Google, Inc. has been the subject of a recent antitrust probe by the European Union (EU). The EU is notorious for its rigorous enforcement of antitrust laws, and experts believe that if Google is able to reach a settlement with the EU, the agreement will be a blue print for other countries currently investigating Google for anticompetitive conduct.
The probe began in 2010, when regulators made inquiries into how Google’s search results were rated and how relevant advertisements were placed. The concern was that Google was using its outsized market share and technical competencies to reduce or eliminate competition from the search engine market. However, as the investigation went on, regulators started to find more questionable business practices, many relating to mobile services.
In June of this year, toward the end of the investigation, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia gave Google an ultimatum: Show concrete signs of improvement or face a formal complaint. Google has thus far complied, and has offered a settlement proposal which is currently being negotiated. It is said that much of the negotiations will turn on the changes Google is willing to make to its mobile services. If the settlement negotiations fall through, Google could face maximum fines of 10% of its global revenue. Google’s global revenue last year was about $38 billion.