Google is facing investigations in India by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) on its business practices, particularly with the Android operating system on smartphones. The CCI has now written to the different phone manufacturers to share the copies of the agreements that they have entered into with Google for the use of the Android operating system on their respective devices. Android is the OS on as much as 99% of the smartphones in India.
This is being handled by the investigative wing of the CCI and is reportedly on the basis of a complaint received by the Commission. The allegation against Google is that it is misusing its dominant position in the market and arm-twisting the phone manufacturers. Incidentally, Google has already been fined a hefty $5 billion by the European Union for almost similar charges. Some of the phone makers listed are Samsung, Karbonn, Lava and Xiaomi among others.
The period of investigation is eight years between 2011 and 2019, and CCI is asking these companies to disclose if Google placed any restrictions on them during this period. The companies have been asked to provide details of the â€ślicence fee or royalty payments made to Google for using Android OS and Google mobile services on a yearly basis, from April 2011 till March 2019â€ť. Other details sought by CCI include the annual sale of devices by operating system (OS) for brands, smartphones and tablets between 2011 and 2019. Details of the agreement on the use of apps on their phones have also been sought.
Interestingly, these letters asking the phone makers to provide the information went out a month back and only 15 days were given to them to send in their responses. It is not clear if the responses have been received at the CCIâ€™s end. It is reported that CCI had even mentioned that their investigation is time-bound.
Google is reported to have agreed to cooperate with the Commission as well. Googleâ€™s executives may even be called to testify by the CCI investigative team.
Incidentally, this is not the first rub-in for Google with the CCI. They had already been fined an amount of Rs 136 crore last year. That was against a complaint over its search engine policy and misuse of its dominant position.