India antitrust probe finds Google abused Android dominance, report shows
Indian visitors talk on their mobile phones outside the Google stall at the India Mobile Congress in New Delhi on Sept. 27, 2017.
Getty Images abused the dominant position of its Android operating system in India, using its “huge financial muscle” to illegally hurt competitors, the country’s antitrust authority found in a report on its two-year probe seen by Reuters.| AFP | Getty Images
Google abused the dominant position of its Android operating system in India, using its “huge financial muscle” to illegally hurt competitors, the country’s antitrust authority found in a report on its two-year probe seen by Reuters.
According to the Competition Commission of India (CCI), the Google acquisition of Alphabet Inc reduced the “ability and incentive of device manufacturer’s to develop and market devices running on other versions of Android.” This is according the report of the CCI’s June investigations unit.
According to the U.S. tech firm, Reuters received a statement from it stating that they look forward to working together with CCI to demonstrate how Android has led more innovation and competition than ever before.
According to Reuters, Google did not receive the investigation report.
CCI didn’t respond to requests for comment. A source familiar with this case said that senior CCI members would review the report, giving Google another opportunity to defend itself before issuing a final ordnance, which may include sanctions.
Google could appeal to any Indian court order.
Its findings are the latest antitrust setback for Google in India, where it faces several probes in the payments app and smart television markets. It has been under investigation in Europe and the United States.
Google received a $180million fine from South Korea’s antitrust regulator this week for blocking the development of customized Android versions.
‘Vague, biased and arbitrary’
Google submitted at least 24 responses during the probe, defending itself and arguing it was not hurting competition, the report says.
Microsoft, Amazon.com, Apple, as well as smartphone makers like Samsung and Xiaomi, were among 62 entities that responded to CCI questions during its Google investigation, the report says.
Counterpoint Research has found that Android is the operating system of 98% Indian smartphones.
The CCI in 2019 ordered a probe into Google to determine if it had used its dominant position to limit the options available to device manufacturers to choose from other versions of Android’s mobile operating system, and to force them to install Google apps.
According to the 750-page report, the pre-installation of applications “amounts as an unfair condition to the device manufacturers”, in violation of India’s competition law. However, the company used the Play Store app store position to maintain its dominant position.
According to the report, Play Store policies were “one-sided”, ambiguous and vague. Android, however, has “enjoyed its dominant position” among licensable OS for tablets and smartphones since 2011.
The probe was triggered in 2019 after two Indian junior antitrust research associates and a law student filed a complaint, Reuters reported.
India is still a major growth market for Google. It said last year it would spend $10 billion in the country over five to seven years through equity investments and tie-ups, its biggest commitment to a key growth market.