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26 Oct, 2022 02:37

India slaps Google with antitrust order

The tech giant was ordered to allow app developers use third-party payment systems
India slaps Google with antitrust order

India’s antitrust regulator has slapped Google with a $113 million fine, accusing the firm of “unfair” business practices and hampering competition with overly restrictive rules for app developers and how they monetize their work.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) completed a lengthy investigation into Google on Tuesday, concluding the company’s requirement that developers use its Play Store for all apps and in-app purchases was an “unfair condition” and ran afoul of the country’s trade laws.

The commission said it fined Google for “abusing its dominant position with respect to its Play Store policies” and ordered the company to alter its requirements, arguing that in-app purchases are an “important means for app developers to monetize their creations.”

“If the app developers do not comply with Google’s policy… they are not permitted to list their apps on the Play Store and thus, would lose out the vast pool of potential customers in the form of Android users,” the agency continued, calling the policy “one sided,” “arbitrary,” and “devoid of any legitimate business interest.”

The latest fine comes just days after the CCI imposed an even larger $161 million penalty on Google over separate antitrust allegations. In that case, it said the firm could no longer require device manufacturers to pre-install its Google Mobile Suite software, also deeming the policy an “unfair condition.”

By user volume, India is Google’s largest market, with the company investing large amounts of money in the highly populous nation in a bid to boost international sales. Those efforts appear to have paid off, as Google’s Android smartphones now dominate some 97% of India’s market, while its online payment platform Google Pay has become the most popular in the country.

Despite its fast growth and relative success in India, Google has run into issues with national regulators on more than one occasion, with the CCI first launching a probe into the company in late 2020. Among other things, the investigation sought to determine whether the tech firm was “dominant” in several key markets – including smartphone operating systems, app stores, web search services and online video hosts – finding it was dominant in all of them.

In response to Tuesday’s multi-million dollar fine, Google told TechCrunch that its legal team is “evaluating the order” but had no further comment.