Google vows to cooperate with India antitrust watchdog after Android ruling

Google vows to cooperate with India antitrust watchdog after Android ruling

NEW DELHI, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Google (GOOGL.O) said on Friday it would cooperate with India’s competition authority after the Supreme Court upheld strict antitrust guidelines requiring the U.S. company to change how it markets its popular Android platform in a key growth market.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) ruled in October that Google, owned by Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), had exploited its dominant position in Android and asked it to remove restrictions on device manufacturers, including including those related to the pre-installation of applications and ensuring the exclusivity of its research. It also fined Google $161 million.

Google is concerned about India’s decision, as the measures are seen as more sweeping than those imposed in the European Commission’s landmark 2018 ruling against Android. About 97% of the 600 million smartphones in India run Android, while in Europe the system accounts for 75% of the 550 million smartphones, according to estimates from Counterpoint Research.

Google lost a challenge in India’s Supreme Court on Thursday to block the ICC guidelines, getting seven days to comply, a ruling that will force the company to change the way it makes deals with device makers. devices that use its free and open source Android. Platform.

“We remain committed to our users and partners and will cooperate with the ICC on the way forward,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters, without explaining what action it might take.

“We are reviewing the details of yesterday’s decision which is limited to interim measures and did not rule on the merits of our appeal,” he added.

India’s top court also said a lower court – where Google first challenged Android’s guidelines – can continue to hear the company’s appeal and must rule by March 31. Google said Friday it would pursue the appeal “in parallel.”

Hoping to block the application of the ICC directives, Google had seized the Supreme Court warning that the growth of its Android ecosystem will stall. It said it would be forced to change agreements with more than 1,100 device makers and thousands of app developers if the guidelines go into effect.

Google’s Indian Supreme Court filing also said “no other jurisdiction has ever demanded such sweeping changes.”

The Indian guidelines “will prioritize the extent to which Google is obligated to open up the Android platform to third-party local app stores, apps and services,” said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Research.

“It will be difficult,” he said. “We’re talking about almost 600 million Android users here – that’s going to be a major shake-up, creating confusion and chaos.”

In Europe, Google has been fined for putting in place what the Commission called illegal restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile devices. Google is still contesting the record $4.3 billion fine in the case.

There, Google made changes including allowing Android device users to choose their default search engine and said device makers will be able to license the Google mobile app suite separately from the search app. Google or Chrome browser.

Google told the Supreme Court that if smartphone makers select which apps to preload, as ordered by the TCC, it “would prevent Google from securing the pre-installation of its revenue-generating apps and, therefore, (would require ) Google to charge licensing fees.

This, the company warned, could drive up the cost of mobile handsets as input costs rise for manufacturers.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Editing by Janane Venkatraman, William Mallard and Jacqueline Wong

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