Google says CCI orders are a blow to digital adoption in India and will drive up prices
Google on Friday slammed the competition regulator for imposing penalties for allegedly abusing its dominant position, saying the orders are a blow to efforts to accelerate India’s digital adoption and will drive up prices.
Failing to secure interim relief over more than Rs. 2,200 crore fine imposed by India’s Competition Commission (CCI), the US tech giant wrote a blog “The Heart of the Matter” to make clear how the orders would harm the country’s digital ecosystem.
India, he said, is at a time when barriers to access need to be removed and safe and secure smartphones made available to all.
“At a time when only half of India’s population is online, the ICC Order’s instructions are a blow to ecosystem-wide efforts to accelerate digital adoption in the country,” he said, adding that the company is appealing the orders.
CCI in October last year slapped a Rs. 1,337.76 crore fine on Google for exploiting its dominance over Android, which powers 97% of smartphones in India. It imposed another Rs. 936 crore fine imposed on the US tech giant in a case related to its Play Store policies.
While in the first case, CCI asked Google to allow smartphone users on the Android platform to uninstall apps and let them select a search engine of their choice, the regulator asked the company to take corrective action on policies that required developers to use Google Play. billing system to list their apps on its Play Store.
Currently, apps such as Google Maps or YouTube cannot be removed from their Android phones when they are pre-installed.
Google was unable to obtain redress from the NCLAT appeals tribunal, which asked the company to file 10% of the fine within four weeks. Google has since moved the Supreme Court in at least one case.
In the blog, Google said Android is a key part of India’s mobile and internet growth story.
“In 2008, when Android was launched, access to internet-enabled smart devices was a huge challenge due to prohibitive costs. Over the past 15 years, thanks to Android’s free open source software and following of high-quality apps, Google has helped device makers make smartphones more affordable by a big margin,” he said.
As a result, a fully functional smartphone is available at less than Rs. 6,000.
“For a country like India, where the cost of adoption is the biggest barrier to digitization, this had profound implications. More users incentivized more developers, and each of those developers achieved immediate scale by writing a single app for Android,” he added. said.
The number of annual app downloads in India hit a new high of 29 billion in 2022, making it the second largest app market after China, giving developers in India and elsewhere a solid platform to establish viable businesses on play store.
Google said predatory apps expose users to financial fraud and data theft and while it can scan apps on its Play Store for malware as well as compliance with local laws, the same checks may not be in place for applications downloaded from other sources.
The ICC-ordered remedies undermine India’s digital adoption drive, he said, adding that the remedies ordered by the regulator would lead to increased exposure to online harm and privacy risks.
“Devices built on incompatible ‘forks’ (or different versions of Android) would prevent Google from securing those devices, as those versions will not support security and user safety features provided by Google,” he said. -he declares.
“The lack of robust and consistent security upgrades will expose users of these devices to cybercrime, bugs and malware, which is most troubling for the millions of new internet users who are especially vulnerable,” he added.
Android today strikes the right balance between a consistent security foundation through basic compatibility, while device makers have the choice to create bespoke and highly differentiated user experiences for their brands on top of that. .
“The uncontrolled proliferation of these apps on less secure devices can put large swathes of Indian users at risk of having their data exposed and pose threats to individual and national security,” Google said.
Since incompatible Android forks will not support security and user safety features provided by Google, security responsibilities for these devices will instead fall to OEMs, who will have to invest heavily in creating updates themselves. consistent level of security throughout the year.
This, he said, will lead to higher costs for OEMs and, therefore, more expensive devices for Indian consumers.
Thanks to Android’s compatibility program, when developers write apps for Android, apps can immediately access Android’s vast user base. This allows even smaller developers to compete against larger developers across the Android ecosystem, based on product merit and superiority.
If the CCI command is implemented, “they won’t have the same conditions as today with Android, and the big developers, who can support a wider range of incompatible forks, will be able to dominate the market depending their scale, rather than the quality of their product,” he said.
Google said the free Android operating system allows device makers to create a wide range of devices at different price points, giving users unprecedented choice.
Android leaves OEMs free to pre-install any other app and app store and they all already do.
“Users are free to install apps from sources other than app stores (“sideload”) – in such cases, Android displays alerts to ensure that users act in good conscience for their own security.
“For developers, in addition to providing a large and dynamic platform to reach users, Android offers tools, predictability, timely security upgrades and multiple monetization options,” he said. -he adds.
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