Google Abused Android Dominance, says India’s Antitrust WatchDog

Google

India’s antitrust commission has been looking into accusations which tells Alphabet Inc’s unit Google abusing their popular Android mobile operating system to block their rivals.

Since 6 months, The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been reviewing a case similar to Google faced in Europe which led to a fine of EUR 4.34 billion ($5 billion) by antitrust regulators last year.

The European Commission has found Google abusing their market dominance since 2011 with certain practices such as forcing manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and their Chrome browser, along with their Google Play app store on Android devices.

One of the sources said- “It is on the lines of the well-known EU case, but it is currently in a preliminary stage.

Google, as well as CCI, declined to comment.

In the recent past, Google executives met Indian antitrust officials to discuss the complaint that was filed by a group of individuals.

The Indian watchdog might ask their investigations unit to investigate the accusations against Google further, or they could also throw out the complaint if it lacks merit.

Android is an OS used freely by users, and it is present on more than 85 percent of the world’s smartphones. In India, about 98 percent of the smartphones which were sold in 2018 were Android. In October, Google said that they would charge smartphone makers with a fee since they used the popular Google Play app store and would also allow them to use rival versions of Android so that they can comply with the EU order.

This change has been covered only in the European Economic Area, and it only comprises of 28 EU countries including Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.

One of the sources said- “The CCI will have a tough time to not initiate a formal investigation in the case of Google, given the EU case, unless they show that the problem has been addressed (by remedies).”

The Indian complaint has been presented as the latest regulatory headache for the Mountain View, California-based company in a key growth market such as India.

Last year, the Indian antitrust watchdog ended up imposing a fine of 1.36 billion rupees ($19 million) on Google since they had “search bias” and abused their dominant position. It also found that Google had put their commercial flight search function in a prominent position that shows up on the search results page.

Google appealed against that order, stating that the ruling might cause “irreparable” harm and reputational loss to them.

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