India antitrust watchdog said to be investigating Google over Android abuse

According to a new Reuters report, India’s antitrust commission is looking into accusations that Google is abusing its popular Android OS to block its rivals. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) for the six months has been reviewing a case similar to one Google faced in Europe.

The European Commission found that Google had abused its market dominance since 2011 with practices such as forcing manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and its Chrome browser, together with its Google Play app store on Android devices. As for the CCI investigation, sources say, “It is on the lines of the EU case but at a preliminary stage.”

This is the first time the watchdog’s inquiry into allegations against Google over its Android platform is being reported. Google executives in recent months have met Indian antitrust officials at least once to discuss the complaint, which was filed by a group of individuals. The Indian watchdog could ask its investigations unit to further investigate the accusations against Google, or throw out the complaint if it lacks merit.

Back in October 2018, Google said it would charge smartphone makers a fee for using its popular Google Play app store and would also allow them to use rival versions of Android to comply with the EU order. However, this change is only applied to the European Economic Area, which comprises the 28 EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The Indian antitrust watchdog, in 2018 had imposed a fine of 1.36 billion rupees ($19 million) on Google for “search bias” and abuse of its dominant position. It also found Google had put its commercial flight search function in a prominent position on the search results page. However, Google appealed against that order, saying the ruling could cause it “irreparable” harm and reputational loss.