A branch of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has concluded its two-year investigation against Google’s practices in the country. The findings accessed by the Times of India (via) reveal that the company brought anti-competitive, restrictive, and unfair norms to the country with its Android OS and other elements pertaining to the mobile platform.
The report also held Google guilty of suppressing its competitors in the region by prioritizing its services and apps. The issue pertains to forcing OEMs to include Google’s apps and services including Search, Chrome, Play Store, YouTube, and others.
The report concludes that Google acted as an “entry barrier for competitors”
The investigations also found that Google made OEMs sign one-sided contracts with phone manufacturers and app developers. The CCI report adds that this denied the market fair access to products from competitors.
A package known as the GMS core is included with every Android device authorized by Google. Manufacturers are required to include GMS in order to access the company’s services.
Google also offers incentives to manufacturers when they include apps like (Google Dialer and Messages) with their new phones. This makes it clear that Google wants to control almost every aspect of the Android experience. The report further mentions the persistent Google Search bar on Android home screens as a way to maintain the company’s dominance.
The CCI will now decide the next course of action. Google will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations and present its defense before the agency reaches a conclusion. If found guilty, Google could face hefty fines or a warning to cease such practices.
Google has a stronghold on the Indian market thanks to its regional device partners. Android phones make up 95% of the country’s market share. However, the authorities are seemingly more concerned about the apps and services that these phones run.
“Competing general search services cannot offset the competitive advantage that Google ensures for itself through pre-installation and thus, acting as an entry barrier for competitors,” the investigators held. A branch of the CCI began the investigation into Google’s practices in April 2019.
Regulators from the European Union recently cited opposition from the OEMs to Google’s aggressive agreements. The EU regulators are currently investigating whether Google broke EU laws by forcing manufacturers to preinstall Google Assistant.