Google Says Antitrust Penalty Hits Digital Adoption in India

New Delhi:

Google on Friday hit out at the competition regulator for imposing penalties for alleged abuse of its dominant position, saying the orders hurt efforts to accelerate digital adoption in India and would lead to higher prices.

The US tech giant, which has failed to secure an interim relief from a fine of over Rs 2,200 crore imposed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI), has penned a blog titled “Heart of the Matter” to convey its views on how the orders will hurt the company. digital ecosystem in the country.

India, he said, needs to remove barriers to entry and make safe and secure smartphones available to all.

“At a time when only half of India’s population is connected, the directions in CCI’s order undermine ecosystem-wide efforts to accelerate digital adoption in the country,” he said, adding that the firm had challenged the orders.

The CCI had slapped a fine of Rs 1,337.76 crore on Google in October last year for abusing its dominant position over Android, which powers 97 percent of smartphones in India. It also fined the US tech giant another Rs 936 crore in a case over Play Store policies.

In the first case, the CCI asked Google to allow Android smartphone users to uninstall apps and choose their preferred search engine, but the regulator asked the company to take corrective steps on policies that force developers to use Google Play. billing system to list their apps on the Play Store.

Currently, apps like Google Maps or YouTube cannot be uninstalled from Android phones if they are pre-installed.

Google failed to get relief from the NCLAT appellate court, which asked the company to deposit 10 percent of the fine within four weeks. Google has since taken at least one case to the Supreme Court.

In a blog post, Google said Android is a key part of India’s mobile and internet growth story.

“When Android launched in 2008, access to smart, Internet-enabled devices was a huge challenge due to prohibitive costs. Over the past 15 years, Google has helped the device with Android’s free, open-source software and suite of high-quality apps. Manufacturers have made smartphones more affordable by a large margin. they bring at a price,” he said.

As a result, the fully functional smartphone is priced under Rs 6,000.

“For a country like India, where adoption costs are the biggest barrier to digitization, this has profound implications. More users encouraged more developers, and each of those developers achieved instant scale by writing a single app for Android.” he said.

Annual app downloads in India are set to reach 29 billion in 2022, making it the second largest app market after China, offering developers in India and elsewhere a strong platform to build a solid business on the Play Store.

Google said predatory apps expose users to financial fraud and data theft, and while it can scan apps on the Play Store for malware and compliance with local laws, the same checks may not be done for apps sideloaded from other sources.

CCI’s bespoke tools hit digital adoption drive in India, he said, adding the regulator’s bespoke tools will increase exposure to online harm and privacy risks.

“Devices built on incompatible ‘forks’ (or different versions of Android) will prevent Google from securing those devices, as those versions will not support Google-provided security and user safety features.”

“A lack of strong and consistent security improvements will expose users of those devices to cybercrime, bugs, and malware—a concern of greatest concern to the millions of new internet users who are especially vulnerable,” he said.

Android today offers the right balance of a consistent security foundation through core compatibility, while device manufacturers have the option to create bespoke and highly differentiated user experiences for their brands on top of that.

“The unchecked proliferation of such apps on less secure devices could expose a large portion of Indian users to the risk of data exposure and pose a threat to personal and national security,” Google said.

Since incompatible Android forks won’t support Google-provided security and user safety features, security responsibilities for these devices will instead fall on OEMs, who will have to invest heavily in creating consistent, year-round security improvements.

This will lead to higher costs for OEMs and ultimately costlier devices for Indian consumers, he said.

As a result of Android’s compatibility program, when developers write apps for Android, the apps can immediately tap into Android’s vast user base. This allows even small developers to compete with big developers in the entire Android ecosystem based on product superiority and superiority.

If the CCI order is implemented, “they will no longer have the level playing field they have with Android today, and larger developers who can support a wider variety of incompatible forks will be able to dominate the market based on their scale and the quality of their product,” he said.

Google said the free Android operating system allows device manufacturers to create a wide variety of devices at different price points, giving users unprecedented choice.

Android OEMs leave any other apps and app stores free to pre-install, and they already do.

“Users can install apps from sources outside of app stores (“sideload”) – in such cases, Android displays warnings to ensure that users act consciously for their own security.

“In addition to providing a broad, vibrant platform for users, Android offers tools, predictability, timely security updates, and multiple monetization options,” he added.

(Other than the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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