’s) investigation arm which accused it of deploying “huge financial muscle” and abusing the dominant position of its Android operating system in India to hurt competition.
The probe ordered by CCI in April 2019, questioned Google, whose Android operating system holds nearly 98% share of the smartphone market, along with several Indian and foreign tech companies including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Paytm, Phone-Pe, Mozilla, Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and Karbonn.
As per reports, the probe found Google India guilty of stifling competition and innovation to the detriment of the market and consumers in order to maintain its dominance in search, music (through YouTube), browser (Chrome), app library (Play Store) and other key services.
“We look forward to working with the Competition Commission of India to demonstrate how Android has led to more competition and innovation, not less,” a spokesperson for Google told ET.
The investigation report, of nearly 750 pages, however, is not the final order passed by the CCI and may see changes. It may also impose stiff penalties on the company, which has the option to appeal against it in the Court of Law.
ALSO READ TECH NEWSLETTER OF THE DAY
Last year, there were 4.28 billion mobile internet users on the planet, meaning that more than 90% of people who accessed the internet did so using a mobile device. But this increasingly wireless world we live in is an illusion.
An official familiar with the development said that Google is yet to receive the Director General’s report.
“It’s important to note that the DG’s findings do not reflect the final decision of the CCI. The submission of the DG’s report to the CCI is a procedural step and does not prejudge the outcome of the CCI’s investigation…It is unfortunate that the confidentiality of the CCI’s investigation process has been compromised again,” the person said.
The investigation looked into a variety of issues after CCI first received a complaint alleging that Google India had hindered the development and market access of rival mobile apps by requiring smartphone manufacturers through certain exclusive deals to pre-install its proprietary apps and /or services.
The company has been under scanner recently along with other tech giants such as Apple for allegations of anti-competitiveness for charging a 30% commission on in-app digital purchases through its play stores. CCI is also currently investigating that matter.
Alliance of Digital India Foundation, an alliance of 350 Indian startups including the likes of Paytm and BharatMatrimony among others said that the CCI’s finding that Google is stifling competition and innovation in the market, coming on the heels of similar actions the world over in the last couple of weeks, is a great development.
“This will count as one of the first major steps by Indian regulators to reign in the might of Google. Together, we must continue our efforts towards blocking the tech giant from indulging in abusive practices.” Abuse by dominant players puts other players in the internet economy at a disadvantage. The internet & app economy is made up of scores of small players, and it is crucial that their interests are protected, the ADIF added.
Meanwhile, the industry official quoted above said that Google is confident that there is no evidence of any harm to OEMs, mobile OS developers, app developers or consumers as a result of its agreements. “To the contrary, OEMs, mobile OS developers and app developers are thriving in India. Google believes that Android has helped create a vibrant, competitive, and innovative mobile phone ecosystem in India,” the person said.