Google now faces a fresh fine of Rs 936.44 crores from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) over anti-competitive practices. The big-tech firm has been accused of abusing its dominant position in the market with respect to its Google Play store policies. The CCI has also directed Google to modify its conduct. This follows a penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore on the tech giant for a similar reason, which was announced by the fair trade regulator on October 20.
As per a CCI press release, a cease-and-desist order has also been imposed on Google. During its assesment, the CCI found that Google was “dominant in the markets for licensable OS for smart mobile devices and market for app stores for Android smart mobile OS, in India.”
CCI noted that under Google’s Play store policies, app developers need to “exclusively and mandatorily” use the Google Play Billing System not just for receiving payments for apps distributed or sold through the Play store, but also for in-app purchases made by users. There’s no clause for developers to add a direct link for payments.
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As mentioned earlier, Google has been directed by the CCI to cease and desist from employing anti-competitive practices. “Google shall allow, and not restrict app developers from using any third-party billing/ payment processing services, either for in-app purchases or for purchasing apps,” the CCI said. “Google shall also not discriminate or otherwise take any adverse measures against such apps using third party billing/ payment processing services, in any manner.”
In April 2019, the regulator ordered a detailed probe into the matter following complaints by consumers of Android-based smartphones in the country.
For those unaware, Android is an open-source, mobile operating system installed by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) of smartphones and tablets.
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The allegations of unfair business practices pertained to two agreements — Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) and Anti Fragmentation Agreement (AFA) — which were entered into by the OEMs of Android OS with Google.
During the course of the inquiry, Google argued about the competitive constraints it faces from rival Apple.
In relation to understanding the extent of competition between Google’s Android ecosystem and Apple’s iOS ecosystem, the fair trade regulator noted the differences between the two business models which affect the underlying incentives of business decisions.