Google fined Rs.1337.76 crore by CCI for Android anti-competitive activities

Alphabet Inc.’s Google was been fined Rs. 1337.76 crore ($161.95 million) and told to change its strategy for the Android platform by India’s competition watchdog on Thursday for doing things that hurt competition. Additionally, Google was told by the Commission to change its behaviour within a specific time frame.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) said Google used its dominance in markets like online search and Android app stores to safeguard its programmes like Chrome and YouTube in mobile Web browsers and online video hosting.

CCI also barred Google from revenue sharing arrangements with smartphone makers because they helped Google gain search service dominance to the absolute exclusion of competitors. In this case, the Commission looked at how Google licence Android and its own mobile apps (like Play Store, Google Search, Google Chrome, YouTube, etc.).

In 2019, two junior Indian antitrust research associates and a law school student complained about Android. The Indian lawsuit is similar to Google’s $5 billion penalties in Europe for compelling manufacturers to pre-install its apps on Android smartphones.

Furthermore, India’s tech sector is tightening and the U.S. corporation is facing antitrust cases. Google’s smart TV business and in-app payments system are under investigation by the competition watchdog. To refresh our memory, Google was fined Rs. 135.86 crore by CCI for search bias in 2018.

Key Takeaways from the CCI Statement
  • India notified Google on Thursday that it couldn’t stop smartphone users from uninstalling pre-installed applications such as Google Maps and Gmail.
  • CCI also asked Google to let users choose their search engine of preference for all relevant services when setting up a phone for the very first time.
  • Google will not put any limits on how app developers can get their apps to users through side-loading. CCI also advises Google to let developers of app stores distribute their app stores through the Play Store.
  • Google will not withhold Play Services APIs from OEMs, app developers, or competitors. This ensures app compatibility between Android OS and Android Forks. This fix lets app developers quickly port their apps to Android forks.
  • Google won’t give OEMs money or make other arrangements to make sure they have exclusive access to its search service.
    Google will not enforce OEM anti-fragmentation obligations like AFA or ACC.
  • OEMs should be allowed to make Android forks-based smart devices without Google’s exclusive apps.
  • Google will not reward OEMs for not selling Android fork-based smart devices.

As a result of Google’s violation of Section 4 of the Act, the Commission assessed the company a provisional fine of Rs. 1337.76 crore. Google has 30 days to give the required financial information and any supporting documents.

Adding to the story, CCI said in a statement, mentions that

The Commission opined that the markets should be allowed to compete on merits and the onus is on the dominant players (in the present case, Google) that its conduct does not impinge this competition on merits. By virtue of the agreements discussed above, Google ensured that users continue to use its search services on mobile devices which facilitated un-interrupted growth of advertisement revenue for Google.