Technology has been strongly driven by the competitive power of companies, allowing names like Apple, Facebook and Qualcomm to stand out and constantly be criticized and addressed in court for alleged abuses of power in the market.
Google is in the same vain. On Thursday (13), the Competition Authority of Italy (AGCM) fined the American company more than US$ 123 million for abuse of its dominant position in the technological market under violation of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
According to the regulator, Google has not allowed Electric Power Solutions Company Enel X (A member of the Enel Group created by the Italian government in 1962, and privatized in 1999, though its biggest shareholder is currently Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance.) to develop an Android Auto version of its JuicePass app, a service that helps users find gas stations for their electric cars.
According to AGCM, the Authority’s found that Google did not allow Enel X Italia to develop a version of its JuicePass app compatible with Android Auto, a specific Android feature that allows apps to be used while the user is driving in compliance with safety, as well as distraction reduction, requirements. JuicePass enables a wide range of services for recharging electric vehicles, ranging from finding a charging station to managing the charging session and reserving a place at the station; this latter function guarantees the actual availability of the infrastructure once the user reaches it.
AGCM adds that Google’s intentions with its restrictive decision are given in a way that favors the use of Google Maps,which also has the function of finding charging stations, in addition to other features for automotive systems .
Abusive practices may, in particular, consist of: […] (c) apply unequal conditions for trading partners in the case of equivalent services, thereby putting them at a disadvantage in competition.Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
In its defense, the Mountain View company said it “respectfully disagrees” with the antitrust regulators’ decision and values the advancement of Android Auto-compatible apps.
It is added that further analysis will be made on the documents to decide the next steps, so that it meets the strict safety guidelines of the driving applications that the system for smart cars supports.
Another recurrent case of a similar nature is given by the same Italian body, expected to be completed in November this year. It is worth noting that Google has already been investigated in other cases of alleged monopolistic practices regarding its ad platform.