Saturday, 21 July 2018

EC v Google re Android of Jul2018

With as much surprise as bad weather on a British summer bank holiday, the European Commission fined Google €4.34 billion for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices to strengthen dominance of Google's search engine on 18Jul2018.

Whoopee-do.  Sure, Google has made one major mistake: the demand of its hardware suppliers to sell exclusively Android hardware favourable to Google.  That behaviour is effectively an arrangement of a cartel.  This is the sort of thing that we do indeed pay competition regulators to investigate.

But the rest of the EC's case is nonsense.

At best, this action from the European Commission is arguably a decade late.  As such, this provides yet more evidence to support that the EC's default position of propping up European oligarchs.

As typical, this action from the European Commission yet again obsesses with this idiotic stupidity about choices of internet browsers.  As such, this provides yet more evidence to support that the EC's approaches to law enforcement are highly politicised and largely irrelevant to the interests of the general consumer or general taxpayer.  It adds onto the existing pile of European stupidity about "cookie consent" and, more recently, the General Data Protection Regulation.  It's impossible to access any website without needing to click billions of mouse buttons to get to the content you want.  (and yes, it must be mouse buttons apparently, because the fools in the IT sector think that keyboard accessibility discriminates against the disabled, see this eloquent case against access keys).

At worse, this action from the European Commission yet again underlines the continuous mission of the EU's institutions to hold Europe back, to create diversions from evolving into tomorrow's world, to uphold (or to create) unnecessary obstructions, to protect incumbents by erecting overhead-based barriers to entry into contested sectors.  This ruling is portrayed as a "win" against Google, but in fact it's a "win" against all potential entrants into the areas that the EC think Google has gamed in its favour.

As a consequence of the EC's idiotic, politicised, childish "logic", it is no longer worth the risk entering the smartphone market, because any collaboration that you - as a software promoter - need from a hardware supplier with sufficient critical mass to penetrate the market for consumer devices is apparently de facto illegal.

Perhaps that is sheer stupidity by the EC that we've observed before, and should expect in the future  Or perhaps it's the required outcome, to protect the incumbent oligarchs from "disruptive" technological advances.

Or perhaps it's an expedient way to create a money making machine.  Fine Google for breaching the law, but note that there is no way of magicking away the situation in which Google has allegedly stitched up the market.  So that'll be another fine for another day, then.  And lo, the EC has found a money tree that replaces the original function of UK's membership of the EU.

As if Google needs to care!  To Google, this is probably just a cost of doing business in Europe, and a surprisingly late cost as well.

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