They’ll certainly appeal, but it sure looks like a European Union decision will cost Google a hefty chunk of change. In the culmination of a seven-year investigation, the EU has ruled that Google unfairly promoted its own shopping comparison service on its search engine, resulting in the handing down of a €2.4 billion (about $2.7 million) fine. It’s an eye-watering amount, and while it’s still chump change considering Google’s mountain of cash, the possibility of daily fines should Google not make changes looms larger.
How does a company make a $2.7 billion mistake? The story starts back in 2004 with Froogle — a name you haven’t heard in a long time. It was Google’s earliest attempt at helping shoppers compare prices, and, well, there’s a reason you haven’t heard that name in a while. It flopped, but it was eventually replaced by the service we see today when we hit that shopping tab in Google — or in the search results when the keyword is a product name.
That just so happens to be the $2.7 billion mistake. The EU court has decided that Google unfairly used its search engine dominance in EU countries to promote its own shopping comparison service over everyone else’s, regardless of whether or not it was a better service. That’s an EU antitrust no-no, and it was a massive one — considering how long Google’s been doing it and how significantly competitors have been hurt, the court found the $2.7 billion punishment fitting.
The court is now giving Google 90 days to stop giving its comparison shopping service featured status, and they’re giving the company a big or else. If they don’t shape up, the EU will levy daily fines of €10.6 million, which could add up very fast.
Google intends to appeal, but they might not get far — the EU has never been shy about harsh rulings on tech giants, especially where antitrust or privacy issues come into play.