Google loses bid to block ICC decision in Supreme Court, agrees to cooperate with antitrust authority
Google said on Friday it would cooperate with India’s competition authority after the country’s top court upheld an antitrust order requiring the US company to change the way it markets its popular Android platform.
India’s Competition Commission (CCI) ruled in October that Alphabet-owned Google was exploiting its dominant position in Android and asked it to remove restrictions on device makers, including those related to the pre- installation of applications and the exclusivity of its research. It also fined Google $161 million (about Rs. 1,308 crore).
On Thursday, Google lost a Supreme Court challenge to block the guidelines, getting seven days to comply.
“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 relief and did not rule on the merits of our appeal,” Google said, adding that it would pursue its legal challenge of the Android decision.
India’s top court has said a lower court – where Google first challenged the Android guidelines – can continue to hear the company’s appeal and must rule by March 31.
Around 97% of India’s 600 million smartphones run Android, according to Counterpoint Research estimates. Apple only has a 3% share.
Hoping to block the implementation of the ICC guidelines, Google had challenged the ICC order in the Supreme Court warning that it could block the growth of the Android ecosystem. It also 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 is concerned about India’s decision, as the measures are seen as more drastic than those imposed in the European Commission’s 2018 decision. There it was 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 (about Rs 34,935 crore) fine in the case.
In Europe, Google made changes later, including letting Android device users choose their default search engine and said device makers will be able to license Google’s suite of mobile apps separately from the app. Google search or Chrome browser.
Some analysts say Google will now have to make similar changes in India to comply with the guidelines.
Faisal Kawoosa, founder of Indian research firm Techarc, said Google may need to consider other business models, such as charging startups an upfront fee to provide access to the Android platform and its Play Store.
© Thomson Reuters 2023