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Google found guilty of misusing Android dominance in India, CCI orders wider probe

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Google appears to have misused its dominant position in India and reduced the ability of device manufacturers to opt for alternate versions of its Android mobile operating system, Indian officials found before ordering a wider probe in an antitrust case.

A 14-page order from the Competition Commission of India (CCI), reviewed by Reuters this week, found Google’s restrictions on manufacturers seemed to amount to imposition of “unfair conditions” under India’s competition law.

Reuters reported last month that the CCI had launched a probe in April against Google for its alleged abuse of Android’s dominant position to block rivals, but the contents of the directive detailing the initial assessment upon which that investigation was ordered have not been previously revealed.

The Indian case is similar to one Google faced in Europe, where regulators imposed a $5 billion fine on the company for forcing manufacturers to pre-install its apps on Android devices. Google has appealed against the verdict.

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By making pre-installation of Google’s proprietary apps conditional, Google “reduced the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operated on alternate versions of Android”, the CCI said in the order. “It amounts to prima facie leveraging of Google’s dominance”.

Asked for comment, Google referred Reuters to its statement last month, in which it said Android had enabled millions of Indians to connect to the internet by making mobile devices more affordable. Google looked forward to working with the CCI “to demonstrate how Android has led to more competition and innovation, not less”, the company said at the time.

The CCI did not respond to a request for comment.

While the order, dated April 16, called for a wider probe against Google, the watchdog’s investigations unit could still clear Google of any wrongdoing.

The amount of any fine that could be imposed on Google if the CCI rules against it was not clear.

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