Italy slams Google with 102 million euro fine

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The fine is for their “anti-competitive behaviour” in excluding Enel e-car app from Android Auto.

Italy’s competition regulator has fined Google 102 million euros ($123 million) for excluding an e-mobility app developed by Enel from the U.S. tech giant’s Android system.

For more than two years, Google has not allowed Enel’s JuicePass to operate on Android Auto. The regulator said that this practice unfairly curtails its use while favouring Google Maps.

“The contested behaviour can influence the development of e-mobility in a crucial phase … with possible negative spill-over effects on the growth of electric vehicles (EV),” it said.

In a statement announcing the fine for abuse of a dominant position, the regulator asked Google to make JuicePass available on Android Auto.

JuicePass belongs to Enel’s “e-solutions” subsidiary Enel X. It was they who brought the case against Google. The app offers users services for finding and booking EV charging stations on maps and viewing details.

Google “respectfully disagrees” with the ruling

Google “respectfully disagrees” with the antitrust regulator’s decision and will examine the documents to decide its next steps, a spokesman for Google in Italy said.

Google’s priority for Android Auto is to ensure safety while driving, with stringent guidelines on which apps it supports, he said.

“There are thousands of apps compatible with Android Auto, and our goal is to enable even more developers to make their apps available over time,” the spokesman said.

Still, the Italian authorities said the U.S. giant had a dominant position that allows it to control the access of app developers to final users through Android and its app store Google Play.

“Google holds a dominant position allowing it to control the access of app developers to end-users,” said the authority. “About three-quarters of smartphones in Italy use the Android system. Google is a major global player in the digital economy and relies on a very significant financial strength.”

Enel acknowledged the decision, saying it was an important enabling factor for the growth of electric mobility in Italy.

“In accordance with this decision, a level playing field with Google apps will be granted for Enel X’s app, JuicePass, and in general for all recharging app developers,” it said.