India continues to be a profitable but tough market for Big Tech players to negotiate, and players like Google can attest to this. The tech titan has run afoul of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) multiple times, and now, it claims that an antitrust order issued by the body may adversely impact the growth of the use of Android in the country.
This development also comes after its plea to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) last week for an interim stay on the order was dismissed.
The order in question was issued by the CCI last year – at a time when Google was slapped with a hefty fine of $162 million for abusing its dominance in the mobile operating system markets (and four others) and imposed “unfair conditions” on the device manufacturers. The CCI concluded that the “onus is on the dominant players (in the present case, Google) that its conduct does not impinge this competition on merits.” And Google, apart from having to pay the financial penalty, was required to change its contracts with mobile manufacturers and stop forcing them to install Google’s host of proprietary apps.
Google, at that time, was not happy after being slapped with a hefty fine and asked to change its anti-competitive practices – the company called it a “major setback for Indian consumers and businesses.” Now, a report by Reuters highlights that the Mountain View-headquartered tech titan has filed a challenge with the Supreme Court in India, arguing that the order by the CCI could mean that the growth in the use of Android in the world’s second-largest internet market could stall.
Android currently powers the majority of smartphones in India, while Google’s rival Apple is working towards securing a greater market share by moving the production of its iPhones to India and reducing its over-dependence on China.
Google argues that the order by the country’s antitrust watchdog will alter its own arrangements with over 1,100 device manufacturers and thousands of app developers, which could result in the stalling of Google’s thriving Android ecosystem in the country. In a filing, the company said that the “tremendous advancement in growth of an ecosystem of device manufacturers, app developers, and users is on the verge of coming to a halt because of the remedial directions” that Google was asked to make by the CCI.
Google considers it more sweeping than the ruling issued by the European Commission in 2018 for the imposition of unlawful restrictions on Android mobile device makers – the company said, “No other jurisdiction has ever asked for such far-reaching changes based on similar conduct.” If Google loses this one as well, then it will have little choice but to cease imposing restrictions like mandatory pre-installation of its own apps, or prohibiting the uninstallation of its apps by Indian Android users.