OS developers often think about compatibility, at least, when they’re not contractually prohibited from creating their own OS to begin with.

                  There’s no technological reason that you can’t run popular Android apps on other OSes. Other OSes already support running Android apps. The primary reason this isn’t more common is anticompetitive.

      • RNAlfons 14 days ago

        > But it's not true choice is it?

        Compared to what?

        Apple?

      • origin_path 14 days ago

        You can fork AOSP in arbitrary ways and have a pretty great OS. Most companies don't do this because they don't have any particular ideas about how to do Android's core differently - UI is one of the places where you can actually innovate and users will notice, so that's where the effort goes. But that's not Google's fault. They can't make Samsung have brilliant ideas about how to rearchitect the OS core.

        • Normille 14 days ago

            >But that's not Google's fault. They can't make Samsung have brilliant ideas about how to rearchitect the OS core.
          
          Of course not. But that's the point I'm trying to make. The illusion of choice. Out of all eleventy billion versions of Android you can get, who has actually produced something that is truly different, as opposed to just another skin on top of what everyone else has, or a slightly different layout of the same functionality everyone else has?

          Here's one example: text editing on mobile. I'm sure I'm not the only person who finds this excruciating. Especially things like selecting text / copy & pasting etc. And, it's 2022 and we still have no 'undo' function. But, every single variant of Android [and iOS] uses the same horribly flawed text editing functionality. Do any of the eleventy-billion 'alternative' versions of Android address any of this? Of course not. It's so much easier to throw a new skin on top of the same old crap than to actually innovate and make real changes.

          • origin_path 12 days ago

            I agree, but again, that's not Android's fault. Android is necessary but not sufficient for innovation in mobile OS'. You still need people who are willing to take risks and come up with better ideas.

        • Kbelicius 14 days ago

          > But that's not Google's fault. They can't make Samsung have brilliant ideas about how to rearchitect the OS core.

          One of anticompetitive restrictions identified was:

          > ‘anti-fragmentation agreements’, under which the operating licences necessary for the pre-installation of the Google Search and Play Store apps could be obtained by mobile device manufacturers only if they undertook not to sell devices running versions of the Android operating system not approved by Google;

          So no, Samsung can't just fork AOSP.

          • origin_path 14 days ago

            But Google approves forks that are AOSP compatible as checked by an automated test suite. And if Samsung wanted to, they could stop selling phones with the Google apps and switch to their own AOSP fork. They've already laid much of the groundwork after all.

      • malfist 14 days ago

        Are you seriously trying to argue that all linux distros are the same except for their UI?

        • n0tth3dro1ds 14 days ago

          Yep. That’s pretty much the case. They are functionally the same for 99% of users.

        • wiseowise 14 days ago

          Are they not?

          • aembleton 14 days ago

            No, the package management differs between distros

            • nottorp 14 days ago

              As someone who makes a living partially by doing custom distros for arm custom boards (and apps on top of them)... no. There is no difference between linux distros.

              Same for Android flavors for that matter.

              • aembleton 13 days ago

                If there are no differences between linux distros, why does anyone need a custom distro?

    • ClumsyPilot 14 days ago

      That's like saying the Phoebus Cartell was fine because you can make your own lightbulb.

  • that_guy_iain 14 days ago

    Before I could choose the same manufacturers but things were tied to those. I knew if I switched from Nokia to Sony for example, it would be completely different. In a way Android resulted in the choice to switch between manufacturers to be painless. Realistically, now you can choose whatever non apple device you want and know everything will continue to work.

    • ocdtrekkie 14 days ago

      Easy to switch between giving all your data to Google and giving all your data to Google, sure. Bear in mind, Android hardware is no longer unique or distinctive, every glass rectangle is the same, so those choices are pointless, but our lack of privacy is pervasive.

      • that_guy_iain 14 days ago

        Steve Jobs pointed this out along time ago. No one cares about the hardware. Nice hardware is nice but what we care about is the software.

        Previously, we would switch from Nokia to Sony we would lose our ringtones, our games, our apps, our photos, etc. When each phone operator had their own operating system, it was honestly terrible.

        And honestly, shoehorning privacy into a conversation about choices in phones is a poor show. Feel ashamed.

        • ocdtrekkie 14 days ago

          Privacy is the top concern I have with phones. The fact that 80% of them globally are compromised by default is a huge deal. Nobody informed should be rolling with Android, anywhere, and yet here we are.

          Also, I care about hardware... when it matters. Sell me a keyboard slider, the DROID 4 was the last compelling reason to care about hardware and we've all been bored senseless since.

          • that_guy_iain 14 days ago

            If privacy is a top concern why are you walking around with a tracking device. Even without Google. It's literally a tracking device.

            • ocdtrekkie 14 days ago

              This is a defeatist justification for using Android that fails to account for the fact that neither Apple nor anyone whose app is on my phone knows where it is right now.

              My cell carrier has a non-precise idea of where it is, but may not be able to tie it conclusively to my identity.

              • that_guy_iain 14 days ago

                Your cell carrier will be able to pinpoint your location very accurately in a urban location. If you look at people getting convicted of various crimes you'll see the location data they're able to extract from the phone number.

                Also, they will almost certainly be able to tie it to your identity even on a burner phone by who you contact. If you have a contract then obivously they will tie it. If you have a pay as you go and make payments via non cash methods then that will be tied. Cash payments and the location you made them from will help conclusively tie it to your identity with a half decent amount of work.

                You are able to disable gps hardware on some Android phones. But as previously noted, no matter who your phone manufacturer is, it is a tracking device.

  • ehsankia 14 days ago

    But what did Google do that's worse than what Apple did? It's a bit ironic that by making their OS opensource, they somehow are more guilty than Apple for keeping their OS locked down.

    Android allows hundreds of companies to have a business and make millions or billions, many of which are in EU and wouldn't exist if Android had gone the Apple way.

  • amelius 14 days ago

    If you're looking for a phone without ads/spyware, there is less choice because the EU sees Android as a similar product-category as iOS, thereby not identifying iOS as a monopoly (and Android as well, in its own category).

    • ericmay 14 days ago

      I think you can argue that iOS/Android are a duopoly but I'm having a hard time seeing how iOS is a monopoly.

      Mobile OS: iOS Android (third options from Korea/China?)

      Hardware: iPhone Pixel Galaxy etc.

mdrzn 14 days ago

Yesss! EU is doing its job.

I'm very happy every time they manage to give a slap on the wrist of these monopolies

  • moffkalast 14 days ago

    Wrist slaps are getting slightly stronger though!

RandomWorker 14 days ago

That increases the budget of the eu parliament with 2.2% on a yearly basis if paid out in one go.

[1082B for 2014-2020, 4B/1082B*6y~2.2%]

A loss of 4B is a decrease of revenue by 1.5% for google.

[googles revenue was 256B in 2021 4/256~1.5%]

  • bzxcvbn 14 days ago

    The budget of the EU parliament? What do you mean? The budget of the parliament was about 740k€ in 2022.

    Did you mean the budget of the EU itself? It's about what you said (180B€ in 2022). Of course, that doesn't account for individual member States' budgets. The EU's budget is dwarfed by the aggregate of all members' budgets, and it is lower than most of the big EU countries' budgets.

    • 988747 14 days ago

      Did you mean 740k EUR per person? I can't find the whole budget right now, but it costs EU parliament over 100 million just to move it back and forth between Brussels and Strasbourg (which is totally pointless and is only done so that France can feel important). They also apparently spend 1 billion per year on translators.

      EDIT: I guess I offended some French people, hence the downvotes :)

      • nightpool 14 days ago

        Apparently this is correct:

        > In [2014], the European Court of Auditors (ECA) carried out a further analysis of the potential savings if all meetings were held in Brussels, following a request from the Parliament. Their estimate of the cost of the monthly move is 113.800.000 euro.

        (From an EJTA fact checking website, which labeled a separate 200MM euro number as "mostly false" https://eufactcheck.eu/factcheck/mostly-false-travelling-cir...)

      • manholio 14 days ago

        > They also apparently spend 1 billion per year on translators.

        Now that the UK is out of the Union, it would be nice for sanity to prevail and most of those translators be made redundant. Except for drafting official multi-language legal documents, the bulk of the proceedings can go on in English, and EMPs that require translation services should request them from their own countries.

        It will never happen, but one can surely dream.

        • ignaloidas 14 days ago

          EU publishes tons of written material, and basically all of it has to be translated. Costs for translating the proceedings are very likely less than 1% of total costs for translation.

          • manholio 14 days ago

            > EU publishes tons of written material, and basically all of it has to be translated.

            But only legislative text needs to have translated versions officially recognized as equivalent. The rest can be produced and published in English, and member countries can translate them as required, if necessary. It's a huge expense that exists only to placate French linguistic nationalism.

            • mqus 14 days ago

              Well, Imagine your government (the EU is not far off of being one) is now handling everything in spanish, even though your country speaks english and english is your official language. Lets be generous and there are only about 10% of people not speaking spanish. Is it really ok that there are official documents, meeting notes, publications, advertisements,web sites, videos etc in spanish and only the most important ones get translated to your language?

              For companies this would completely fine. For a government this is not.

              Apart from that, there is right now a huge source of text that is publicly available and already translated into the same X languages, with a huge quality to boost. People have teached ML translators with that text source. Ofc this is just a side effect but these translations have made other translations and communication in the EU a bit more simple just by being such a big reference.

        • FridayoLeary 14 days ago

          Sanity is not one of the hallmarks of the monster that is the EU bureaucracy.

      • Fiahil 14 days ago

        > EDIT: I guess I offended some French people, hence the downvotes :)

        Yes.

        But I have to recognise, they could - at least - hand out "free" train tickets to most of the Parliament staff. Not just between Brussels and Strasbourg, but everywhere in the EU.

  • markdestouches 14 days ago

    Gives you a good perspective on how big google is and how much influence it potentially has.

  • spywaregorilla 14 days ago

    EMEA represents about 31% of revenues. Google makes about 76B in net income.

    So another way to look at this is 21% of profits in Europe for a year.

    • josefx 14 days ago

      Another way to look at this is 2% if you split it over all the years the illegal behavior has been going on and then going through the courts.

  • davidguetta 14 days ago
    • statusfailed 14 days ago

      It mostly funds projects:

      > Approximately 94% of the EU budget funds programmes and projects both within member states and outside the EU. Less than 7% of the budget is used for administrative costs, and less than 3% is spent on EU civil servants' salaries.

      From [0], see also [1]

      [0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_the_European_Union#P...

      [1]: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/about-parliament/en/organisat...

      • origin_path 14 days ago

        That's a tautology, the spending for every government will primarily go on "programmes and projects".

    • WastingMyTime89 14 days ago

      Negotiate trade agreements for the second largest market in the world. Make harmonised law and regulations and operate the courts associated. Finance infrastructure projects and the development of the poorest members. Manage various cooperation efforts between members in sector like education.

      • PartiallyTyped 14 days ago

        EU needs to do a better job at showing how useful it is, where the money goes and so on, so that people stop having this vague idea of what EU is and does, and start seeing the benefits. Should do a good job at reducing the number of eurosceptics.

        • AshamedCaptain 14 days ago

          Funny. I just heard literally the opposite complain a couple hours ago: that the EU advertisements are getting obnoxious. Virtually every single infrastructure project that is even partially financed by a EU agency shows all the appropriate logos almost everywhere.

          • KAMSPioneer 14 days ago

            Ha, I can see why; I work in an institute that receives funds from time to time for infrastructure enhancements and large projects. We have those logos scattered throughout some equipment, hanging in rooms, etc. It's far from intrusive, though. I would rather see a sign that says "EU helped pay for this" than product placement, if I'm being candid.

    • dkarl 14 days ago

      If you're interested, there's a fascinating book called Life of a European Mandarin that provides an insider view and manages to be entertainingly written despite being about the incredibly dry work the EU does. It gives a vivid glimpse into how hard and tedious it is to accomplish things that are obvious wins like harmonizing trivial differences in laws across borders. You would expect it to be the kind of book you have to force yourself to finish, and there are certainly moments like that, but overall it reads more like a guilty pleasure, and I highly recommend it. It gave me respect for that kind of work and also makes me very glad I chose a different profession.

    • mhh__ 14 days ago

      The EU has a GDP of almost 20 Trillion, what kind of magnitudes of cash would you expect?

    • otikik 14 days ago

      You mean The European Parlament, or Google?

    • saiya-jin 14 days ago

      if you would actually visit (not only) poorer parts of EU, you would find entire new roads built or repaired completely by EU funds. Parks created, playgrounds built, many many useful things for common population. Companies can apply for various funds ie to get more eco-friendly.

      Its true that some of it gets stolen by local corruption but overall this is the source of many good things that folks can actually see around them, in places that wouldn't get any otherwise.

gniv 14 days ago

It's interesting how the two continents are keeping each other in check when it comes to major abuses. The EU fining big US tech and the US fining VW are the prominent examples. In each case the home country has big incentives to keep the status quo fully aware that it's bad for consumers.

  • curiousgal 14 days ago

    I can't help but roll my eyes at the hypocrisy of the EU. One prime example is French websites forcing you to pay 3 euros when you refuse cookies.

endisneigh 14 days ago

It’s not clear to me what the EU, specifically, wants Google to do here from the article. Any insight?

  • perlgeek 14 days ago

    Pay a fine, first of all :-)

    Wikipedia has more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antitrust_cases_against_Google...

    > In October 2018 Google revamped how it would distribute its Google Play Store with Android in the future: Charging a licensing fee for the store, without requiring installation of Google apps, but making it free to pre-install the Google apps if they want.

    > Furthermore, Google's hardware partners will be allowed to market devices in the EU that run rival versions of Android or other operating systems.

    > In March 2019 Google announced that it will give European users of Android phones an option of which browser and search engine they want on their phone at the time of purchase to further comply with the EU's decision.

  • layer8 14 days ago

    For example, not require that Chrome be preinstalled as the default browser on Android devices, and not require that a bundle of Google apps be preinstalled if any of them is preinstalled.

    • wara23arish 14 days ago

      there is no way to delete safari from iphones

      • layer8 14 days ago

        That’s Apple’s choice as the manufacturer of the device, while Google enforces conditions on Android device manufacturers. Apple would have the same problem if they would allow other companies to build iOS devices but force Safari to be the preinstalled as the default browser AND derive ad income from the use of Safari.

        • kevin_thibedeau 14 days ago

          Microsoft chose to have desktop browser integration as the manufacturer of Windows. That didn't protect them from fines.

          • layer8 14 days ago

            That’s not the same situation, Microsoft didn’t manufacture the PCs.

      • hellisothers 14 days ago

        I know it’s a nuance but Apple doesn’t license its OS to other manufacturers. So while Google dictates “if you use the Android OS you must bundle Chrome”, Apple isn’t dictating terms like that to another manufacturer.

        • endisneigh 14 days ago

          Technically Google isn’t really making anyone use Play Store, either. They’re free to use AOSP and bundle their own set of apps, no?

          In fact, I’d argue these rules the EU enforces are counter productive. Manufacturers should fork android and band together and create their own App Store. Google will either cede their position or we’ll have a viable, growing third ecosystem.

          • mhermher 14 days ago

            This is what the entire ruling is about. They are not free to do so if they also sell with Google Play Services. It's the root of the entire issue is that the above requirement is in the agreements that Google has with manufacturers. The EU is striking down this type of agreement such that manufacturers will actually have that freedom.

          • the_duke 14 days ago

            The Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act will change a lot of things for both Apple and Google.

      • mqus 14 days ago

        I would think the same and can only assume that apple is not as much of a monopoly as google/android in the EU. I think Vestager &co also wanted to have a solid case (as evidenced in the appeal losses right now) and the apple one was more difficult to establish? I don't know.

      • mhermher 14 days ago

        This news is about Android.

    • izacus 14 days ago

      That's absolutely not what the ruling wants.

    • endisneigh 14 days ago

      Is this not already possible with things like LineageOS?

      • dahfizz 14 days ago

        Its an issue with bundling. If a phone manufacturer wants to ship an Android phone with Google Play Store (and they all do), then they must also include a bunch of other Google stuff. The EU wants Google to license the Play Store but not force the inclusion of all their other apps.

        So yes, a manufacturer could ship a phone with a de-Googled LineageOS. But they cannot today ship a phone with Play Store, but without Chrome, etc.

        • endisneigh 14 days ago

          Interesting - thanks for the info.

      • makeitdouble 14 days ago

        It's about the contractual obligations Google forced on makers. What the user does with the device after purchase is out of the scope of this ruling.

        • endisneigh 14 days ago

          No, what I mean is that manufacturers don’t have to include the play store if they don’t like Google’s requirements around using it?

          • makeitdouble 14 days ago

            Google forced them to take the Play Store and search widget (including default search engine) as a condition to get Play Services.

            Play Services is required by a majority of android apps and developping and maintening a compatible system layer is just out of reach of most(all?) device makers.

            • endisneigh 14 days ago

              Yes, but my point is - can’t they they just not use the play store at all like lineageos?

              Ultimately Google will always have control over android if what you’re saying is true unless an alternative ecosystem is created

              • stale2002 14 days ago

                > can’t they they just not use the play store at all like lineageos?

                This changes nothing about if google's behavior was illegally tying two products together.

                You are bringing up a non-sequitor that does not change the law.

              • makeitdouble 14 days ago

                You’re asking if Motorola can’t just sell a phone that cannot run most of published android apps out of the box.

                > unless an alternative ecosystem is created

                That can’t happen while Google is free to do anything to crush potential competitors (they’re also found bullying makers out of bundling stuff like third party stores on their phones, and the chinese makers seem to be the only ones getting away with it), so the only way out is basically to lawsuit the hell out of the situation.

      • layer8 14 days ago

        It’s for example not possible for Android device manufacturers to ship a phone with Google PlayStore installed but not also have Chrome be preinstalled as the default browser.

  • SiempreViernes 14 days ago

    It looks like it's about forcing manufacturers to ship with chrome and the google search widget, so like the old Microsoft forcing IE upon everyone case.

drexlspivey 14 days ago

That’s 1.45% of their annual revenue or 5.2% of their annual net profit.

  • p-e-w 14 days ago

    Which is essentially nothing. Imagine an individual, caught committing an illegal act of this magnitude for the third time, being fined 1.45% of their annual pre-tax salary, with no other consequences.

    Speeding tickets are costlier than this in many jurisdictions.

    • tester756 14 days ago

      >Which is essentially nothing.

      Holy shit.

      Is it some sign of being on HN too much?

      Sure, 1.45% is small, because % is shitty at representing the real value at this point

      at the end of the day it's fucking $4 000 000 000

      It's year salary of 2200 well paid engineers

      That's industry-changing level of possibilities

      • Fiahil 14 days ago

        closer to 8000 engineers, if you want to spend 500k/eng in salary alone (pre tax)

      • bush-bby 14 days ago

        1.8 mil is “well-payed”…?

        • tester756 14 days ago

          ops, I've taken annual salary as monthly :D

          I wanted to have 150k per person, thus "well-paid".

          This way it is even more ridiculous since

          4 000 000 000 / 150 000 = 26 666 engineers!

          but, 1.8 mil is definitely well paid!

      • rvz 14 days ago

        Google makes twice more than Facebook in their annual profits and still Facebook can afford to pay the FTC's record fine and still continues with collecting more PII and violating the privacy of their users. $4B is essentially nothing and instead it should be the minimum fine for these companies.

        Repeated violations from them should be in the significant multi-billions, much higher than this generous discount of a fine that the EU is asking for. This proves that they will do it again and won't change until the fines get higher than $10B.

    • BiteCode_dev 14 days ago

      If you were earning minimal wage in France, that would be about $1500 of fine for the equivalent of being caught commiting burglary for the 3rd time.

      Quite lucrative.

      • yamtaddle 14 days ago

        Factor in marginal utility of income, and it's even more lame. $1,500 means a lot more to someone making minimum wage than $4,000,000,000 does to Google.

    • colinmhayes 14 days ago

      I don't care how much money you have or make. $4 billion can buy an enormous amount of stuff, it is in no way essentially nothing.

  • 988747 14 days ago

    Yes, but it's also a threat of further fines in future if they don't stop their shenanigans.

asadlionpk 14 days ago

EU has decided to make a living out of fining the tech companies regularly.

  • nebalee 14 days ago

    And Google has decided to make a living out of breaking the law regularly.

  • lizardactivist 14 days ago

    No, they're not fined regularly, only when they knowingly violate the law.

    And it's $4B after 4 years since the beginning of the investigation, a tiny increase to an already massive EU budget.

  • rr888 14 days ago

    They continuously fined the banks until they're all nearly bankrupt. I guess tech is next now.

    • chmod775 14 days ago

      I'm pretty sure bailouts/other support the banking sector received dwarf any fines they got for breaking the law.

      Banks going bankrupt is their own fault entirely. It's a "you had one job" kind of thing.

      If you want to find someone who is bad at managing your money and somehow breaks the law at the same time, a bank is apparently your best bet.

  • fabatka 14 days ago

    Seems like it's still worth it for the tech companies, so I'd say it's a smart move.

legitster 14 days ago

So... What's the end result? Google has to charge for Android? Ask users their search preference?

  • wongarsu 14 days ago

    I think this is about Google's Android certification, that allows manufacturers to ship Android with any google app. Some like the Play Store are basically required by users, but Google makes it a "get all or none" deal with a lot of other demands, which includes a google search widget.

    • josefx 14 days ago

      The deal isn't just "all or none" on a single phone, it is all or none over the entire inventory. If you sell an android phone with the play store you are no longer allowed to sell any android devices without it.

    • encryptluks2 14 days ago

      And Apple makes it so you can't even install apps outside their app store.

  • moffkalast 14 days ago

    Android should damn well ship with multiple app stores and multiple browsers, not just the GoogleApprovedTM app store where they ban anyone that looks at them wrong or thinks about blocking ads for more than 2 miliseconds.

    The exclusive app stores are both iOS and Android's greatest strengths and failings at the same time. Apple is arguably the far worse offender there too. If there was an alternative app store on iOS everyone would jump ship immediately.

    Imagine having crossplatform Steam/GoG Mobile stores for mobile games, etc.

    • izacus 14 days ago

      The way this EU ruling is setup, they want your Android not only ship with other stores, but allow sales with exclusively those stores as well.

      Just like the case with Chinese phones now - I have bunch of people in my family angry because they bought Huawei and they now can't use their banking apps because it's an incompatible build of Android that requires publishing in a Huawei AppStore to work.

      That's worse. That's strictly worse for everyone, even the OEMs will lose their market to Apple by driving their ecosystem into the ground... again. Samsungs, Nokias, ASUS, etc. did this tragedy of the commons failure repeatedly and reliably.

      • twobitshifter 14 days ago

        Incompatible isn’t the right word for it. The banking app could run on the Huawei phone, but they’re relying on google to certify the device through the play store.

      • moffkalast 14 days ago

        > because it's an incompatible build of Android

        sigh

        I guess it's impossible to go 5 min without somebody wrecking the ecosystem. I don't understand how they can even manage to be incompatible, it's fucking Java, or more commonly these days just a wrapped PWA.

        • izacus 14 days ago

          I mean, in days of Android 4.x, Samsung wasn't able to not mess with core Android APIs for any release (and the bugs weren't even same across different models of the same darn phone).

          My favorite bug in career is when we found out that OneUI (2? Don't remember the version exactly.) redefined @android:color/white resource. It was blue.

          So anything that was set to white in your app was blue on that one model. That's the quality you can expect from the companies EU is trying to protect here. -_-

        • warkdarrior 14 days ago

          Requiring OEMs to be compatible with some Google-given (God-given?) Android version is a constraint on their business and their users. The point of EU's ruling is to allow incompatibilities to flourish. Let each user pick the best Android flavor they want.

    • rsanheim 14 days ago

      > If there was an alternative app store on iOS everyone would jump ship immediately

      citation needed.

      if there was an alternative app store, 90% of apple users wouldn't even be aware of it, the other 8% would hear about it and never use it, and maybe, _maybe_ 2% would install it.

      • moffkalast 14 days ago

        I mean if there was another competitor store installed by default (as mandated by law, like browser choice was at one point) that wouldn't charge devs $100/year to upload anything and take 30% of all income you'd quickly see the App store deserted.

        Then Apple would have to set their pricings competitively, instead of monopolistically.

      • genewitch 14 days ago

        there... are, though, for example, cydia.

        I've never installed the AOSP or the oneplus specific "android" versions so i have no frame of reference, but it takes about 25 seconds to get cydia to come up on the ipad i use it on, with no other weirdness needed on the ipad itself.

  • izacus 14 days ago

    Think of the situation with Chinese non-Google phones. You install your favorite app and it crashes on launch because the manufacturer messed with the system APIs.

    You run another app and it gets killed in the background, not receiving messages, because it's not on the list of your phone manufacturer partners.

    This is the situation with degoogled Android today - a huge compatibility mess.

  • jillesvangurp 14 days ago

    The end result is that Google either explains to their shareholders where their dividend is going every quarter or they adjust to what amounts to a fairly consistent signal out of the EU that people there are running out of patience with Google not complying with the rules there and that that has financial consequences.

    So, it's a game of ever escalating fines. At some point, they'll hit diesel gate levels, which caused a bit of an existential crisis for VW a few years ago. That signal actually mostly came from the US BTW. The EU is demonstrating that that kind of thin can work both ways and that they might go there squeeze some US companies when they misbehave.

    As for Google and Apple, Amazon, MS, Facebook, etc., they've been going through rounds of increasingly larger fines from different countries in the EU and them doing the absolute minimum to maybe toe the line but never entirely. It's not enough; they need to get more pro-active on this or they'll have to deal with bigger fines and lawyer fees. Very simple. Testing what is good enough in a court room like they have been doing is a costly strategy. Judges not amused/impressed so-far apparently.

  • MikusR 14 days ago

    They already do both of those things.

BenjiWiebe 14 days ago

Apparently the court system still uses 32 bits.

(~4B is the 32bit integer limit...)

robomartin 14 days ago

Does the money in these cases go to government? Not sure how it is in the EU.

This is one of the aspects of government-based fines I dislike. The money should go to the people, the victims, not government. They go after a company that may have damaged consumers and then proceed to grab the fine instead of giving it to the people who were the actual victims of the transgression.

  • wickedsickeune 14 days ago

    The money of this fine is not to repair damages to individuals, it's to disincentivize behaviour. Plus if it's used for expenses of the EU, it indirectly goes to the people, as they will have to contribute less taxes.

  • perlgeek 14 days ago

    It's simply not practical to determine with certainty who owned an Android phone during the time that Google violated the antitrust laws, and divide the payout among them.

    • genewitch 14 days ago

      I get class action checks from a single online grocery order i made in 2010. I'm getting a class action check for a used vehicle i bought in my state where my state isn't involved in the class, but the vehicle was originally sold in a class state.

      i'm pretty sure the panopticon that is google can determine who had an android phone, ever.

  • layer8 14 days ago

    The money will go into the EU budget, which for the most part benefits EU citizens. And everyone will benefit from Google having to change (or already having changed) their agreements with device manufacturers.

    It’s like when you pay a parking fine, the money doesn’t go to the specific people inconvenienced or endangered by your wrong parking, it goes into the municipal budget.

AtNightWeCode 14 days ago

Android/GP is the most corrupted market in the history of mankind. Just baffling how EU aim for non-important things.

Fiahil 14 days ago

Maybe a boring question, but where do the money goes ?

Can they use that to finance grants or RFPs for other projects ?

dalbasal 14 days ago

I'm kind of bummed that FOSS licencing isn't one of the teeth here. The anticompetitive aspects here are based in overly restrictive distributor contracts. The fact that android and chrome are so full of FOSS, yet Google does what it does...

dvfjsdhgfv 14 days ago

If the page fails to scroll on your screen, just disable JS (one click in uBlock Origin).

Raziarazzi 14 days ago

This is a big win for Google, who has been fighting an EU ruling that said it used its Android mobile operating system to stymie rivals. The ruling was upheld by the European Court of Justice on Thursday.

sizzle 14 days ago

I really respect the EU for having the guts to hold corporations accountable.

ShredKazoo 14 days ago

Who gets the $4B? How will it be determined where it's spent?

typon 14 days ago

What amount would these EU fines have to be to make companies like Google and Facebook decide to exit the EU?

  • bzxcvbn 14 days ago

    This is never going to happen. It's just too big of a market.

    • origin_path 14 days ago

      Never is a big word. Every time the EU levies fines like this it's effectively the market getting smaller.

      Also, there's degrees of exit. Google can exit the market and have zero presence in the EU whilst still sub-licensing tech to affiliates who pay for the privilege and resell their stuff, whilst dealing with all the local regulatory overheads. Plenty of firms use that sort of model.

    • woevdbz 14 days ago

      It's also really not the outcome wanted by regulators. Everyone losing access to their email and information, YouTube, etc would create absolute chaos. Antitrust's job is to rein in profit, not destroy markets.

  • speedgoose 14 days ago

    That would be such a dream!

  • soheil 14 days ago

    I just want to point out in Russia those companies have little to no presence specially after the war. It's telling that we always hear it's a sign of oppression and authoritarianism if governments kicked out those services out of their country, but here we are people advocating for it in the EU.

  • yieldcrv 14 days ago

    probably 15-20% of annual revenue

    its psychology, the board or ceo would react preemptively based on the idea that shareholders would react on their behalf

    shareholders (if they have voting power at all) would react for the same result at higher fine amounts than that

    • viraptor 14 days ago

      Speculation - google would want to operate in the EU even at a loss:

      1. Other search engines regularly appearing in news / on screens would remind the non-EU users about alternatives.

      2. Lost traffic is lost information. Google still relies on knowing your behaviour to improve targeting.

      3. Giving a whole region to other search engines would build up their financial standing and they could threaten Google in other regions in the future.

      • origin_path 14 days ago

        Very unlikely - the EU has proven it cannot build a Google competitor worth a damn. Instead what would happen is that Google would have no corporate presence here but the website would still be accessible, and people would just continue using it as normal but with fewer local customizations and the only ads they'd see would be from American firms, or from European firms that buy ads via American subsidiaries / brokers.

      • Nasrudith 14 days ago

        I personally doubt it, mostly because Baidu is a similiar boat and hasn't been a spreading competitor of note in that space. Not apples to apples obviously due to several reasons admittedly, but that is most country to country comparisons.

    • saiya-jin 14 days ago

      Not annual, but projected maybe over decade... once you lose the market you lost it also next years. Lets not forget its 500 million of above-average rich folks that use google services extensively.

      The fine would have to be in range of 100 billion for them to exit

      • antonymy 14 days ago

        Their annual revenue from the EU is only 17 billion dollars, as of 2021. The current fine is about a quarter of that. This is revenue, not profit. So this fine very likely impacted the bottom line for what Google is pulling out of the EU. And it was not even as big as they could've made it. It's very likely the EU refrained from the maximum fine amount because it would've pushed Google's EU operations firmly into the red.

        And this is setting aside the costs of compliance to avoid more fines. Even if the costs are less than another fine, they're not nothing. You're looking at an entire year's profits from the EU essentially being wiped out by this fine, plus reduced profits going forward due to increased compliance costs and probably losing sales. And this is your best case scenario.

        It would not take a 100 billion dollar fine to make Google leave the EU, it would only take another fine like this one.

        • jsnell 14 days ago

          That's the quarterly revenue, not the annual.

  • bee_rider 14 days ago

    Only one way to find out!

ncmncm 14 days ago

Yet, still pocket change.

It is commendable that EU does not allow miscreants to tie up fines in an endless legal maze.

  • dahfizz 14 days ago

    What % of global revenue or profit do you think an appropriate fine is?

    • ncmncm 14 days ago

      That is for courts, but it should be enough to produce correct behavior by eliminating incentive to violate. If the fine is too small, it becomes operating expense, as is usual in the US.

      Probably any fine should accompany (but not depend on results from) criminal charges for a company officer.

      • dahfizz 14 days ago

        So you believe Google made more than $4B with their Android licensing practices in the EU?

        I think that is unlikely, and I think it is likely we will see Google change the illegal licensing.

        I am more than happy to see a Google exec get charged for a crime if you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they committed that crime.

        • ncmncm 14 days ago

          If it takes a $4B fine to get Google to behave, then a $4B fine is the right amount, regardless of revenue. Revenue hints at the fine that would get their attention.

          We charge people with a crime to see if their part in it can be proved. Second-guessing the court produces often bad results.

        • mqus 14 days ago

          > I think that is unlikely, and I think it is likely we will see Google change the illegal licensing.

          According to another comment, they even already changed their practices in response, a few years ago

frozencell 14 days ago

How much is Google Revenue?

caldarons 14 days ago

While I am in favour of efforts like the GDPR to protect users data, I wonder if all this anti-bigtech sentiment is actually justified and where it will eventually lead to

  • metadat 14 days ago

    Hopefully it can actually entice Google into changing it's behavior. The US fines are so small they are a joke, a light tax on doing business.

  • athenot 14 days ago

    With a small fine, it's just an annoying cost of doing business. With this ruling, there's a possibility it may actually change the risk/benefit assessment for companies that insist on doing whatever they want with user data.

    Maybe the lines of business which require promiscuous data sharing in order to be profitable will stop operating in the EU, and give rise to other business models. Whether these newer ones will be better or worse is not yet known, though the gamble in the EU is that it won't be worse.

    • saalweachter 14 days ago

      ... wasn't the case about Android app bundling, not user data?

  • xani_ 14 days ago

    Breaking the law that applies to is not a sentiment. The same law punished small companies too

  • Someone 14 days ago

    If you’re in favor of efforts like the GDPR, why do you call this anti-bigtech sentiment? It’s pro-privacy sentiment.

    The GDPR applies to smalltech, too, and smalltech gets fined. For example, an individual got fined €600 about two months ago for pointing a video camera at a shared access road (https://www.enforcementtracker.com/ETid-1397)

    You can find many more examples of small fines at https://www.enforcementtracker.com/.

  • jlokier 14 days ago

    The EU appeal the article is about has nothing at all to do with GDPR, user data, or privacy.

    It's about anticompetitive behaviour, i.e. antitrust. Antitrust is not particularly about tech companies, and it has been around a long time, since before modern computers.

    It's about misusing a position of market dominance to prevent a healthy competitive market from operating. Very large companies which are market-dominant face this problem, but they also have the resources to understand and handle the responsibility. They can either do so, or face fines and injunctions to make them do so. In severe cases they can be forced to break up dominant business units, such as happened with the breakup of AT&T in the USA some years ago.

    This is the same sort of thing as might have blocked nVidia from buying ARM, for example (until nVidia pulled out voluntarily). You can see how that has nothing to do with GDPR; it wasn't even in the EU.

  • seydor 14 days ago

    GDPR has been pro-big tech according to all the studies i have seen

  • zmgsabst 14 days ago

    I expect some kind of:

    - common carrier status for “platforms”

    - PII laws, broadly

    • WastingMyTime89 14 days ago

      For your first point, that’s more or less what the Digital Market Act is and it was adopted in July. They call “platforms” “gatekeepers” but you got the idea of it. It should become enforceable by Q3 2023.

  • rvz 14 days ago

    It is a long time coming and still a long way to go and the surveillance big tech giants should pay a high price for abusing and violating the privacy of hundreds of millions of users.

    It's a shame that this fine is too generous to Google and it won't scare them. It should be much larger than that and should be in the multi-billions of dollars.

    • metadat 14 days ago
      • rvz 14 days ago

        > What? Did GPT3 write the parent comment?

        No. Why do you think that is?

        > This is a multi-billion dollar fine, a $4.1B fine.

        As it should be the standard and nothing less than that. Even so, this one is a 'generous' multi-billion dollar fine that won't scare them.

        I am saying it needs to be much higher than that. GPT-3 cannot explain itself or its own comments, can it?

        • metadat 14 days ago

          Losing 5% of Google's annual profits will absolutely scare the shit out of them.

          Consider how much this harms their ability to keep reinvesting the profits into growing the business. A 5% loss is likely sufficient to get them to stop for a moment and rethink their strategy so the punishment won't recur.

          > No. Why do you think that is?

          Because you lament the lack of a multi-billion dollar fine when the title states that it's a $4B fine. This comes off as nonsensical and disconnected from reality, in a way that triggered "¯\_(ツ)_/¯, maybe it's GPT3".

          With that said, I meant it as a joke, not a serious accusation. The likely explanation here is this comes down to the common case of human confusion.

          As a tangential aside:

          I can only conclude that due to the curse of knowledge, we collectively are overly paranoid about bot commenters on HN. I was just accused of being a bot just two or three days ago.

          Cheers and take care.

          • rvz 14 days ago

            > Losing 5% of Google's annual profits will absolutely scare the shit out of them.

            No it won't. We all know that this won't be the last of such violations from these big tech companies like Google which the EU is disputing and especially when Facebook paid a similar fine to the FTC years ago and is once again still violating the privacy of its users. So it is clear that they still wouldn't change even if the fine is as high as that.

            The fact is, they are not scared of these fines. Setting them in the multi-billion dollars should be the standard and the minimum and continuous violations warrant a much higher significant fine than this generous discounted fine which Google knows it can easily afford to do it again.

            For them, the violations is worth it and pays more than these so-called generous 'fines'.

            > Because you lament the lack of a multi-billion dollar fine when the title states that it's a $4B fine. This comes off as nonsensical and disconnected from reality, in a way that triggered "¯\_(ツ)_/¯, maybe it's GPT3".

            Except I already said that 'this' fine "needs to be much larger" and disagreed with the EU's 'generous' fine. I'm talking fines of over $10B dollars, which that still qualifies as 'multi-billions of dollars' and 'much larger' than the EU's small fine. I made myself perfectly clear on my whole point.

            So my comment is hardly 'GPT-3 bot' generated.

            • metadat 14 days ago

              Sigh, it's never enough for some people.

              If the amount of the fine would deal a fatal or nearly fatal blow to the company, they'll simply exit the market and not pay. It's a balancing act.

              I'm grateful for the EU setting a good example in this case: a fine which the perp feels is painful, without killing them. This is one proven path to rehabilitation.

throwaway4837 14 days ago
  • t_mann 14 days ago

    Are you claiming that EU officials are illegally pocketing the collected fines for themselves, or do you just not know how government budgets work?

  • gnulinux 14 days ago

    By this criticism, are we to understand that you're against all fines collected by the government? Everything from parking tickets to penalties paid for crimes, misdemeanors, felonies by citizens etc? If that's the case, that seems like a very fringe perspective, consistent only with "all taxation is theft" flavored libertarianism.

    EU is a democratically accountable institution, in theory (and also in practice) voters are able to affect the way these fines are used, and how they're collected. Yes, these fines are not going to be redistributed into EU citizens' pockets, but they will be used in ways that will benefit EU citizens one way or another.