India antitrust probe finds Google abused Android dominance

The ruling comes just days after South Korean regulators fined Google £130 million for the same offence

The Competition Commission of India's (CCI) investigations unit has found that Google abused the dominance of its Android operating system in the country to illegally hurt competitors.

That's according to the findings of the antitrust authority’s two-year investigation into the tech giant’s conduct in India, where 98% of smartphones are powered by Android. 

Google was found to have used its "huge financial muscle" to reduce smartphone manufacturers’ ability to opt for alternate versions of its mobile operating system, as well having forced them to pre-install Google apps.

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This is in violation of India's competition law, the regulator ruled, stating that Google’s mandatory pre-installation of apps "amounts to imposition of unfair condition on the device manufacturers".

Play Store policies were "one-sided, ambiguous, vague, biased and arbitrary", while Android has been "enjoying its dominant position" in licensable operating systems for mobile devices since 2011, the report, seen by Reuters, reads.

However, the report is not yet final. It still has to be reviewed by senior CCI members, who will also provide Google with another chance to defend itself before issuing any potential penalties, according to the publication.

Google told Reuters that it's looking forward to cooperating with India’s antitrust authority to "demonstrate how Android has led to more competition and innovation, not less”. It will also have the opportunity to appeal any order in India's courts.

India is a key growth market for the tech giant, which last year announced plans to invest $10 billion (£7.3 billion) in the country over the next five to seven years – its biggest financial commitment to a single region.

Google has been blocking customised versions of its Android operating system not only in India. The ruling comes just days after South Korean regulators presented Google with a 207.4 billion won (£130 million) fine for the same offence.

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