Major setback for Google in India, Android plea rejected

Google Android India court
Image by sergei_elagin | Bigstockphoto

The Supreme Court of India last week rejected a plea from Google to block an antitrust order, instead giving the Android maker just one additional week to comply with the Competition Commission of India’s directions.

Google to pursue legal challenge

Google said that it will continue to pursue its legal challenge to the Android-related ruling in India but will cooperate with the Competition Commission of India (CCI), the country’s competition authority, after the top court upheld the latter’s order forcing the US-based internet major to change how it markets its popular Android platform.

“We remain committed to our users and partners and will cooperate with the CCI on the way forward. We are reviewing the details of the decision, which is limited to interim relief and did not decide the merits of our appeal,” Google said.

“Android has greatly benefited Indian users, developers and OEMs and played a key role in India’s digital transformation. We remain committed to our users and partners and will cooperate with the CCI on the way forward, in parallel with our appeal,” it added in the statement.

Dominant position of Android

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) had in October ruled that Google exploited its dominant position in Android. It issued a directive to Google to remove restrictions on device makers, including those related to the pre-installation of apps and ensuring exclusivity of its search.

The antitrust regulator also fined Google $161 million.

The Supreme Court has directed NCLAT to make its decision. Google had previously failed to secure any relief from the country’s appellate tribunal, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

The directive will force Google into making a series of changes that could topple how it conducts business in the key overseas market unless NCLAT gives its final verdict in Google’s favour.

The CCI has ordered Google not to require licensing of its Play Store to be linked with mandating the installation of several Google apps. It also directed Google to allow the removal of all its apps from phones and give smartphone users the ability to change their search engine provider.

Growth of Android ecosystem to be disrupted

Google last week said that the growth of the Android ecosystem will be disrupted, and it will need to modify its existing contracts and introduce new license agreements with more than 1,100 device manufacturers and thousands of app developers.

The internet major said that such changes will lead to “lasting and irreparable harm” to Google, device manufacturers, Indian consumers, app developers, and the wider Indian economy. It said that the remedial directions issued by the CCI operate entirely on speculation and “pay no heed to the harm” it could cause to the stakeholders in the Android ecosystem.

Google has invested more than $10 billion into India over the past decade. It has amassed over half a billion monthly active users in the country. Google’s Android operating system has a 97% market share of smartphones in India.

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