The CCI has found Google guilty in deliberately forcing one-sided contracts on devices and app makers in order to maintain primacy of own apps and products in consumer usage.
Google has thus been accused by the investigation panel of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for using anti-competitive, unfair and restrictive trade practices in the mobile operating system and related markets.
The CCI had ordered a probe In April 2019 on the popular search engine Google whos Android OS dominates over 98% of the Indian smartphone market. The panel involved in two-year long investigation interrogated Google and other firms such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo Paytm, PhonePe, Mozilla, Samsung and Karbonn.
According to the investigation report, the probe revealed that Google India order to maintain its supremacy in search, music (through YouTube), browser (Chrome), app library (Play Store) and other key services was restraining competitors by enforcing one-sided contracts on their devices and app makers so that its own apps and products maintain dominance in consumer usage, restricting technical or scientific development relating to goods or services thereby denying market access to competitors.
The report notified that “Google is found to be contravening the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i); Section 4(2)(b); Section 4(2)(c); Section 4(2)(d) and Section 4(2)(e) of the Competition Act.”
The CCI has been handed with a 750 page report for consideration. Google on being found accountable would be required to pay penalties and even be asked to stop the practices that intend to restrict or force competitors and are anti-consumer basis market dominance.
The probe thoroughly investigated into multiple issues after CCI received complaints which stated that Google India had restricted market access of competitor mobile apps and services by making it mandatory for manufacturers of devices to sign certain exclusive deals to pre-install Google’s proprietary apps or services.
Google as per its exclusive terms offered its Google Mobile Services (GMS) suite which includes Google Play store, YouTube and Chrome as a whole. Any Device makers who want to upgrade from the “bare Android version” are asked to sign a Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) and further an Anti-Fragmentation Agreement (AFA)/Android Compatibility Commitment (ACC). A pre-installation of Google apps and placement of these on the devices was thus required.
The report further mentioned that device manufacturers and other partners are offered attractive revenue-sharing agreements for giving primacy to a Google-only ecosystem of services and applications.