Google's monopoly on Android is already falling apart

Google’s monopoly on Android is already falling apart

The Competition Commission of India has imposed heavy fines on Google for its anti-competitive strategies that have allowed it to dominate the mobile ecosystem in India. The penalties totaling more than $250 million, reprimand Google for forcing smartphone makers to avoid the forks of Android, favor Google’s web search service, and pre-install popular cash cows like YouTube on phones.

Google has also been disciplined for imposing its own billing system on developers who allowed the giant to get up to 30% of all in-app purchases for apps listed on the App Store. google No stranger to giant penalties; The European Union imposed a record fine of nearly $5 billion on Google in 2018 for abusing its dominant market position – a Punishment upheld in September This year after Google’s appeal.

Google faces more antitrust scrutiny at home and abroad, which means more financial hits are almost inevitable. But what sets the modest $250+ million fine in India apart is the supplemental ordering service from India’s competition watchdog that will likely break the backbone of Google’s mobile-based business in the country.

It’s not money, but the repairs that really hurt

In its press releases, it has the largest competition regulator in India the summary A comprehensive set of corrective steps Google has to take or face more fees. Let’s start with the less complex, but highly controversial, aspect of Google’s unbalanced dominance with Android – In-app payments.

Google has been ordered to stop forcing its own internal payment channel – the Google Play billing system – on app developers. This mandatory payment scheme is the pipeline that allows Google to get a good 30% discount on all in-app payments from apps listed on the Play Store. Furthermore, Google was directed to Allow developers to integrate third-party payment systems in their applications.

Google chrome app on s8 screen.
Denizen/Shutterstock

Now, the 70/30 dividend policy has been controversial for a while, but it has been considered a mandatory bitter pill for developers if they want to list their apps on the Play Store. Yes, developers can list their apps elsewhere as well, but in doing so, they also miss out on the strict app security checks by Google, leaving users vulnerable to malware attacks.

Google reduced its share to 15% for apps that generate less than $1 million in revenue per year, Up to 10% in special scenarios. Moreover, Google has also been asked to be transparent when it comes to collecting and utilizing users’ payment data, particularly regarding the unfair improvement of the very popular payments app called Google Pay.

Finally, Google has been ordered to stop imposing any form of discriminatory hurdles if developers use a competing payment service or integrate rival Google Pay into their apps.

Hit Google where it matters

Beyond payments, the Competition Authority of India also has targeted Discriminatory Policies Governing Android Distribution Rules and Play Store Agreement Policies. CCI told Google that it will not force smartphone makers to pre-install their own apps, such as YouTube, Chrome, Maps and Gmail, to name a few.

Apply icons for Google services (YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, Duo, Meet, Google Podcasts) on the smartphone screen.
Kushiro K/Shutterstock

Furthermore, access to the Play Store will not be subject to pre-installation of Google apps, and Google also will not offer any incentives to do so. The search giant has also been told to allow Android forks, and to refrain from imposing any restrictions. With Android forks, developers often avoid Google products like search, which means Google will lose access to precious user data — and with it, plum advertising opportunities.

Additionally, the company has been directed to allow users to choose their search engine while setting up the device, and change it whenever they want. In short, Google will lose control in the markets that cover web browsers, search data, and online advertising – all at the same time.

Google was already Forced to relax in South KoreaAnd there are more concerns already under the scanner of competition in other markets. In India, Google’s Android operating system holds more than 95% of the market share. Google also has access to nearly 750 million Internet users in India – more than twice the population of the US – but Android restrictions will severely hurt its prospects in the country.

Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro.
Andrew Martinic/Digital Trends

The strict requirements imposed by the Indian competition authority will severely affect how Google controls the smartphone ecosystem and the neighboring ad market. The ruling may only lead to tougher action in other markets, especially in the European Union and the United States

The account is for Apple soon

Google’s restrictions on app billing systems have received generous criticism from the Android app developer community, but Apple Take control of in-app payments Much more restrictive. Aside from the strict revenue sharing channel, Apple enforces strict adherence to the App Store billing system. Developers even have to refrain from advertising a third-party payment system in their apps or reaching out to users via email to inform them of such convenience.

The latest example of developer dissatisfaction with Apple policy is Spotify audiobook drama. Spotify launched audiobooks within its app a little over a month ago, but Apple prevented Spotify from allowing users to purchase books directly from within the app. Instead, users had to click a button to request an email with a purchase link that took them to the Spotify audiobook web store.

Illustration of the App Store on the screen

It was an issue, and Spotify made sure to highlight it. According to a report in New York timesApple denied Spotify’s update request three times to facilitate payment flow. In the end, Apple decided that even the button-to-email formula to allow users to purchase an audiobook violated its policy.

As a result, Spotify had to withdraw the option to purchase the audiobook from its app, but not before the company Criticize Apple on unfair practices. Now, you need to visit the Spotify web store to buy the audiobooks before you can listen to them in the music streaming app.

Google’s trouble will soon be Apple’s, at least in India. In September last year, a monopoly lawsuit was filed Foot Against Apple in India to force developers to implement App Store billing. A month later, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) Launched An investigation into Apple’s operations in India over allegations that Apple abused its dominant market position in the country.

But unlike Google, Apple’s position is more serious. Google only enforces its own internal payment system for apps listed on the Play Store but allows flexibility for apps to be listed on alternative stores. The latter is called sideloading. Apple strongly opposes sideloadingwhich means it’s a take-or-leave position for developers who make iPhone and iPad apps.

The iPhone 14 Plus was held in a man's hand.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Things aren’t looking good for Apple in Europe either. The company was already Had to abandon the special Lightning connector And the USB-C port approval for iPhone Sold in mass by 2024.

In June 2020, the European Commission Launched An investigation of Apple into the App Store’s payment policies, which even restrict developers from informing users of alternative payment methods outside of Apple’s ecosystem. More than a separate investigation Abuse the contactless payments market with Apple Pay It was launched in May this year.

Apple is not immune to antitrust sanctions in India. In fact, a possible fine and restructuring order in India could open the door to antitrust issues and policy change for Apple around the world.

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