The technology company Google has been fined 100 million euros (about $102.8 million) for a dominant position that allows it to control app developers’ access to end users, Italy’s Competition and Market Guarantor Authority reported today.
According to the Antitrust Authority, “through the Android operating system and the Google Play app store, Google has a dominant position that allows it to control the access of app developers to end users” and has “forced it to make available on Android Auto the Enel X app that allows to make use of services related to electric vehicle charging.”
“It should be remembered that in Italy about three quarters of smartphones use Android. Moreover, Google is a very important operator worldwide in the context of the so-called digital economy and has a great financial capacity,” explains the Italian Antitrust Authority in a statement released on its website.
In concrete, the sanction has fallen on the companies of the Alphabet Inc. group, Google LLC and Google Italy S. r. l. for infringing Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
The authority explains that “Google has not allowed the interoperability of the JuicePass app with Android Auto, an Android-specific feature that allows apps to be used when the user is driving in accordance with safety and distraction reduction requirements.”
JuicePass enables a wide range of functional services for electric vehicle charging, ranging from finding a charging column to managing the charging session and booking a charging column, a feature that “ensures the effective availability of the infrastructure once the user has reached it.”
By denying EnelX Italia the possibility of having JuicePass on Android Auto, Google “has unfairly limited the possibilities for users to use the Enel X Italia app when they are driving an electric vehicle and need to charge.”
“In this way, Google has favored its own Google Maps app, which can be used on Android Auto and and enables functional electric vehicle charging services, currently limited to the search for charging columns and navigation, but which in the future could include other functions, such as booking and payment,” the note added.
“The exclusion of the Enel X Italia app from Android Auto has been going on for more than two years. The continuation of this conduct could definitely compromise Enel X Italia’s ability to build a strong user base, at a time of significant growth in electric vehicle sales,” explains the authority.
It stresses that “the JuicePass app could disappear from the list of apps used by users, which would significantly reduce consumer choice and hinder technological progress.”
The authority further notes that “the contested conduct may influence the development of electric mobility at a crucial stage of its roll-out, in particular as regards the improvement of an infrastructure network for electric vehicle charging at a crucial stage of its roll-out”.