Google Inc. 100,83 -0,45 -0,44% has been fined yet again for ‘anti-competitive practices’ with its Android mobile OS. This time around it is India which is their largest market by user base. The commission has slapped Google with a small $162 million fine. I say small as Google’s MONTHLY revenue works out to be around $21.5 Billion. The Competition Commission of India found the following in their investigations:
- Google has perpetuated its dominant position in the online search market resulting in denial of market access for competing search apps in contravention of Section 4(2)(c) of the Act.
- Google has leveraged its dominant position in the app store market for Android OS to protect its position in online general search in contravention of Section 4(2)(e) of the Act.
- Google has leveraged its dominant position in the app store market for Android OS to enter as well as protect its position in non-OS specific web browser market through Google Chrome App and thereby contravened the provisions of Section 4(2)(e) of the Act.
- Google has leveraged its dominant position in the app store market for Android OS to enter as well as protect its position in OVHPs market through YouTube and thereby contravened provisions of Section 4(2)(e) of the Act.
- Google, by making pre-installation of Google’s proprietary apps (particularly Google Play Store) conditional upon signing of AFA/ ACC for all Android devices manufactured/ distributed/ marketed by device manufacturers, has reduced the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operating on alternative versions of Android i.e., Android forks and thereby limited technical or scientific development to the prejudice of the consumers, in violation of the provisions of Section 4(2)(b)(ii) of the Act.
This fine is almost double of the ‘settlement’ Google had to pay to the State of Arizona for alleged Illegal Android Tracking. Again, this sends the message that violating user’s privacy is a minor offense compared to being anti-competitive. While Apple has recently been in the news (though indirectly) for user privacy issues this was related to Meta bypassing Apple’s beefy security to spy on millions.
I have issues with the finding “Google has leveraged its dominant position in the app store market for Android OS to enter as well as protect its position in non-OS specific web browser market through Google Chrome App”. In regards to the app store market (Google Play), most Android users prefer the convivence of having a centralize place they can find and install Apps which they know will function on their device and are (mostly) safe. A lack of these safe guards is why there has been such a huge problem with Malware on Windows PCs. Microsoft Corporation 255,02 +0,33 +0,13% has tried to get control of this with the introduction of S Mode with Windows 10 and 11. With S Mode enabled users can only install apps through The Microsoft Store. Yet, we don’t see regulators crying foul that forcing Windows users with S Mode enabled to install apps from The Microsoft Store on their PC’s for their own safety is anti-competitive.
Perhaps this is because S Mode can be disabled. However, Android users can choose to install an App from other sources (though not recommended) or choose to use a mobile browser other than Chrome. Apple Inc. 147,81 -0,50 -0,34% is just as guilty (if not more so) of most of those above claims with their “walled garden” approach with their iPhone and iOS. However, since Apple only has 3.5% of the market share of the mobile market in India their practices are overlooked.