March 2, 2024

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Google plans legal challenge to India’s antitrust crackdown on Android

A source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters that Google is preparing a legal challenge to block the Indian antitrust watchdog’s decision to change the way it approaches its Android operating system. Google is worried that the decision will limit how it can promote the platform.

Since last week, two Indian antitrust rulings have resulted in $275 million fines against Alphabet Inc., one for charging in-app commissions and the other for abusing its market dominance in the Android operating system market.

Despite the reduced $162 million punishment associated with the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) Android decision, three sources familiar with the company’s thinking stated that Google is concerned because it wants more extensive corrective actions.

According to one of the individuals, Google was preparing a judicial challenge to stop the implementation of the antitrust rule because it was worried that the CCI’s ruling might heighten regulatory pressures in other jurisdictions.

Google has come under fire from people all around the world because it licences its Android operating system to manufacturers of devices but signs anti-competitive, monopolistic agreements. The American company argues that Android has increased everyone’s options and that these agreements help preserve the operating system’s open source.

For instance, the European Commission’s antitrust authority determined in 2018 that Google had abused its dominant position by requiring manufacturers to pre-install two of its apps—Google Play store and Chrome browser—along with Google Search—on Android smartphones.

According to Counterpoint Research, 75% of the 550 million smartphones in Europe run on Android, compared to 97% of the 600 million smartphones in India.

According to two of the people, Google is also worried that the CCI has instructed it to allow other app stores to be accessible within its Play Store and to not place any limitations in India on the practice of so-called “sideloading,” which is the downloading of apps without using an app store, according to two of the people.

However, these are anticipated to improve the chances of domestic competitors, such as Indus App Bazaar, which provides thousands of apps in both English and regional languages. According to Indus this week, the order “will lead to more choice and creativity for Indian developers.”