European antitrust regulators slapped Google with a record €2.4 billion ($2.7 billion) fine on Tuesday for systematically favoring its own search results above those of its competitors.
The $2.7 billion fine represents just over 2.5% of Google's revenue past year and Alphabet, Google's owner, had $92.4 billion in cash as of end of March.
Initially, Google and the European Union attempted to settle the antitrust case without lengthy litigation of formal charges. Investigators found that on average even Google Shopping's most highly-ranked rivals only appeared on page 4 of Google search results.
Which means, for its rivals, Google included a number of criteria in these algorithms, as a result of which rival comparison shopping services were automatically demoted. It has been giving it prominent placement when people search for any team. Meanwhile, Google has pushed back in a statement, insisting that the company is simply providing the best service possible to its search engine customers.
"Google has become a short cut to buying, not a short cut to saving money", said Benjamin Glaser, features editor of DealNews, a comparison shopping site.
By doing so, Google massively increased traffic to its comparison shopping service. Furthermore, Google must tell the European Union officials of what it's planning to do within 60 days. Right. Google's two most-dominant products. "That's a good thing", Margrethe Vestager, the EC commissioner in charge of competition policy, said in a statement. "Thousands of European merchants use these ads to compete with larger companies like Amazon and eBay".
The commission investigated for seven years after complaints from rivals such as US consumer review website Yelp, TripAdvisor, NewsCorp., and lobbying group FairSearch. "We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today", it continued.
"The European Commission pursues U.S. tech companies because they are the ones who dominate their industry".
The ruling also orders Google to end its anti-competitive practices within 90 days or face a further penalty.
This isn't the only major battle Google is fighting.
This decision has been years in the making, with the European Commission first sending a letter to Google about the matter in 2015.
At the core of the issue was Google's complete dominance of the European smartphone market, and how it was exploiting it to promote its own services and apps.
The EU's powerful anti-trust regulator is set to slap Google with a recordfine on Tuesday in yet another salvo against a United States tech giant, sources said. According to Google, users prefer links that take them directly to the products they want and not to websites where they have to repeat their searches.
Google says it is considering an appeal.
FairSearch.org is a lobby group of businesses and organizations that seeks to ensure choice across the internet ecosystem by defending competition in online and mobile search.
There are now two separate investigations pending into Google, one regarding its use of the Android operating system and another into its AdSense service. They also maintained restrictions on how their competitors' ads were displayed after it altered contracts in 2009.