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This article was published on September 20, 2021

Google is in hot water over its Indian Android monopoly

Here we go again

Google is in hot water over its Indian Android monopoly
Ivan Mehta
Story by

Ivan Mehta

Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found Google guilty of anti-competitive behavior regarding Android‘s dominant position in the country’s mobile operating system market.

The watchdog began the investigation in April 2019, and found the Big G guilty of using its position to gain an unfair advantage in areas like search, music (YouTube), browser (Chrome), and app library (Play Store).

According to a report by the Times of India, CCI questioned phone makers, including Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo. It also asked questioned to ecommerce giant Amazon, payment providers Paytm and PhonePe, and Firefox browser’s owner Mozilla.

The investigation notes that Google holds a strong market share of 98% in the Indian market. Data from the analytics site Statista suggest that Android has 95% market share. It just goes to prove how little room other operating systems have in India.

To use some of Google’s core services — such as Search, YouTube, Chrome, and Play Store — on Android, phone makers pre-install a bundle called Google Mobile Services (GMS). To use these apps, and some Android features, companies need to sign an agreement with Google, making some of its services a default choice.

This could make it easy for the company to get to a dominant position in these areas. The investigation, which will be put against CCI for consideration, found Google guilty of unfairly using its power of distribution for Android to gain an advantage in the aforementioned verticles.

Google will have a chance to put their arguments forward, and if the CCI is not satisfied it could be asked to stop these practices and/or face a fine.

The tech giant has faced many such probes in the EU, Russia, and the US before. In some cases, it has been forced to pay fines as big as $5 billion (which is still less than 5% of its annual revenue) or give users choices to choose a default search engine during the installation process. 

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