- On April 15, 2015, Almunia’s successor, Margrethe Vestager, a 47-year-old former finance minister from Denmark, approached the same Berlaymont podium in the same auditorium. “Dominant companies can’t abuse their dominant position to create advantage in related markets,” she said bluntly, formally accusing Google of exploiting its supremacy in general search to dominate the market for online product searches—the equivalent of an indictment, the very move that Almunia had sought to avoid through the private settlement at Davos.
That wasn’t all. Vestager (pronounced Vestayer) announced a new investigation into whether Google had abused its dominant position with the Android operating system for smartphones. She suggested other cases were possible, too—regarding Google’s expansion into the markets for local search, maps, images, travel, etc. For Google, this was a nightmare portending years of scrutiny, a fine of up to $6 billion, and edicts that could forever limit the effectiveness of its products. The company must file a response to Vestager’s “statement of objections” by Aug. 17.
In the span of just 15 months, Google somehow lost Europe.