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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Google 'accuses' Competition Commission of India of protecting rival Amazon in anti-trust case

Google says the watchdog unfairly relied on Amazon’s submissions in passing adverse verdict

Our Special Correspondent Mumbai Published 07.07.23, 04:38 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File photo

Google has reportedly accused the Competition Commission of India (CCI) of protecting rival Amazon in an anti-trust case where the CCI fined the Alphabet-owned company Rs 1,338 crore for alleged anti-competitive practices about Android mobile devices.

Amazon had complained about its struggles to develop a modified version of Google’s Android system because of the search engine giant’s restrictions.

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Google has now filed an appeal in the Supreme Court seeking to quash the CCI order of October 20, 2022, that slapped the hefty fine on Google.

The CCI had asked Google to undertake around 10 measures — one of which said that smart device makers should not be forced to pre-install a bouquet of applications.

According to a Reuters report, Google has now alleged that the CCI has ordered changes to its business to “only protect’’ Amazon which had complained about its struggles to develop a modified Android system version due to Google’s restrictions.

According to Google’s filing in the top court on June 26, Amazon reportedly told the CCI during the investigation that Google’s restrictions hindered the development of its Android fork called Fire OS (which runs on Fire TV and tablets).

Google said the watchdog unfairly relied on Amazon’s submissions in passing the adverse verdict.

In its 1004-page filing, Google said Fire OS failed commercially because of poor user experience; in India, the Fire Phone was not even launched, it said.

Among the other modifications, the CCI said Google should be restrained from striking agreements that ensure exclusivity for its search services on smart devices.

It should not restrict smartphone users from removing its pre-installed apps such as Google Maps, Gmail and Youtube, which could not be deleted from Android phones.

The watchdog further said that Google shall allow the users, during the initial device setup, to choose their default search engine for all search entry points.

Users should have the flexibility to easily set as well as easily change the default settings on their devices, in the minimum steps possible.

Subsequently, on October 25, 2022, the CCI in a separate order imposed a penalty of Rs 936.44 crore on Google for abusing its dominant position concerning its Play Store policies.

Regulator slammed for imposing hefty fine

CCI has imposed multiple restrictions on Google:

■ Google should not be allowed to licence its Play Store with the condition that device manufacturers must pre-install Google apps like YouTube, Gmail or the Chrome browser

■ It should not force device makers to pre-install a bouquet of apps or decide their placement. Google should be restrained from striking agreements that ensure exclusivity for its search services on smart devices

■ Google should not restrict smartphone users from removing its pre-installed apps such as Google Maps, Gmail and Youtube, which currently cannot be deleted from Android phones.

■ Google should let users pick a search engine of choice for all relevant services when setting up a phone for the first time.

■ Google should not impose any curbs in India on the practice of “sideloading”, or downloading apps without using its app store.

■ Competitors and app developers should not be denied access to the programming interface of Google Play services

■ Google should not offer incentives or obligate manufacturers for not selling smart devices based on Android variants.

■ CCI asked Google not to restrict makers of Android smartphones from developing other devices such as tablets or TVs based on modified versions of Android.

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