Google said Wednesday it will allow device makers in India to license its individual apps for pre-installation and give users an option to choose their default search engine, announcing sweeping changes to how it promotes its Android system.
The move came after the country’s Supreme Court last week upheld strict antitrust guidelines and rejected an appeal from Google against a ruling by India’s Competition Commission that said the company abused its market position and ordered the way it marketed its Android system. in an important growth market. .
Google has also made some changes to its in-app billing system, which was at the center of another Indian antitrust decision recently, which found the company engaging in anti-competitive practices by restricting the use of third-party billing or payment processing services.
“Implementing these changes across the entire ecosystem will be a complex process and will require significant work on our part and, in many cases, significant effort from partners, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and developers,” Google said in a blog post.
Google was concerned about India’s Android decision, as the guidelines were seen as more drastic than those imposed in the landmark 2018 European Commission ruling against the operating system.
About 97 percent of India’s 600 million smartphones run Android, while in Europe the system accounts for 75 percent of 550 million smartphones, according to estimates by Counterpoint Research.
Appeal to the court
The CCI ruled in October that Google, owned by Alphabet Inc, was exploiting its dominant position in Android and told it to lift restrictions on device manufacturers, including those related to pre-installing apps and ensuring exclusivity of its search. It also fined Google $161 million.
Hoping to block implementation of the CCI guidelines, Google had approached the Supreme Court warning that the growth of its Android ecosystem will stop. It said it would be forced to change agreements with more than 1,100 device manufacturers and thousands of app developers if the guidelines go into effect.
But the Supreme Court declined to block the guidelines as Google requested. The court had also said a lower tribunal — where Google first challenged the Android guidelines — can continue to hear the company’s appeal and must decide by March 31.
We respectfully appeal certain aspects of the CCI’s decisions.
The US search giant also said it is updating Android compatibility requirements to include changes for partners to build non-compatible variants of Android.
In Europe, Google was fined for introducing what the Commission called illegal restrictions on makers of Android mobile devices. Google is still challenging the record $4.3 billion fine in that case.
As for in-app billing, Google said it will start offering users choice billing for all apps and games starting next month, which will help developers offer an option to choose alternative systems in addition to Google’s when buying in-app digital content.
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