Italy's anti-trust authority says the Alphabet company abused its market position by blocking an app called Enel X for users of electric vehicles on Android and app store.

In this May 8, 2019 file photo, a sign is pictured outside a Google office near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, US.
In this May 8, 2019 file photo, a sign is pictured outside a Google office near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, US. (Reuters)

Italy's anti-trust authority has fined Google more than $120 million (100 million euros) for shutting out a rival's smartphone app offering recharging of electric vehicles.

Google's Android operating system and Google Play app store dominate the Italian market, and the authority said the firm abused its market position by blocking an Enel X app for users of electric vehicles.

The regulator added on Thursday that it would require Google to make Enel X's app available on Android Auto, which mirrors features of an Android device, such as a smartphone, on a car dashboard screen.

"We respectfully disagree with the authority’s decision and we will review our options," a Google spokesman said in a statement.

He added that some apps are not supported on the Android Auto platform "based on driver-distraction tests and regulatory and industry standards".

The fine of more than $120 million is for a violation of article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which regulates monopolies and issues involving restriction of competition.

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'Google favoured its own maps app'

Italy found Google did not allow Enel X Italia to develop an Android Auto-compatible version of its JuicePass app.

JuicePass offers services relating to recharging electric vehicles, such as finding the nearest charging station and reserving a space there.

"By refusing Enel X Italia interoperability with Android Auto, Google has unfairly limited the possibilities for end-users to avail themselves of the Enel X Italia app when driving and recharging an electric vehicle," the authority stated.

"Google has consequently favoured its own Google Maps app," added the authority.

"The exclusion of the Enel X Italia app from Android Auto has been going on for more than two years, and if it were to continue, could permanently jeopardise Enel X Italia's chances of building a solid user base at a time of significant growth in sales of electric vehicles."

This, the body concluded, amounted to "an impoverishment of consumer choice and an obstacle to technological progress", which could influence the development of electric mobility.

As a result, the authority said it had ordered Google to make available to Enel X Italia and other app developers programming tools which are interoperable with Android Auto, while adding that it would monitor compliance of its ruling via an independent expert with whom Google would be obliged to cooperate.

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Source: AFP