Google was fined Rs. 1,337.76 crore for abusing its dominant position in various markets of the Android mobile ecosystem.
Here is the official CCI tweet about it.
CCI imposes a monetary fine of ₹1,337.76 crore on Google for abusing dominant position in various markets in the Android mobile ecosystem. Press Release: #AntitrustOrder #antitrustlaw #Google #CCI pic.twitter.com/FE5Yh8PWr4October 20, 2022
CCI was investigating whether Google was abusing its dominant position in 5 relevant markets: Licensable OS, Android App Store, Web Search Services, Non-OS Specific Browsers, and Online Video Hosting Platform. The watchdog found that Google was at fault in all five markets.
Google discussed with the CCI about the competition Apple faced in all these restrictions. But CCI concluded that Apple’s business model differs from Google’s in that it relies on its vertically integrated ecosystem, while Google’s business model ultimately depends on increasing users on its platforms.
It was also noted that there is some degree of competition between the iOS and Android platforms, but that it is limited to the moment of the decision to purchase the device.
Google is under scrutiny by various antitrust watchdogs around the world for its monopolistic practices in search and Android.
Antitrust fines are nothing new for Google. Google was recently fined $4 billion in Europe after losing an antitrust appeal.
Most interesting is the cease and desist order imposed by the ICC on anticompetitive practices. The CCI also indicated some of the following measures:
I. OEMs should not be prevented from (a) choosing between Google’s proprietary apps to be pre-installed and not be forced to pre-install a bouquet of apps, and (b) deciding to place pre-installed apps on their smart devices devices.
ii. Licensing from the Play Store (including Google Play Services) to OEMs shall not be linked to the pre-installation requirement for Google Search Services, Chrome Browser, YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail or any other Google application.
iii. Google will not deny access to Play Services APIs to the detriment of OEMs, application developers, and their existing or potential competitors. This would ensure application interoperability between the Android OS that meets the compatibility requirements of Google and Android Forks. By virtue of this remedy, application developers could easily port their applications to Android forks.
4. Google will not offer monetary/other incentives to, or enter into any agreement with, OEMs to guarantee the exclusivity of their search services.
v. Google must not impose anti-fragmentation obligations on OEMs, as is currently done under the AFA/ACC. For devices that do not have Google’s proprietary apps pre-installed, OEMs must be allowed to manufacture/develop smart devices based on Android forks for themselves.
saw. Google must not encourage or compel OEMs not to sell smart devices based on Android forks.
vii. Google will not restrict users from uninstalling their pre-installed apps.
viii. Google will allow users, during initial device setup, to choose their default search engine for all search entry points. Users should have the flexibility to easily configure and change default settings on their devices in as few steps as possible.
ix. Google will allow app store developers to distribute their app stores through the Play Store.
x. Google will not in any way restrict the ability of app developers to distribute their apps via sideloading.
Google needs to make big changes to comply
The ramifications of these measures could be enormous if they go into effect. This undermines Google’s primary approach to Android. This forces the company to change the way it operates the Android ecosystem in India and possibly the world.
For example, it states that Google should allow users to choose the default search engine on initial device setup.
This will be a big change for Google and Android if these measures actually go into effect. For example, imagine your phone asking you if you want to set Google or Bing as the default search engine on the configuration page. pic.twitter.com/huDm0pWqzQOctober 20, 2022
As you can see, these measures suggested by the CCI would require considerable changes to be made by Google on Android to be compatible. Google cannot comply with these measures without making fundamental changes to its business practices. It remains to be seen whether the CCI will keep up with Google if it is following these measures in the future. It will be a welcome sight to see