NEW DELHI. The Investigation Unit of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) said the US search and tech giant was guilty of anti-competitive, unfair and restrictive mobile phone trading practices, possibly a devastating lead against Google for abuse of dominance. operating system and related markets.
In a two-year investigation commissioned by CCI in April 2019, the panel interrogated Google – the leader of the dominant and ubiquitous Android operating system (OS), which accounts for nearly 98% of the smartphone market – as well as several international and Indian companies such as Apple. , Microsoft, Amazon, Paytm, PhonePe, Mozilla, Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and Karbonn.
The investigation found Google India guilty of suppressing competition and innovation to the detriment of the market and consumers in order to maintain its control and dominance in search, music (via YouTube), browser (Chrome), application library (Play Store) and other key services. The investigation report, which is almost 750 pages long, was reviewed exclusively by TOI.
The investigation accuses Google of imposing and enforcing unilateral contracts on devices, as well as on app makers, to ensure that its own products and applications continue to dominate consumer use and are pre-installed and default options to maximize user preferences.
“Google has been found to be in violation of Section 4 (2) (a) (i); Section 4 (2) (b); Section 4 (2) (c); Section 4 (2) (d) and Section 4 (2 ) (e) of the Competition Law, “summed up the audit report, finding the company guilty on a number of charges, including abuse of dominance, denying market access to competitors, and restricting and restricting technical or scientific developments related to goods or services. to the detriment of consumers.
The report has been submitted to the CCI for review, and if found guilty, Google could face penalties or a proposal to stop actions that are deemed to distort competition and are anti-consumer due to market dominance.
Google has faced and is facing antitrust investigations in various parts of the world – from the United States to the European Union, Germany and Japan.
An Indian investigation has explored many issues since CCI first received a complaint alleging that Google India was obstructing the development and market access of competing mobile apps or services by requiring smartphone and tablet manufacturers through certain exclusive deals to pre-install their proprietary apps and / or services. Based on its exclusive terms, the company has offered the coveted Google Mobile Services (GMS) package with popular products as a package including the Google Play Store, search app, YouTube and Chrome browser.
A device manufacturer wishing to go beyond “bare Android” and use any of Google’s core apps must sign the Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) and further the Anti Fragmentation Agreement (AFA) / Android Compatibility Commitment (ACC). which requires preloading Google apps and placing them in a predefined manner on devices.
In addition, lucrative revenue-sharing agreements are being offered to device makers and other partners, including Apple’s top search engine player.
for their Safari browser – so they prioritize a Google-only ecosystem of apps and services.
In the search engine category, which is the tech giant’s main focus, a CCI study found that Google “eliminates competition” on the Android operating system because, through MADA, the search widget is placed on the home screen of devices by default and in the Chrome browser. inserted into google apps folder. “Competition with general search providers cannot offset the competitive advantage that Google provides itself through preinstallation and thus acting as a barrier to entry for competitors,” the investigation noted.
Since Google controls nearly the entire smart mobile device market in India via Android, it further helps it dominate the search market as it gains access to a wealth of user data, making its results more accurate, the report said.