CCI’s landmark order against Google

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India’s competition regulator CCI on Thursday passed an order imposing a provisional fine of Rs 1,337.7 crore on Google for abusing the dominant position of its Android mobile phone operating system. CCI also asked Google to implement a set of 10 corrective measures that will open up the mobile ecosystem. This is an important step in the fight against monopolistic behavior in the digital economy. Its relevance comes from the scale of its impact in India and the global context as well. Android has around 96% market share in India among mobile phones, which are the most popular internet access points.

In 2018, the European Commission fined Google for using a similar business model that violated the region’s antitrust rules. The business model uses unique features of the digital economy such as the network effect to create economies of scope that lock consumers into complementary services provided by Google. The abuse of market power stems from agreements mobile phone makers sign with Google to preinstall its set of apps in a way that discriminates against standalone app developers. Consequently, competing service providers are being squeezed out.

CCI’s remedies give Google three months to amend the agreements and implement other changes to break the company’s grip on the market through the pre-installation route. The digital economy presents a unique set of challenges for competition regulators, as dominance is exercised through economies of scope. CCI’s injunction against Google was preceded by a lengthy investigation into its market practices. Therefore, not only does this order set an important precedent in preventing market abuse in India’s burgeoning digital economy, but the work behind it helps build the capacity of the regulator. India’s startup ecosystem will only realize its potential if Big Tech is made to play by the rules.



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This article appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of the Times of India.



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