CCI fines Google Rs 1338 cr for anti-competitive practices and is directed to modify its conduct
Google has suffered a significant setback in the important foreign market where it has invested billions of dollars over the past ten years after India’s competition regulator fined the search giant $161.9 million on Thursday for anti-competitive practices relating to Android mobile devices in “multiple markets.”
According to a press release from the Competition Commission of India, which started looking into Google three and a half years ago after receiving a complaint from two junior associates and a law student, Google’s requirement that device manufacturers pre-install the entire Google Mobile Suite and require that these apps be displayed prominently “amounts to imposition of an unfair condition on the device manufacturers” and is therefore “in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Competition Act, 2002.” After a draught of the highly anticipated report’s conclusions was sourced and reported by the press last year, the competition regulator’s handling of the report itself made headlines. As a result, Google filed a lawsuit against the regulator in court over the reported leak and denounced “the breach of confidence,” which it claimed made it more difficult for it to “defend itself and affect Google and its partners and consumers.” The regulator stated in its statement on Thursday that its probe also turned up the following:
- In violation of Section 4(2)(c) of the Act, Google has maintained its monopoly in the online search industry by denying competing search apps access to the market.
- In violation of Section 4(2)(e) of the Act, Google has used its dominating position in the Android OS app store industry to defend its position in online general search.
- Through the Google Chrome App, Google has taken advantage of its monopoly in the Android OS app store market to enter and defend its position in the non-OS specific web browser market, in violation of Section 4(2)(e) of the Act.
- Through YouTube, Google has taken advantage of its dominating position in the Android OS app store market to enter and defend its position in the OVHPs market, in violation of Section 4(2)(e) of the Act.
- Google has decreased the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices running on alternative versions of Android, or Android forks, to the detriment of consumers by making pre-installation of Google’s proprietary apps (particularly Google Play Store) conditional upon signing of AFA/ACC for all Android devices manufactured, distributed, and marketed by device manufacturers. This has limited technical or scientific development to the detriment of consumers, in violation of the law.
The watchdog was looking at whether Google had established a dominant position in five different markets: app stores, non-OS specific mobile web browsers, online video hosting services in India, licensable smartphone operating systems, and web search services. The regulator came to the conclusion that Google dominated each of those important markets. According to the antitrust watchdog, device manufacturers shouldn’t be required to include Google’s suite of apps, and the search engine giant shouldn’t bar vendors from using its Play Services APIs or offering them financial or other incentives. According to analysts, the regulator’s ruling may slow Google’s rate of market expansion. It’s also unclear how Google will adhere to the corrective actions without making some significant adjustments to its corporate operations. Google said it had not yet received the injunction and declined to respond right away.
As authorities start to be concerned about the reach of technology giants and consider whether that is harmful to local businesses, Google is coming under increasing scrutiny from governments around the world. Google was hit with a record $4.3 billion punishment in the EU for using Android’s dominance to stifle competition, but it was unsuccessful in its appeal. Additionally, it is governed by a new law in Germany that targets big businesses. More than 150 startups and companies in India started collaborating two years ago with the goal of creating an alliance, and they also considered starting an app store to lessen their reliance on Google. The opposition forced Google to postpone the implementation of its new Play Store billing regime in the nation.