India investigates Google for suspected Android abuse

India investigates Google for suspected Android abuse
India investigates Google for suspected Android abuse

India’s antitrust watchdog is investigating whether Alphabet Inc.’s Google used its Android platform to block rivals, New Delhi’s latest move to try to tamp down American tech behemoths.

The investigation launched by the Competition Commission of India resembles a case last year in which the European Union fined Google $4.87 billion for what it said was abuse of its dominant Android mobile operating system to boost its own business, according to an Indian government official with knowledge of the matter.

The case is another example of antitrust authorities in many parts of the world taking cues from the EU, which has been investigating Google for nearly a decade.

“We have consulted the EU and the U.S. on the matter, and decided to move forward with the investigation as primary scrutiny suggests abuse by Google,” said the official, who declined to be identified.

The EU last year ordered Google to stop making phone manufacturers pre-install its search app and the Chrome web browser if they want to pre-install Google’s Play store, the dominant way to download Android apps.

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“Android has enabled millions of Indians to connect to the internet by making mobile devices more affordable,” said a Google spokesman. “We look forward to working with the Competition Commission of India to demonstrate how Android has led to more competition and innovation, not less,” the spokesman said.

The Indian authorities expect to complete the investigation in the next few months, during which they would summon Google executives, said the official. The probe was earlier reported by Reuters on Friday. Further details about the complaint leading to the investigation couldn’t be determined.

CCI Chairman Ashok Gupta declined to comment on the matter. CCI Secretary P.K Singh didn’t answer calls and emails seeking comment. A spokesman for the Indian Finance Ministry declined to comment.

The CCI last year fined Google 1.36 billion rupees ($19 million) for what it said was an abuse of its role as the country’s top search engine to favor its own services.

Hoping to match China’s success at sheltering and promoting its domestic tech titans, Indian policy makers have been discussing ways to restrict American tech companies in what many consider the world’s biggest untapped tech market.

Amazon.com Inc . has grown rapidly in India, where it is investing $5 billion. Walmart Inc.last year bought Flipkart, India’s biggest domestic online shopping firm, for $16 billion, its largest acquisition ever. Facebook Inc. and its WhatsApp messaging service, along with Netflix Inc. and Google’s YouTube, are among the country’s most used apps.

Click here for more from The Wall Street Journal, where this story was first published. 

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