Google claims that Indian competition will hit growth
The growth of Google’s Android ecosystem is on the verge of stalling in India due to an antitrust order asking the company to change how it markets the platform, the US company has said in a Supreme Court challenge seen by Reuters.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) fined Alphabet-owned Google in October $161 million (€150 million) for exploiting its dominant position in Android, which powers 97pc smartphones in India, and asked it to change restrictions imposed on smartphone makers related to pre- install apps.
Google has so far said the CCI decision will force it to change its long-standing business model, but the Indian Supreme Court filing for the first time quantifies the impact and details the changes the company will need to make.
Google must change its existing contracts, introduce new licensing agreements and change its existing arrangements with more than 1,100 device manufacturers and thousands of app developers, it said.
“Immense progress in the growth of an ecosystem of device makers, app developers and users is on the verge of halting due to the remedial directions,” Google’s filing, which is not public, said.
“Google will be required to make far-reaching changes to the Android mobile platform that has been in place for the past 14-15 years.”
A Google spokesperson declined to comment.
Google has been concerned about the Indian decision as the legal remedies ordered are seen as more far-reaching than the European Commission’s 2018 landmark for imposing illegal restrictions on Android mobile device makers. Google has challenged the record $4.3 billion fine in that case.
Google licenses its Android system to smartphone makers, but critics say it imposes restrictions such as mandatory pre-installation of proprietary apps that restrict competition. The company claims that such agreements help keep Android free.
The CCI in October ordered Google not to ban the uninstallation of its apps by Android phone users in India – currently, one cannot delete apps like Google Maps or YouTube from their Android phones once they are pre-installed.
The CCI also said that Google’s licensing of the Play Store “shall not be tied to the pre-installation requirement” of Google’s search services, the Chrome browser, YouTube or other Google applications.
“No other jurisdiction has ever requested such far-reaching changes based on similar conduct,” Google said in its court filings.
The company has asked the Supreme Court to put on hold the remedial measures ordered by the CCI, starting from January 19, court documents dated January 7 showed.
The matter will probably be dealt with in the coming days.
Google has also alleged in its legal documents that the CCI’s investigative unit copied parts of a 2018 European ruling against the US firm, Reuters has reported. CCI and the European Commission have not responded to these allegations.