Google is losing an attempt to block an Indian antitrust decision on Android in a major setback

  • India’s Supreme Court refuses to block Android antitrust ruling
  • Google may need to revise its Android business model in India
  • The court extends the date of execution of the Indian order by a week
  • Google said demand in India could stunt Android’s growth

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Google on Thursday lost its battle in India’s Supreme Court to block an antitrust order, in a major setback that will force the US tech giant to fundamentally change the business model of its popular Android operating system. growth market.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) ruled in October that Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O)took advantage of its dominant position in Android and asked it to be removed restrictions imposed on device makers, including with respect to pre-installation of applications. Google was also fined $161 million.

Google has challenged the order in the Supreme Court, saying it would harm consumers and its business. He warned that the growth of the Android ecosystem could be disrupted and he would have to change arrangements with more than 1,100 device manufacturers and thousands of app developers. Google also said “no other jurisdiction has requested such far-reaching changes.”

The three-judge panel of the Supreme Court, which included the chief justice of India’s Supreme Court, delayed implementation of the Competition Commission of India’s directive on January 19 by one week, but refrained from blocking it.

“We are not inclined to interfere,” said Chief Justice D. Y. Chandrachod.

During the hearing, Chandrachod told Google, “Look at the kind of power you wield in terms of dominance.”

About 97% of the 600 million smartphones in India run Android, Counterpoint Research estimates. an Apple (AAPL.O) It has only 3% stake.

India’s Supreme Court has asked a lower court, which is already hearing the matter, to rule on Google’s appeal by March 31.

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

Google licenses its Android platform to smartphone makers, but critics say it imposes restrictions such as mandatory pre-installation of its own apps that are considered anti-competitive. The company argues that such agreements help keep Android free.

Faisal Kawusa, founder of Indian research firm Techarc, said the Supreme Court ruling means Google may have to look at other business models in India, such as charging startups an upfront fee for providing access to the Android platform and the Play Store.

“At the end of the day, Google is for-profit and has to look at actions that make it sustainable and leverage its innovation,” he said.

Android has been the subject of various investigations by regulators around the world. South Korea has fined Google for blocking customized versions of it to restrict competition, while the US Department of Justice has accused Google of enforcing anticompetitive distribution agreements for Android.

In India, CCI has ordered Google not to tie its Play Store license to “pre-installation requirements” for Google search services, the Chrome browser, YouTube, or any other Google apps.

It also ordered Google to allow users of Android phones in India to uninstall its apps. Currently, apps such as Google Maps and YouTube cannot be deleted from Android phones when they are pre-installed.

was google worried On India’s decision, the steps are seen as more sweeping than those imposed in the European Commission’s 2018 decision, when Google was fined for imposing what the commission called illegal restrictions on makers of Android mobile devices. Google has challenged the record $4.3 billion fine in this case.

In Europe, Google has made changes including allowing Android device users to choose their default search engine from a list of providers.

Google also argued in its legal filings, seen by Reuters, that CCI’s investigative unit “Copy paste widely From a decision of the European Commission, the publication of evidence from Europe that has not been examined in India.”

Venkataraman, a government lawyer representing the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the Supreme Court: “We did not cut, copy and paste.”

Additional reporting by Aditya Kalra, Urban Chaturvedi and Munsif Vengatel; Additional reporting by Diane Bartz and Subanta Mukherjee, Editing by Jason Neely, Finn Shahristani and Mark Potter

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