Google plans legal challenge to India's antitrust crackdown on Android sources

Google plans legal challenge to India’s antitrust crackdown on Android sources

  • Google faces increasing antitrust scrutiny around the world
  • Two requests from India hit Google in India in recent days
  • Google’s Android India May Infect Business Sources
  • The company sees guidance sweeping nature resources

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Google is planning a legal challenge to block a decision by India’s antitrust watchdog to change its approach to the Android operating system, lest it restrict how it promotes the platform, sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters.

Alphabet Corporation (GOOGL.O) The unit has been fined $275 million in two Indian antitrust decisions since last week – one for its policies of charging in-app kickbacks and the other for abusing its market position for Android.

The rulings come as Google faces increased antitrust scrutiny around the world. Last month, it suffered a major setback when a European court upheld a ruling in 2018 saying it largely confirmed a ruling that the company had imposed “unlawful restrictions on Android mobile device manufacturers”. Google plans to appeal the decision, facing a record fine of $4.1 billion.

Three sources familiar with the company’s thinking said the Competition Commission of India (CCI) decision for Android, although it included a lower fine of $162 million, has alarmed Google as it seeks widespread remedial measures.

One source said Google was concerned that the CCI’s decision could increase regulatory pressures in other jurisdictions, and a legal appeal is being planned to block implementation of the antitrust directive within weeks.

Google declined to comment on its legal plans, repeating its statement last week that the CCI order was “a major setback for Indian consumers and businesses, opening up serious security risks… and raising the cost of mobile devices for Indians.”

Google’s senior adviser, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, tweeted on Wednesday that the “inherent flaws and patents” of the matter make the challenge inevitable and likely to succeed.

Google has faced criticism globally for licensing its Android operating system to smartphone operators but signing restrictive, non-competitive agreements. The American company assures that Android has created more options for everyone and such agreements help keep the operating system free.

In the case of the European Commission, for example, its antitrust authority ruled in 2018 that Google abused its dominant position by forcing manufacturers to preinstall two of its apps — Google Search and Chrome — along with the Google Play Store on Android devices. .

One source said the Indian demand is worrisome as it goes further and imposes restrictions on a larger set of Google apps – “a Play Store license…must not be tied to pre-installation requirements” for Google search services, Chrome browser, YouTube, Google Maps or Gmail or any other Google App.

Faisal Kawosa, founder of Indian research firm Techarc, said pre-installation restrictions could force Google to consider different revenue models such as charging licensing fees to device makers for Android in India, as they did in Europe.

“CCI’s guidance hits the heart of Google’s revenue model for Android – which is based on a game of scale where the user base is larger, and there are multiple avenues for monetization,” Kaousa said.

In Europe, 75% of 550 million smartphones run Android, compared to 97% of India’s 600 million, according to Counterpoint Research estimates.

Google is also concerned that the CCI has instructed it not to impose any restrictions in India on so-called “sideloading,” the practice of downloading apps without using the App Store, and allowing other app stores to be available within its Play Store, two of the sources said.

However, these expectations are expected to raise the bar for local competitors, such as Indus App Bazaar, which offers thousands of apps in English and local languages. This week, Indus said the demand “will lead to more choice and innovation for Indian developers”.

Additional reporting by Aditya Kalra, Arban Chatrovide and Moncef Vengatel in New Delhi; Editing by Sanjeev Migliani and Louise Heavens

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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