Indian regulator fines Google around $162 million for anti-competitive practices

The Indian regulator imposed a fine of $161.95 million on Alphabet Inc’s Google on Thursday for anti-competitive practices.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) accused Google of “abusing its dominant position in multiple markets in the Android mobile device ecosystem” to push mobile manufacturers to exclusively carry its search services.

Accordingly, Google entered into multiple agreements to govern its rights and obligations, such as Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA).

“MADA assured that the most prominent search entry points i.e., search app, widget and Chrome browser are pre-installed on Android devices, which accorded significant competitive edge to Google’s search services over its competitors,” the CCI said in a statement.

The Indian regulator said that the compulsory pre-installation of the entire Google Mobile Suite (GMS) under MADA, with no option to un-install, imposes an unfair condition on the device manufacturers and hence violates the competition law.

“These obligations are also found to be in the nature of supplementary obligations imposed by Google on OEMs and thus, in contravention of Section 4(2)(d) of the Act,” the statement read.

“Further, Google also secured a significant competitive edge over its competitors, in relation to its another revenue-earning app i.e. YouTube in Android devices. The competitors of these services could never avail the same level of market access which Google secured and embedded for itself through MADA…create significant entry barriers for competitors of Google to enter or operate in the markets concerned,” the statement read.

Section 4 of the Competition Act talks about the abuse of dominant position.

The CCI ordered a probe in April 2019 following complaints by consumers of Android-based smartphones in the country.

According to Counterpoint Research, Google’s Android operating system runs on 97 per cent of India’s 600 million smartphones.


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