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India Fines Google US$161.9 Million Over Unfair Practices

The Competition Commission of India fined Google the equivalent of US$161.9 million "for abusing its dominant position in several markets" by prioritising its own line of Android apps, the regulator announced in a press release yesterday. The report accuses the company of imposing an "unfair condition" on phone makers by requiring that Google apps be pre-installed on devices.

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According to the Competition Commission, Google's business strategy depends on having as many customers utilise its goods and services as possible as the information obtained from users of Search, Chrome and other Google services can be used to woo advertisers. As Android users are aware, regardless of the brand of the phone, Google apps such as Gmail, YouTube and such are always front and centre when setting up a new Android device.

The commission issued a cease and desist order against Google in order to prevent it from "indulging in anti-competitive practices." Additionally, it stated that manufacturers shouldn't be compelled to pre-install Google apps on products, Google is not allowed to offer financial or other incentives in exchange for exclusivity and the company couldn't restrict access to Play Services APIs.

As Engadget has pointed out, brands can use the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) if they want more flexibility on what can be pre-installed, but they lose access to the Play Store in the process. In the case of Huawei's HarmonyOS, it is built on top of AOSP but lacks Google Mobile Services due to a US trade ban. The lack of Google support saw the giant brand lose significant market share.

The commission stated that it disagreed with Google's claim that Apple would be more difficult to defeat if there were too many competitive restrictions. Google's goal is to increase consumers of services that generate revenue, such as Search, in contrast to Apple's strategy to vertically integrate all of its products into one ecosystem.

What's more, the commission says that third-party app stores must be allowed to distribute through the Play Store. As for users, it says that they must have the ability to choose their search engine on setup and to uninstall Google apps as they please.

  • The Competition Commission of India fined Google the equivalent of $161.9 million for anti-competitive Android policies.

  • The commission says the tech giant has a competitive edge due to manufacturers being required to install Google apps on Android devices.

  • The regulator wants third-party app stores to be allowed on Android, as well as users to be able to delete any Google app they do not want.

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