Italy fines Google for excluding Enel e-car app from Android Auto


FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is pictured atop an office building in Irvine, California, U.S. August 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

MILAN (Reuters) - 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 - a system that allows apps to be used safely in cars - unfairly curtailing its use while favouring Google Maps, the regulator said on Thursday.

"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 is owned by Enel's "e-solutions" subsidiary Enel X, which 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 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.

The regulator 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.

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.

($1 = 0.8264 euros)

(Reporting by Maria Pia Quaglia and Elvira Pollina; Additional reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Giulia Segreti and David Clarke)

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