Google Faces ₹1337 Cr. Fine In India Over Anti-Competitive Behavior: Is Play Store In Danger?

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Google Faces ₹1337 Cr. Fine In India Over Anti-Competitive Behavior

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has slapped a fine of ₹1337.76 crores on Google for anti-competitive practices related to the Android ecosystem. Indian government agencies had been investigating Google for three and a half years. They have concluded the company has monopolistic control over Android devices, their manufacturers, and consumers. Google would surely appeal, but the legal actions may force the company to take certain remedial actions. But will it put the Play Store in danger?

 

Why Is Google Being Fined In India?

Google's Android ecosystem is by far the biggest in India as far as smartphones are concerned. A huge number of Indians purchase Android devices which come preinstalled with Google's platforms and services.

The CCI is claiming that Google mandating smartphone companies pre-install and prominently feature the company's ecosystem of apps "amounts to imposition of an unfair condition on the device manufacturers,". The commission has concluded that this results in a violation of the law and has slapped a fine of ₹1337.76 crores ($161.9 million) on Google.

At the heart of the issue lies YouTube, Chrome, and several other Google products and services that come preinstalled with every Android device. It may appear Google has kept its own dominant status via such services which users see and hence end up using, before any other competing products.

Is The Google Play Store In Danger?

The CCI has ordered Google that OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) must not be forced to install Google's range of apps as a necessary requirement for accessing the Play Services APIs and other incentives.

 

For the past three years, the CCI was investigating if Google had achieved market domination and created a monopoly in India. The investigation determined that Google has become a monopoly in India, in five key areas. These include licensable OS for smartphones, app stores, web search services, non-OS specific mobile web browsers, and online video hosting platforms.

This strongly suggests India is upset with Google for keeping itself at the top, presumably by ensuring its own services are always visible and easily reachable. Indian consumers are essentially denied the opportunity to see and use, products, and services from Google's competitors.

While this could appear detrimental to Google and its Android Play Store, the company does have a comparatively open and lenient app store ecosystem. Google allows third-party app stores, and the Android OS even allows sideloading. Both these aspects are absent in Apple's iOS ecosystem.

Google has reportedly indicated it hasn't yet received the order. However, it is quite possible the company will appeal. Still, as India is a huge market for Google, the company may have to take some remedial actions. Incidentally, this is the second time Google has been slapped with a fine by the CCI.

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