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India fines Google $162 million for anti-competitive practices on Android

India’s antitrust watchdog fined Google $161.9 million on Thursday for anti-competitive practices related to Android mobile devices in “multiple markets” in a major setback for the search giant in the key overseas nation where it has poured billions of dollars over the past decade.

The Competition Commission of India, which began investigating Google several years ago after complaints from local firms, said in its order that Google requiring device manufacturers to pre-install its entire Google Mobile Suite and mandating prominent placement of those apps “amounts to imposition of unfair condition on the device manufacturers” and thus was in “contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Act.”

It also ordered the Android-maker to not offer any incentives to smartphone makers to exclusively carry its search services.

India is Google’s largest market by users. The company in 2020 pledged to invest $10 billion in the South Asian market over the coming years. Google has already financed up to $5.5 billion in the local telecom giants Jio Platforms and Airtel.

The order also found:

Google has perpetuated its dominant position in the online search market resulting in denial of market access for competing search apps in contravention of Section 4(2)(c) of the Act.

Google has leveraged its dominant position in the app store market for Android OS to protect its position in online general search in contravention of Section 4(2)(e) of the Act.

Google has leveraged its dominant position in the app store market for Android OS to enter as well as protect its position in non-OS specific web browser market through Google Chrome App and thereby contravened the provisions of Section 4(2)(e) of the Act.

Google has leveraged its dominant position in the app store market for Android OS to enter as well as protect its position in OVHPs market through YouTube and thereby contravened provisions of Section 4(2)(e) of the Act.

Google, 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/ marketed by device manufacturers, has reduced the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operating on alternative versions of Android i.e., Android forks and thereby limited technical or scientific development to the prejudice of the consumers, in violation of the provisions of Section 4(2)(b)(ii) of the Act.

The watchdog was investigating whether Google had assumed dominant position in the licensable OS market for smartphones, app store, web search services, non-OS specific mobile web browsers, and online video hosting platform in India.

It concluded that Google was dominant in all of those relevant markets.

The antitrust watchdog said in its order today that device manufacturers should not be forced to install Google’s bouquet of apps and the search giant should not deny access to its Play Services APIs and monetary and other incentives to vendors.

(More to follow)

India fines Google $162 million for anti-competitive practices on Android by Manish Singh originally published on TechCrunch

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