The Competition Commission of India (CCI), on Tuesday, fined Rs 936.44 crore on Alphabet Inc's Google for abusing its dominant position concerning its Android Play Store policies. The Commission also issued a cease-and-desist order and directed Google to modify its conduct within a defined timeline.
The CCI, in a statement, said it has imposed a penalty of Rs 936.44 crore on Google for abusing its dominant position. Interestingly, this is the second time in less than a week that India’s competition regulator imposed a penalty on Google.
On October 20, the competition regulator imposed a penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore on the US-based tech giant for using its dominant position in multiple markets to promote its payments app and in-app payment system. The watchdog also ordered the internet major to cease and desist from various unfair business practices.
Google's Play Store constitutes the main distribution channel for app developers in the Android mobile ecosystem. The app store allows its owners to capitalise on the apps brought to market.
The regulator, in its statement, revealed that making access to the Play Store for app developers dependent on mandatory usage of Google Play's Billing System (GPBS) for paid apps and in-app purchases constitutes an imposition of an unfair condition on app developers.
CCI, apart from the penalty, also said that Google shouldn’t restrict app developers from using any third-party billing/ payment processing services for purchasing apps.
Google has been given a time of 30 days to provide the requisite financial details and supporting documents, the release said. CCI has been probing Google in other cases as well, including those about alleged anti-competitive practices by the internet major with respect to news content and smart TV.
CCI, similar to the observations made in previous its ruling against Google in the Android matter, said the penalty amount is provisional as there were glaring inconsistencies and wide disclaimers in presenting various revenue data points by Google.
The penalty amount translates to 7 per cent of the company's average relevant turnover. Google's Android operating system powers 97 per cent of India's 600 million smartphones, according to Counterpoint Research. Meanwhile, the watchdog said that recently Google has allowed rival UPI apps to be integrated with the intent flow.
Moreover, Google has also faced criticism globally, including in South Korea, for mandating software developers using its app store to use a proprietary in-app payment system that charges commissions of up to 30 per cent on purchases made within an app. Of late, Google has begun to allow alternative payment systems in more countries.
According to the CCI's latest release, Google has been asked to implement various measures, including allowing and not restricting app developers from using any third-party billing/ payment processing services, either for in-app purchases or for purchasing apps.
"Google shall also not discriminate or otherwise take any adverse measures against such apps using third-party billing/ payment processing services, in any manner," the release said.
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