Google’s Antitrust Woes Reportedly Extend to India

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has reportedly determined that Google used Android’s dominance over the smartphone market to prevent competitors from using their own versions of the operating system in their devices.

CCI found that Google limited “the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operating on alternative versions of Android,” according to Reuters, which obtained a copy of the as-yet unpublished report.

Android powers 98% of India’s smartphones, Reuters said, but that isn’t what led CCI to conclude that Google violated antitrust laws. The problem is that Google allegedly required manufacturers to pre-install its apps on their devices.

Google offers the core Android experience via the Android Open Source Project, which manufacturers are free to modify, but they have to enter a licensing agreement with Google if they want to offer access to the Google Play marketplace.

The Google Play Store is by far the most popular app distribution platform on Android; many people expect to be able to access the marketplace when they buy an Android-branded phone. But it’s licensed as part of the Google Mobile Services package that includes Google Search, YouTube, Google Maps, and other services that are operated by Google.

CCI wouldn’t be the first regulator to complain about this arrangement. South Korea recently issued a $176.64 million fine to Google over this problem, and state prosecutors in the U.S. have accused the company of violating antitrust laws as well.

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UPDATE 2:05 p.m. ET:

Google said in a statement that “Android has enabled millions of Indians to connect to the internet by making mobile devices more affordable. We look forward to working with the Competition Commission of India to demonstrate how Android has led to more competition and innovation, not less.” It also said that it hasn’t received the report mentioned by Reuters.

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