The Competition Commission of India (CCI) submitted a 14-page order against Google LLC, Google India Pvt Ltd, and Google Ireland Limited.
The charges, as reviewed and reported by Reuters, are against Google for leveraging its market position and disrupting competition in the Indian market.
Reuters reported last month that CCI launched a probe against Google in April this year. The probe has implications against Google including (but not limited to) leveraging Android’s dominant market position.
This has consequently created ‘unfair conditions’ for developers in India. The details of this probe remained under a veil until now.
Is Google aiming to be a Monopoly?
This is the big question. Is Google trying to secure market share and finish any existing competition?
The case against Google is very similar to the case against it in Europe which led to the imposition of a fine of $5 Billion on the company. The case was that Google forces manufacturers to pre-install apps by the company and show them higher on the store lists against all others.
The pre-installation of Google proprietary apps has been in the news before as well. This creates a low impetus environment for developing software and apps on an alternate version to Android by Google. The CCI is going to investigate further into this. A report will be prepared against the company within 150 days.
If enough evidence is found, any amount of fine may be imposed on the company. It may also entail directives on how Google functions in India. Google’s share price is bound to be affected.
False Antitrust blame or Monopolistic ambition?
Google has faced antitrust issues for over 9 years now, since the first case against it in the EU. Google has always pushed its services within the famous play store as well as in search engine results that it generates.
Is the blame on Google or is the company really just the best out there because of its easily available software?
It is a certainty that Google’s Android has gained immense dominance in the Indian Market because of its easy availability. Google’s Android software is on 88% of all devices sold worldwide and 99% devices sold in India.
Google’s market share the period between 2009 and 2014 was more than 85% in web search and web surfing. The company’s aggressive policy and market dominance make it difficult for any competition to exist.
CCI has been in the process of charging Google for Antitrust since 2015.
Google’s market dominance has caused it trouble with other nations as well, the most recent being a case against Google in the EU. This cost Google a staggering $5 Billion. The entire investigation done by the EU was first against Google and later against Google and its parent company, Alphabet.
Google decided to appeal against the $5 Billion fine which was finally made in October 2018. This $5 Billion fine is the biggest imposed by the EU on any company ever.
The company also had to comply with the EUs directive about pre-installed applications on hardware. The EU’s directive led to the play store revamp in October 2018.
The revamp entailed a few differences. These included a charge of licensing fee for the play store without a conditional pre-installation of Google apps. Instead, Google is now offering these apps for free if the user wants them.
It also allowed the Google hardware partners to make devices in the EU that run competition software systems.
If CCI manages to make a case against Google, it could charge as much as 10% of Google’s revenue as fine. This amounts close to $6 Billion. CCI could also direct the company to remove conditional pre-installation of Google’s apps.
The decision may not be in for a long time but Antitrust in Google remains high because of its competition disruption activities. I believe this has been a long time coming but a result is not imminent.
By: Chitresh Sehgal, Senior Editor, Dkoding Media