India’s fair trade regulator, the Competition Commission of India (CCI), said on October 20 that it had imposed a fine of 13.38 billion rupees (about $162million) on Google for its anti-competitive behaviour in Android mobile devices. In addition, the CCI also asked Google not to offer any incentives to smartphone makers to preinstall Google’s search services exclusively.
The report mentioned that Google faces a series of antitrust cases and stricter technology industry regulations in India. Google’s business operations in the smart TV industry, as well as its in-app payment mechanism, are also being investigated by the CCI.
According to the CCI, Google utilised its dominance in Android’s online search and app store to maintain its position in mobile web browsers and online video hosting for applications like Chrome and YouTube.
The CCI also restricts Google from entering into certain revenue-sharing agreements with smartphone makers, noting that such practices help Google ensure the exclusivity of its search service to the complete exclusion of competitors. Google has yet to comment on this.
The US company faces many antitrust cases and tightening regulations in India’s existing tech sector. The Android-related investigation began in 2019 and was sparked by complaints from two junior Indian antitrust researchers and a law student.
The Indian case is similar to what Google faces in Europe, where regulators have fined the company $4 billion for forcing manufacturers to preinstall its apps on Android devices.
India ordered Google not to restrict smartphone users from uninstalling its preinstalled apps, such as Google Maps and Gmail. The CCI also asked Google to allow users to choose their search engine for all related services when they first set up their phones.
According to Counterpoint Research, 97% of the 600 million smartphones in India are powered by Google’s Android operating system.