“Google stifles competition, forces manufacturers to use Android OS,” Telecom News, ET Telecom

NEW DELHI: Tech giant Google used search to perpetuate monopoly and stifle competition, and now is the time to open up the ecosystem and maintain a level playing field so consumers have a choice, said a top executive of an app maker from own soil.

“Google started with a search product and used it to maintain monopoly and brought in the Android operating system (OS), forcing original equipment manufacturers to bundle apps,” Rohan Verma, CEO and Executive Director of MapmyIndia, told ETTelecom.

The director said there should be a level playing field as Google made it difficult for consumers to opt out of their ecosystem and explore other options.

Last week, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) pleaded Google’s appeal against its ruling that the company abused its dominant position in the ecosystem to impose unfair terms on OEMs at the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

On the other hand, Google argued that its operating system was launched commercially in 2008, contributed to the growth of the mobile industry, and that the antitrust watchdog ruling had no legal basis.

Verma said they are hopeful for the positive outcome.

Last year, CCI held Google responsible for abuse of dominance in the Android ecosystem and fined it Rs 1,338 crore ($163 million).

The commission also issued a cease and desist order against Google for engaging in anti-competitive practices.

Following the CCI order, the US multinational appealed to the NCLAT, which, however, had refused to grant any injunctive relief.

The antitrust body investigated the case for four years and came up with a list of anti-competitive practices that it believes Google has done to stifle competition and innovation.

Google’s Android has a nearly 96% share of India’s 600 million strong smartphone market.

Verma said the US-based company offers preloaded apps, including Google maps, and does not allow consumers to remove Google maps from devices.

Google can track and target with custom ads even if users don’t want them to.

“It will be good if the OEM ecosystem is opened up. Alternative rivals to Google and consumers suffer in the process,” added the director.

Google’s competitors have demanded that mobile phone manufacturers be allowed to use multiple operating systems, as well as a wide variety of apps outside of the Google ecosystem.

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