India Antitrust Investigation Reveals Google Abusing Android Dominance

The Indian Antimonopoly Authority, following a two-year investigation, found that Google abused the dominant position of its Android operating system in India, using its "enormous financial power" , thereby causing unlawful damage to competitors.

According to a statement from the Competition Commission of India (CCI), Alphabet's Google has reduced "the ability and incentive for device manufacturers to develop and sell products running alternative versions of Android . " A Reuters source said Google has yet to receive an investigation report. However, the company has officially announced that it is going to partner with CCI and "demonstrate that Android has led to increased, not weakened competition and innovation . "

India Antitrust Investigation Reveals Google Abusing Android Dominance

Another source told Reuters that CCI management has not yet reviewed the investigation report itself, but Google will still have the opportunity to substantiate its position before a final decision is made. In particular, it may impose fines on the company, and Google has the right to appeal to an Indian court.

At the same time, India is conducting antitrust investigations against Google, which concern payment systems and smart TVs. Investigations of Google's activities were previously carried out by departments in Europe, the United States and other countries. And this week the company was fined nearly $ 180 million in South Korea for blocking alternative versions of Android.

The report said that Google sent at least 24 responses to the Indian agency during the investigation, insisting that its actions were not detrimental to competition. The Authority has sought clarification on the case from 62 companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi. Of the 520 million smartphones in India, 98% run Android, according to Counterpoint Research. After initiating an investigation in 2019, the CCI suspected Google of limiting the ability of manufacturers to choose alternative versions (forks) of the OS and forcing them to pre-install their applications.

The 750-page document says that mandatory preinstallation of applications is "tantamount to creating an illegal environment for device manufacturers" in violation of Indian competition laws. At the same time, the company used the mechanisms of its Play Store to maintain its dominant position. The Play Store's policies, according to CCI, are "one-sided, ambiguous, vague, biased and arbitrary," and Android has "enjoyed a dominant position" in the licensed smartphone and tablet operating system market since 2011.

The investigation, according to Reuters, was initiated in 2019, with a complaint filed by two antitrust researchers and a law student. India remains one of the key markets for Google. Last year, the company announced its intention to spend $ 10 billion over 5-7 years on investments and acquisitions, which is the search giant's largest commitment to an emerging market.


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