The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has asked handset companies the details of their agreements with Google or its group companies as the anti-trust regulator expands the scope of its investigation into the accusations of abuse of market power by the Android Operating System (OS).
Android as of March 2019 held 99% share of the Indian market.This move by the investigation wing of the CCI follows the European Union's decision to slap Google with a fine of $5 billion (4.3 billion euros) for misuse of Android's market dominance last year.
The European Commission found Google had abused its market dominance since 2011 with practices such as forcing manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and its Chrome browser, together with its Google Play app store on Android devices.
The CCI director general has reportedly sent letters to several smartphone makers comprising Samsung, Xiaomi, Karbonn and Lava and has sought details on the terms and conditions of their agreements with Google, the Economic Times reported.
The anti-trust regulator also wants to know if Google enforced any limitations on using the company's mobile apps and services beyond eight years (beginning April 2011). Furthermore, the CCI has sought ins and outs of "licence fee or royalty payments made to Google for using Android OS and Google mobile services on a yearly basis, from April 2011 till March 2019," the report said. The anti-trust regulator had sent the letter to the companies concerned last month.
The companies were granted two week's time to respond since the ongoing investigation is "time-bound". Although the firms have confirmed receipt of the notice, they refused to comment. The CCI started its investigation into Google's OS in mid-April after it received complaints that Android was blocking out rivals. Meanwhile, US-based search giant has said that it would work with CCI and its executives would likely be asked to appear before the regulator as part of the enquiry, the report added.
This is second such probe into Google's activities by the CCI. The watchdog had in May this year initiated a probe against Google for alleged anti-competitive practices with respect to its popular Android platform for mobile phones. The CCI in February 2018 had imposed a penalty of Rs 136 crore on Google for unfair business practices in the Indian market for online search.