Daily Management Review

Google Misused Dominant Android Position, Probe By Indian Watchdog: Reuters


An investigation by Indian authorities on the business practices of Google has found that the dominant market position of the company in India has been misused by it and that capacity to choose alternate versions of its Android mobile operating system by device manufacturers has been curtailed, according to a report by the news agency Reuters. The Indian authorities have started a wider probe against the activities of the company by filing an antitrust case.
According to India’s competition law, it appears that “unfair conditions” were imposed on manufacturers by the restrictions by Google, said a 14-page order from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) which is reported to have been reviewed by Reuters.
Reports of the launch of an investigation against Google in April by the CCI were published last month. The main charge against Google was that the company had abused the market dominant position of its Android operating system to put rivals at a disadvantage.
The charges brought against Google are very similar to those that were brought against the US tech giant by the regulators of the European Union – a probe into which resulted in the slapping of a fine of $5 billion. Google was alleged ot have forced manufacturers to  pre-install its apps on Android devices. The verdict has been contested by Google.
According to the Reuters report on the probe against Google in India, the CCI said in its order that the company “reduced the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operated on alternate versions of Android” by making it conditional upon manufacturers to pre install Google’s proprietary apps.
Google referred to a statement that it had issued last month when Reuters contacted it for comments on the issue. In that statement, Google had claimed that millions of Indian had been helped to get connected to the internet because the devices had become more affordable since the installment of Android. The company had said earlier that it was ready to work closely with the CCI “to demonstrate how Android has led to more competition and innovation, not less”.
There were no comments from the CCI.
Google could be cleared of any charges of wrongdoing even though the the order, dated April 16, called for a wider probe against Google. It was not clear what amount of fine could be slapped against Google in case the CCI found allegations against the company to be true.
About 88 per cent of the smartphones of the world are powered by Android operating systems and it is absolutely free to use. According to estimates of Counterpoint Research, the Android operating system is used in about 90 per cent of smartphones in India.
The CCI order said that Google has argued that Android pre-installation obligations were “limited in scope” and that it was an open source platform.
According to the CCI and sources, there were a number of complainants in the Google case in India where in the complainants have alleged that an abusive behavior had been adopted by Google which was very similar to the kind of treatment that Google had meted out to device manufacturers in Europe. Complainants said that clear instances of anti-competitive practices had been undertaken by Google “with the aim of cementing Google’s dominant position”.
The CCI said in its order that Google’s “impugned conduct may help perpetuate its dominance in online search markets while resulting in denial of market access for competing search apps”, said the Reuters report.