India’s competition regulator fined Google $161.9 million on Thursday over anti-competitive practices related to Android mobile devices in “multiple markets” in a major setback for the major overseas search giant as it has pumped billions of dollars over the past decade.
The Indian Competition Commission, which began investigating Google three and a half years ago after a complaint from two junior colleagues and a law school student, He said in a press release That Google require device manufacturers to pre-install the entire Google Mobile Suite and oblige them to prominently place such applications “amounts to imposing an unfair status on the device manufacturers” and thus was “a violation of Section 4(2)(a) (i) of the Act. “.
India is Google’s largest market by number of users. Google’s Android operating system runs on 97% of the country’s 600 million smartphones, according to research firm Counterpoint.
Google in 2020 It pledged to invest $10 billion in the South Asian market over the coming years. It has already funded up to $5.5 billion in Local telecom giants Geo Platforms And the airtel.
The competition regulator’s handling of the much-anticipated report made headlines last year after a draft of its findings were released Its source was reported by the press. In response, Google moved to sue the regulator in court over the leaking of the report and protested the “breach of trust,” which it said impairs its ability to “defend itself and harm Google and its partners.”
The authority said in its statement on Thursday that it found the following in its investigation:
Google has maintained its dominant position in the online search market resulting in the denial of market access to competing search applications in contravention of Section 4(2)(c) of the Act.
Google has taken advantage of its dominant position in the Android App Store market to protect its position in public online search in contravention of Section 4(2)(e) of the Act.
Google has taken advantage of its dominant position in the Android App Store market to enter as well as protect its position in the non-OS web browser market through the Google Chrome app and thus violates the provisions of Section 4(2)(e) of the Representation.
Google has taken advantage of its dominant position in the Android App Store market to enter as well as protect its position in the market of OVHPs through YouTube and thus violates the provisions of Section 4(2)(e) of the Act.
Google, by making pre-installation of proprietary Google apps (particularly the Google Play Store) conditional on the AFA/ACC signature of all Android devices manufactured/distributed/marketed by device manufacturers, has reduced the ability and incentive for device manufacturers to develop and sell devices that run on Alternative versions of Android, that is, Android forks and thus limit technical or scientific development to consumers, in violation of the provisions of Section 4(2)(b)(2) of the Act.
The watchdog was investigating whether Google held a dominant position in five different markets: the licensed smartphone operating system, app store, web search services, non-OS mobile web browsers and online video hosting platform in India.
The regulator concluded that Google was dominant in all those related markets.
In its statement, the antitrust watchdog said device manufacturers should not be forced to install the Google Apps package, and the search giant should not block access to Play Services APIs, cash and other incentives for sellers.
Analysts said the regulator’s order may limit the pace of Google’s growth in the market. It is unclear how Google can comply with the remedial measures without making some fundamental changes in its business strategies.
Google faces increased scrutiny from governments around the world as policymakers begin to worry about the reach of tech giants and assess whether it is hurting local businesses. Google has lost its appeal in exchange for a record fine of $4.3 billion In the European Union to use Android’s dominance to thwart competition. It is also subject to Germany’s new regulations targeting large companies.
Two years ago, he started more than 150 startups and companies in India Working to form an alliance They toyed with the idea of launching the App Store to reduce their dependence on Google. This rejection prompted Google to Delayed implementation of the new Play Store billing rule in the country.
Jagmeet Singh contributed to this report.
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