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After NCLAT's Android antitrust ruling, Google says it is evaluating legal options

NCLAT had set aside four of 10 remedial measures ordered by CCI, even as it upheld the competition watchdog's penalty of Rs 1,338 crore

March 29, 2023 / 05:27 PM IST
Google's Android operating system powers 97-98 percent of India's 600-million strong smartphone market.

Google's Android operating system powers 97-98 percent of India's 600-million strong smartphone market.

Google said on March 29 that it is currently evaluating its legal options after the National Company Law Appellate (NCLAT) partially upheld Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) Android dominance order against the tech giant.

"We are grateful for the opportunity given by the NCLAT to make our case. We are reviewing the order and evaluating our legal options" a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

On March 29, the tribunal had upheld the penalty of Rs 1,338 crore imposed by CCI on the Android maker for abusing its dominant position in multiple markets in the Android Mobile device ecosystem. However, it had set aside four of the 10 remedial measures ordered by the antitrust watchdog.

Among the reliefs, Google will now not need to allow hosting of third party app stores on Play Store or restrict removing of Google's pre-installed apps such as Google Maps, Gmail, and YouTube by users.

The tech giant can also continue placing curbs on distributing apps through sideloading amd need not share its proprietary Play Services APIs (Application Program Interface) with rivals, original equipment makers (OEMs), and developers.

Google moved the NCLAT in January but failed to get an immediate relief. The company then approached the Supreme Court against the tribunal's decision. The apex court, in turn, refused to intervene in the case and asked NCLAT to look into it.

Google has now been given 30 days to pay the penalty and implement the order. The company can also challenge the order in the Supreme Court.

India is the largest market for Google in terms of users. Google's Android operating system powers 97-98 percent of the country's 600-million strong smartphone market. India is also among the biggest markets for Google Play in terms of app downloads and users.

Google had on January 26 announced sweeping changes it will be making to its Android and Play business to comply with CCI's directives. A month later, the company had stated that it will allow app developers to offer an alternate billing system for in-app purchases within India from April 26, 2023.

As per the new policy, if a user pays through the alternative billing system (also termed as User Choice billing system), the transaction will still be subjected to a service fee, but at a 4 percent rate reduction.

This effectively means that developers will have to shell out a service fee to Google ranging from 6-26 percent for in-app purchases and subscriptions, depending on the type of app/service and the annual revenue it generates on Google Play, as compared to the regular 10-30 percent service fee.

Vikas SN
Vikas SN
first published: Mar 29, 2023 05:27 pm