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India's antitrust watchdog fines Google second time in a week

Jingyue Hsiao, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: AFP

India's antitrust watchdog fined Google for abusing its dominant position in the payment system in its proprietary mobile OS. It is the second time in a week that Google was fined, with more investigations against it continuing in the country where Google commands 97% of the market.

The Competition of Commission of India (CCI) issued a document and a press release, fining Google INR9.36 billion (US$113.4 million) for abusing its dominant position with respect to its billing system in Google Play. CCI issued a cease-and-desist order containing eight corrective measures requiring Google to implement.

CCI said Google requires app developers to exclusively and mandatorily use Google Play's billing system not only for receiving payments for apps distributed/sold through the Google Play store but also for certain in-app purchases. If the app developers do not comply with Google's policy, they are not permitted to list their apps on the Play Store, thus losing out the vast pool of potential customers.

Despite that, Google is not using its own Google Play billing system for its own YouTube service, amounting to discriminatory pricing as YouTube does not have to pay the services fee as being imposed on other apps covered in Google Play billing system.

CCI issued eight corrective measures for Google to implement. Google has to allow and not restrict app developers from using any third-party billing services. Google shall not impose any anti-steering provisions on app developers and restrict them from communicating with their users to promote their apps and offerings in any manner.

It is the second time in a week that the Indian regulator fined Google. India fined Google US$164 million for allegedly abusing the dominant role of its Android OS. According to CCI's document, Google has a dominant position in five different markets in India, including mobile OS, app store, web search services, non-OS specific mobile web browsers, and online video hosting platforms. The Economic Times, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that CCi is in the process of issuing orders against Google in at least two more cases.

Bloomberg reported that Google said it is reviewing CCI's previous order imposing a US$162 million penalty, which is a major setback for local consumers and businesses and will raise the price of Android smartphones. India smartphone vendors are currently facing cost pressure as the rupee depreciates against the dollar, and price hikes may follow, The Economic Times reports.