The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed an interim fine of Rs 1,337.76 crore ($162 million) on Google for “abusing its dominant position” in several categories related to the country’s Android mobile device ecosystem.
The antitrust watchdog said Google abused its dominant position in licensing its operating system for smart mobile devices, the Android smartphone app market, general web search services, non-OS mobile web browsers and online video hosting platforms. .
CCI also issued cease and desist directions to the tech giant on a number of its business practices. For example, he said Google should not deny access to its Play Services plugins to “disadvantaged” original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and Play Store licensing for OEMs should not be tied to a requirement to pre-install Google search, Chrome. browser, YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail or any other Google app.
CCI also said that Google will have to allow users to choose their default search engine during initial device setup. He asked Google not to limit the ability of app developers to distribute their apps through sideloading – offering their apps outside of the Google Play store. This is important because Google has long warned users against sideloading apps, calling it a potential security threat.
The CCI has given Google 30 days to provide the required financial details and supporting documents – the final fine may increase.
Google is facing a series of antitrust cases in India. The competition watchdog is also looking into Google’s business practices in the smart TV market and its in-app payments system.
In 2019, the CCI ordered a detailed investigation following complaints from consumers of Android smartphones. Android is an open source mobile operating system installed by smartphone and tablet OEMs.
According to the CCI, Google manages the Android operating system as well as other licenses, giving it an advantage over its competitors by pre-installing the most important search entry points, such as search apps, widgets and the Chrome browser, on Android devices. In addition, Google has also secured a significant competitive advantage over its other revenue-generating applications, such as YouTube, on Android devices.
“Competitors of these services could never enjoy the same level of market access that Google has secured and incorporated through MADA (Mobile Application Distribution Agreement) network effects coupled with a status quo bias that creates significant barriers to entry for Google’s competitors. operating in the respective markets,” the CCI said in its order.
Google did not respond to requests for comment.
In September 2021, after the report of the CCI’s initial findings on Google was leaked, the company initiated legal action against the regulator. This is the second time the tech giant has been fined by the CCI. In 2018, it fined Google Rs 136 million for unfair business practices in the Indian online search market.
The amount of Google’s CCI fine is significantly lower compared to fines imposed on Google in other jurisdictions. In 2017, the European Commission fined Google €2.42 billion for violating European Union antitrust rules after it found that the company had abused its dominant market position as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison service . The European Court of Justice’s General Court this year mostly upheld the EU executive’s 2018 decision to fine Google more than 4 billion euros ($3.99 billion).