Google Flexed Its ‘Financial Muscle’ in India, Antitrust Report Says

According to an India-based probe, Google is guilty of abusing its dominant position to hurt competitors.

Google reportedly cut down on “the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operating on alternative versions of Android,” says the June report by the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) investigations unit, per Reuters.

The findings are yet another hit against Google in India in the antitrust realm. The tech giant is currently facing numerous probes in the payments app and smart television markets, and Google has been looked into in Europe, the U.S. and other places.

Google said in a statement to Reuters that it wants to “demonstrate how Android has led to more competition and innovation, not less,” saying it would work with authorities on the case.

Google reportedly put in at least 24 responses during the probe. The company defended itself by saying it wasn’t hurting competition. Android reportedly powers around 98 percent of the 520 million smartphones in India, per Reuters.

The report alleges that Google’s mandatory pre-installation of apps amounts to an “unfair” imposition on device manufacturers, which violates India’s competition law. The report also says Google used its Play Store app’s position to protect its own dominance, with Play Store policies being “one-sided, ambiguous, vague, biased and arbitrary.” The report says Android has enjoyed a dominant position since around 2011.

The probe came about in 2019, when two Indian junior antitrust research associates and a law student filed a complaint.

Antitrust cases have been happening more against big tech companies. Recently there has also been a complaint against Apple by a nonprofit group, Together We Fight Society, which says Apple’s app store policies have negative effects on things like competition and the cost of app creation, as Apple takes 30 percent commission and its store is so ubiquitous.

Read more: Indian Nonprofit Cites Apple Fees in Antitrust Complaint