© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: This image from July 13, 2021 shows the Google app on a smartphone. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration // File Photo
By Aditya Kalra
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Google abused the dominant position of its Android operating system in India and used its "huge financial power" to illegally harm competitors, the country's antitrust authorities found in a report of their two-year investigation by Reuters.
Alphabet's Google (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc. reduced "the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices that run on alternative versions of Android," said the June report by the Competition Commission of India's investigative department (CCI).
The US tech giant told Reuters in a statement it looks forward to working with the CCI to show how Android has led to more competition and innovation, not less.
Google did not receive the investigation report, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters.
The IHK did not respond to a request for comments on the report. Senior CCI members will review the report and give Google one more chance to defend themselves before issuing a final order that could include sanctions, said another person familiar with the case.
Google could appeal any order in Indian courts.
The results are the latest antitrust setback for Google in India, where it is facing multiple investigations in the payment app markets https://reut.rs/2B9ODC5 and smart TV https://reut.rs/30JTioa. The company has been studied in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. This week the South Korean antitrust agency fined Google https://www.reuters.com/technology/skorean-antitrust-agency-fines-google-177-mln-abusing-market-dominance-2021-09-14 with a fine of 180 million US dollar occupies adapted Android versions.
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Google submitted at least 24 responses during the investigation, defending itself and arguing that doing so does not harm competition, the report said.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ :), Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ 🙂 Google investigation, the report says.
According to Counterpoint Research, 98% of the 520 million smartphones in India are powered by Android.
When the CCI ordered the investigation https://www.reuters.com/article/us-google-india-antitrust-exclusive/exclusive-google-appears-to-have-leveraged-android-dominance-india-watchdog-idUSKCN1TT1Q2 in In 2019, Google was said to have apparently used its dominance to diminish the ability of device manufacturers to opt for alternative versions of its mobile operating system and force them to preinstall Google apps.
The 750-page report finds that compulsory pre-installation of apps "imposes unfair conditions on device manufacturers," violating Indian competition law, while the company used the position of its Play Store app store to protect its dominance.
The Play Store guidelines are "one-sided, ambiguous, vague, biased and arbitrary", while Android has been enjoying "its dominant position" in licensable operating systems for smartphones and tablets since 2011, according to the report.
The investigation was triggered in 2019 after two Indian junior antitrust research staff and a law student filed a complaint https://www.reuters.com/article/us-google-india-antitrust-idUSKCN1U40DY, Reuters reported.
India remains an important growth market for Google. It said last year it would spend $ 10 billion https://www.reuters.com/article/us-google-india-idINKCN24E0YL in the country over five to seven years through equity investments and bonds, its biggest commitment to a key growth market.