Exclusive: India watchdog probes allegations that Google has abused Android – sources

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s antitrust commission is looking into allegations that Alphabet Inc unit Google is abusing its popular Android mobile operating system to block the competition, four sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Android based mobile phones on display during its launch in New Delhi on September 15, 2014. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

The Competition Commission of India (CSI) has over the past six months been reviewing a case that is similar to Google in Europe that have led to a fine of 4.34 billion euros ($5 billion) of the antitrust regulators in the last year, three of the sources said. Google has contested the order.

The European Commission found that Google had abused its dominant position on the market since 2011, with practices such as forcing manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google Chrome browser along with the Google Play app store on Android devices.

“It is up to the rules of the EU, but in a first phase,” said one of the sources, who is aware of the CCI research.

Google declined to comment. The CCI did not respond to Reuters’ queries.

The watchdog of the investigation into the allegations against Google over the Android platform has not been previously reported.

Google executives have in recent months met antitrust-Indian officials at least once to discuss the complaint, which was filed by a group of individuals, one of the sources said.

The Indian watchdog could ask his research into the unit to further investigate the allegations against Google, or throw out the complaint if the lack of merit. The watchdog of the studies in the past have taken years to complete.

Android, used by device makers for free, has about 85 percent of the world of smartphones. In India, approximately 98 percent of the smartphones sold in 2018 will use the platform, Counterpoint Research estimates.

In October, Google said that it would cost smartphone makers a fee for the use of the popular Google Play app store and also to let you use rival versions of Android to meet the EU to be.

The change, however, in which only the European Economic Area, which consists of the 28 EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

“The CCI will have a difficult time not initiating a formal investigation into Google, the EU is the case, unless they can show that the problem is solved (by remedies),” one of the sources said.

The Indian complaint presents the latest regulatory headache for the Mountain View, California-based company in a major growth market.

Last year, the Indian antitrust watchdog imposed a fine of eur 1.36 billion rupees ($19 million) on Google for “search bias” and abuse of its dominant position. Also turned out Google had the commercial flight of a search function in a prominent position on the search results page.

Google has appealed that order, saying that the ruling would lead to “irreparable” damage and reputational loss, Reuters reported.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra and) Aditi Shah in New Delhi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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