The investigation arm of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has accused American internet giant Google of adopting anti-competitive, unfair and restrictive trade practices in the mobile operating system and related markets.
The CCI had ordered a probe against Google that took two years during which the team of detectives found that the company was stifling competition and innovation in the market to maintain its dominance in search, music, browser, app library and other key services.
The report said the panel had accused the US-based search giant of creating dominance in the market by “imposing and forcing one-sided contracts on devices as well as app makers to ensure that its own products and apps maintain primacy in consumer usage (sic), and come pre-installed and as default options to get the highest user preference.”
“Google is found to be contravening the provisions 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 Act,” the probe report said.
The CCI investigation found that Google’s core business, search engines, had been foreclosing competition in Android, with the Google search bar widget being put on device home screens by default and the Google’s Chrome Web browser in its application folder.
The investigation states,
…competing general search services cannot counterbalance the competitive advantage that Google guarantees for itself through pre-installation, therefore functioning as an entry barrier for competitors.
According to the report, Google’s strong market position in India via the android operating system enabled the corporation to further consolidate the search industry as it accesses vast amounts of user data that sharpens its results.
The sleuths have placed the investigation report before the CCI for consideration. If found guilty, Google could face penalties or be asked to discontinue such practices.
Google has faced and is facing such investigations across the globe — in the US, European Union, Germany and Japan to name a few countries probing the way the company functions.
In June 2020, the antitrust watchdog had begun testing the veracity of accusations that Google was engaging in anticompetitive behaviour by imposing hurdles for businesses wishing to utilise or build customised versions of Android for smart TVs, such as Amazon Fire TV’s operating system.