The growth of Google’s Android ecosystem is poised to stall in India because of an antitrust order requiring the company to change the way it markets the platform, the U.S. company said in a Supreme Court appeal seen by Reuters.
The Competition Commission of India (ICC) fined Google, owned by Alphabet, in October:GOOGLInc, with $161 million for exploiting its dominant position in Android, which is used by 97% of smartphones in India, and asked it to change restrictions placed on smartphone makers regarding the pre-installation of apps.
Google has so far said the ICC’s decision will force it to change its business model as usual, but its appeal to the Indian Supreme Court quantifies for the first time the impact and details the changes the company will have to make.
Google will have to modify its current contracts, introduce new licensing agreements and alter its current agreements with more than 1,100 device makers and thousands of app developers, he says.
“The tremendous advance in the growth of an ecosystem of device manufacturers, app developers and users is about to stop due to corrective measures,” Google’s request, which is not public, states.
“Google will have to introduce far-reaching changes to the Android mobile platform, which has been in place for the last 14-15 years.”
A Google spokesman declined to comment.
Google has expressed concern about India’s decision, as the ordered corrective measures are seen as more sweeping than the European Commission’s landmark 2018 ruling for imposing illegal restrictions on Android mobile device makers. Google challenged the record $4.3 billion fine in that case.
Google licenses its Android system to smartphone makers, but critics say it imposes restrictions such as mandatory pre-installation of its own apps, which are anti-competitive. The company argues that those deals help keep Android free.
In October, the ICC ordered Google not to ban Android phone users in India from uninstalling its apps; Currently, you can’t remove apps like Google Maps or YouTube from Android phones when they’re pre-installed.
The ICC also said Google’s licensing of its Play Store “will not be tied to the requirement to pre-install” Google’s search services, Chrome browser, YouTube or any other Google app.
“No other jurisdiction has ever requested changes of such scope based on similar conduct,” Google said in its court pleadings.
The company has asked the Supreme Court to suspend the corrective measures ordered by the ICC, which will come into force on January 19, according to court documents dated January 7. The case is likely to be seen in the coming days.