India fines Google $162 million for abusing Android monopoly • The Register

The Indian Competition Commission has announced that it will fine Google £1,337.76 million (£13,377,600,000 or US$161.5 million) for breaching its dominant position in multiple markets in the Android mobile ecosystem abused and directed the company to open the Android ecosystem to competition.

The fine comes after the Commission analyzed local markets for mobile operating systems, Android-accessible app stores, web search services, non-OS mobile web browsers and online video hosting platforms.

The Commission found that Google was dominant in all five markets and sought to maintain this position with tools such as the Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA), which required Android licensees to include Google’s apps.

“MADA asserted that the most prominent search entry points – ie search app, widget and Chrome browser – are preinstalled on Android devices, giving Google’s search services a significant competitive advantage over its competitors,” the CIC noted. Google’s policies also gave the company a “significant competitive advantage over its competitors” for its own apps, such as YouTube, on Android devices.

The CIC has provided the following assessment of how Google’s actions have impacted the market:

Interestingly, the Commission (CIC) found that Google argued in its defense that Apple was a strong competitor. Still, Apple’s market share in India is tiny compared to its presence elsewhere — its products are priced out of reach of most Indian residents. Smartphones with Android hold over 84 percent of the market if you only look at the five best-selling mobile phone brands. Analysts believe that Apple recently crept past 5 percent market share — far behind the nearly 50 percent market share it holds in the US or 20 percent in Europe.

For these and many other reasons, the CIC ruled that Google is on the wrong side of Indian competition law. In addition to the above fine, it issued Google with a cease and desist order requiring it to change some of its business practices, for example to do the following:

  • Allow third-party app stores to be sold on Google Play;
  • allow sideloading of apps;
  • allow users to choose a default search engine other than Google when setting up a device;
  • cessation of payments to mobile phone manufacturers to ensure search exclusivity;
  • Developers developing apps running on Android forks are not denied access to Android APIs.

Some of the above measures have been considered but not implemented by other competition authorities around the world.

So while India’s fine represents a quarter of Google’s $256 billion in annual revenue and a pinprick, the tiny wound could become infected if other regulators decide to poke around.

The registry has reached out to Google for comment, but has not received a response at the time of publication. ® India fines Google $162 million for abusing Android monopoly • The Register

Rick Schindler

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