Google has warned that the Android Ecosystem is on the brink of stalling in India and may not grow any further due to the recent antitrust order that has limited how Google markets the platform. The tech giant has made this claim in an appeal filed with the Supreme Court of India.
The Competition Commission of India, or the CCI, imposed a fine of $161 million or Rs 1,337.76 crore on Google’s parent company, Alphabet, in October last year for exploiting its dominant position in the Indian smartphone market and the app marketplace, thanks to Android. Google’s mobile operating system, Android, powers about 97 percent of all smartphones in India. The CCI had asked Google to change restrictions imposed on smartphone makers related to pre-installing apps.
The CCI in October ordered Google not to prohibit uninstalling of its apps by Android phone users in India. As of now, users can’t delete apps such as Google Maps or YouTube from their Android phones when they come pre-installed. But they are free to download and use apps for similar functions and set them as default to a limited extent.
Google has already stated that the CCI ruling will compel it to alter its long-standing business model. Still, its Indian Supreme Court petition quantifies the damage and describes the adjustments the firm will have to make.
According to Google, it will be necessary to amend its current agreements with more than 1,100 device makers and thousands of app developers and propose new license agreements.
“Tremendous advancement in growth of an ecosystem of device manufacturers, app developers, and users is on the verge of coming to a halt because of the remedial directions,” stated Google’s filing, which is not public.
“Google will be required to make far-reaching changes to the Android mobile platform, which has been in place for the last 14-15 years.”
Google licenses its Android operating system to smartphone manufacturers, but activists claim that it imposes anti-competitive limitations, including the requirement to pre-install Google’s apps. These agreements, according to Google, allow it to keep Android free.
The CCI also said Google’s licensing of its Play Store “shall not be linked with the requirement of pre-installing” Google search services, the Chrome browser, YouTube, or any other Google applications.
Google has been concerned about the Indian decision as the remedies ordered are seen as more sweeping than the European Commission’s landmark 2018 ruling for imposing unlawful restrictions on Android mobile device makers.
The tech giant has requested that the Supreme Court issued a stay order against the CCI’s remedial measures, which take effect on January 19.
Google has also alleged that the CCI’s unit copied significant portions of its ruling from a 2018 European ruling against Google similarly. Doing so has introduced issues that were never deliberated upon, and Google never had the chance to defend itself in India.