Google hit with $123M antitrust fine in Italy over Android Auto – TechSwitch

    Google has been fined simply over €100 million (~$123M) by Italy’s antitrust watchdog for abuse of a dominant market place.
    The case pertains to Android Auto, a modified model of Google’s cell OS supposed for in-car use, and particularly to how Google restricted entry to the platform to an electrical automotive charging app, referred to as JuicePass, made by vitality firm Enel X Italia.
    Android Auto lets motorists straight entry a collection of related apps (like maps and music streaming companies) by way of a dash-mounted display. But Enel X Italia’s JuicePass app was not one of many third social gathering apps Google granted entry to.
    The app is accessible by way of the smartphone model of the Android platform — however in fact a driver shouldn’t be reaching for his or her telephone when on the wheel. So barring entry by way of Android Auto places a big blocker on related utilization.
    Google’s market restriction of JuicePass has drawn the eye — and now the ire — of Italy’s competitors watchdog.
    The AGCM mentioned right this moment that Google has violated Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — and has ordered it to make the JuicePass obtainable by way of the platform.
    It additionally says Google should to supply the identical interoperability with Android Auto to different third social gathering app builders.
    The authority factors out that the Google Maps app, which presents some fundamental companies for electrical automobile charging (resembling discovering and getting instructions to charging factors), is accessible by way of Android Auto — and will, in future, incorporate straight aggressive options like funds.
    “According to the Authority’s findings, Google did not allow Enel X Italia to develop a version of its JuicePass app compatible with Android Auto, a specific Android feature that allows apps to be used while the user is driving in compliance with safety, as well as distraction reduction, requirements,” the AGCM writes in a press launch saying the sanction [translated to English using Google Translate]. “JuicePass allows a variety of companies for recharging electrical autos, starting from discovering a charging station to managing the charging session and reserving a spot on the station; this latter perform ensures the precise availability of the infrastructure as soon as the person reaches it.
    “By refusing Enel X Italia interoperability with Android Auto, Google has unfairly limited the possibilities for end users to avail themselves of the Enel X Italia app when driving and recharging an electric vehicle. Google has consequently favored its own Google Maps app, which runs on Android Auto and enables functional services for electric vehicle charging, currently limited to finding and getting directions to reach charging points, but which in the future could include other functionalities such as reservation and payment.”
    Google denies any wrongdoing and says it disagrees with the order. But it didn’t affirm whether or not or not it intends to enchantment.
    The tech large claims the restrictions it locations on apps’ entry to Android Auto are vital to make sure drivers aren’t distracted. It additionally informed us that it has been opening up the platform to extra apps over time — with “thousands” now suitable.
    It added that its intention is to maintain increasing availability.
    Google didn’t touch upon why Enel X Italia’s app for recharging electrical autos was not among the many “thousands” it has already granted entry to, nevertheless.
    Per the AGCM, Enel X Italia’s app has been excluded from Android Auto for greater than two years.
    Here’s Google’s assertion:
    “The number one priority for Android Auto is to ensure apps can be used safely while driving. That’s why we have strict guidelines on the types of apps which are currently supported and these are based on driver-distraction tests and regulatory and industry standards. Thousands of applications are already compatible with Android Auto, and our goal is to allow even more developers to make their apps available over time. For example, we have introduced templates for navigation, charging, and parking apps, open for any developer to use. We disagree with the Authority’s decision and we will review our options.”
    Google has a dominant place out there by way of the Android smartphone platform, with a marketshare in Italy of round three-quarters in line with the competitors watchdog.
    Under European Union regulation, a discovering of market dominance in a single market places a duty on an organization to not limit competitors in some other markets the place it operates — and the EU already discovered Google to be a dominant firm typically Internet search in each market within the European Economic Area again in 2017.
    The AGCM mentioned it’s involved concerning the impression of Google’s restrictions on app entry to Android Auto on the expansion of the electrical mobility market.
    “If it were to continue, [it] could permanently jeopardise Enel X Italia’s chances of building a solid user base at a time of significant growth in sales of electric vehicles,” it wrote, including that Google’s motion in excluding the JuicePass app meant it didn’t seem within the record of purposes utilized by customers — thereby lowering client alternative and making a barrier to innovation.
    The authority suggests Google’s conduct may affect the event of electrical mobility throughout a vital section — as recharging infrastructures for electrical vehicles are being constructed out and will help gas progress and demand for recharging companies.
    “Consequently, possible negative effects could occur to the diffusion of electric vehicles, to the use of ‘clean’ energy and to the transition towards a more environmentally sustainable mobility,” it warned, linking anti-competitive habits to detrimental penalties for the surroundings.
    The AGCM added that it’ll monitor Google’s compliance with its order to make sure it successfully and appropriately implements the obligations to supply third social gathering app builders with entry to Android Auto.
    The authority’s motion might be a taster of what’s coming down the pipe for gatekeeper gamers like Google in Europe underneath the incoming Digital Markets Act (DMA).
    The flagship legislative proposal is meant to complement ex submit competitors regulation enforcement with ex ante guidelines on how dominant platforms which intermediate others’ market entry can behave — together with by imposing up entrance necessities that they assist interoperability.
    The concept with the DMA is to complement the sluggish and painstaking work wanted to carry competitors investigations to fruition with proactive measures slapped on tech giants to forestall sure varieties of identified market abuse within the first place.
    In the in the meantime competitors probes of huge tech proceed.
    Italy’s AGCM opened one into Google’s advert show enterprise final October, for instance.
    Google has already confronted numerous EU antitrust resolution lately — together with a $5BN penalty over the way it operates Android. Although search rivals proceed to complain that the treatment Google devised for that 2018 resolution nonetheless doesn’t sum to truthful competitors.

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