Band Aditya Kalra
NEW DELHI, September 18 (Reuters) – Google has abused the dominance of its Android operating system in India, using its “huge financial muscle” to illegally harm its competitors, the country’s antitrust authority found in a report on its two-year investigation viewed by Reuters.
Alphabet Inc GOOGL.O Google has reduced “the ability and incentive of device makers to develop and sell devices running on alternative versions of Android,” the June report of the Indian Commission of India’s investigation unit said. competition (CCI).
The US tech giant told Reuters in a statement it was eager to work with ICC to “show how Android has led to more competition and innovation, not less.”
Google has not received the investigation report, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters.
The ICC did not respond to a request for comment on the report. Senior ICC members will review the report and give Google another chance to defend itself, before issuing a final order, which could include penalties, said another person familiar with the matter.
Google could appeal any order to Indian courts.
Its findings are Google’s latest antitrust setback in India, where it faces multiple investigations in the payment application and smart tv markets. The company has been the subject of investigations in Europe, the United States and elsewhere. This week, the South Korean competition regulator a fine to google $ 180 million for blocking custom versions of Android.
‘WAVE, BIAS AND ARBITRARY’
Google submitted at least 24 responses during the investigation, defending itself and saying it did not hurt competition, the report said.
Microsoft Corp MSFT.O, Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O, Apple Inc AAPL.O, along with smartphone makers like Samsung and Xiaomi, were among 62 entities that answered CCI’s questions during its Google survey, according to the report.
Android powers 98% of India’s 520 million smartphones, according to Counterpoint Research.
When the ICC ordered the probe in 2019, he said that Google appeared to have leveraged its dominance to curtail the ability of device makers to switch to alternative versions of its mobile operating system and force them to preinstall Google apps.
The 750-page report concludes that the mandatory pre-installation of apps “amounts to imposing unfair terms on device makers” in violation of India’s competition law, as the company leveraged its store’s position of Play Store applications to protect its dominance.
Play Store policies were “one-sided, ambiguous, vague, biased and arbitrary,” while Android “has enjoyed its dominance” in licensed operating systems for smartphones and tablets since 2011, according to the report.
The investigation was triggered in 2019 after two young Indian antitrust research associates and a law student filed a complaint, Reuters reported.
India remains a key growth market for Google. He said last year that he spend 10 billion dollars in the country over five to seven years through equity investments and mergers, its largest engagement in a key growth market.
(Report by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi, edited by William Mallard)
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