Competition Commission of India (CCI) investigation into Google

Competition Commission of India (CCI) investigation into Google


Investigations and convictions of the BigTech companies become more common day by day. This summer Competition Commission of India joined the trend by stating in the order that Google "reduced the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operated on alternate versions of Android". The commission explained that the automatic pre-installation of Google Apps on all of the Android systems is a misuse of the company's dominant position in India's Market, as it limits the choice of the phone and tablet producers in the operating systems.

Thus, the Indian Competition Commission ordered a more in-depth investigation in this case. Order from the CCI stated that Google's restrictions on manufacturers seemed to amount to the imposition of "unfair conditions" under India's competition law. According to CCI's initial investigation Google "reduced the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operated on alternate versions of Android", furthermore the CCI noted in the order that Google's business practice " amounts to prima facie leveraging of Google's dominance".

Google has already faced very similar investigations in Europe; as a result, the local competition authority has issued a hefty 4,34 billion euro fine, which was appealed by the company. According to Reuters, Google has not released an official comment on the issue, but have instead pointed to its previously issued statement - that the Android systems had increased mobile and network penetration in India and has provided millions of Indians with the internet connection by making mobile devices more affordable. Which, in turn, is supposed to increase the local competition in multiple spheres. In its statement, Google noted that it is going to work with the CCI "to demonstrate how Android has led to more competition and innovation, not less."

Large-scale digitalization of the economy seriously affects competition. On one hand, the distribution of goods that could not have arisen without a "number" strengthens competition. Cross-country borders are erased, the choice of products and services is wider, and their search and comparison are faster and easier. On the other hand, there is a risk of market concentration and opacity: digital platforms can quickly scale a business, and data collection allows you to manipulate user choices and keep them hooked. The speed and complexity of regulating digital markets pose new challenges for antitrust services.

This case is still an ongoing issue with no guaranteed result in sight. However, even at its initial stages, it represents an interesting and highly relevant case in terms of the development of antitrust legislation in digital markets in India.