The Competition Commission of India (“CCI”) vide its order dated June 22, 2021 directed the Director General to cause an investigation against Google for alleged anti-competitive conduct in the smart TV market. The said order was passed on an information filed under Section 19(1)(a) of the Competition Act, 2002 (“Act”).
Information under Section 19(1)(a) of the Act was filed by two individuals, Mr. Kshitiz Arya and Mr. Purushottam Anand (collectively referred to as, the “Informants”) against against Google LLC, Google India Private Limited, Xiaomi Technology India Private Limited and TCL India Holdings Private Limited alleging contravention of various provisions of Sections 3 (anti-competitive agreements) and 4 (abuse of dominant position) of the Act.
The Informants alleged that Google has imposed several restrictions upon smart TV and smart mobile device OEMs by virtue of the agreements entered into with them which tantamount to abuse of its dominant position by Google, in terms of various provisions of Section 4 of the Act:
Analysis of the Commission:
a) In order to be able to preinstall Google’s proprietary apps, device manufacturers have to commit to and comply with the ACC for all devices based on android manufactured/ distributed/ sold by them; and
b) In order to be able to preinstall any proprietary app of Google, e.g. Play Store, device manufacturers will have to preinstall the entire suite of Google apps.
c) The CCI was of the prima facie opinion that by making pre-installation of Google’s proprietary apps (particularly Play Store) conditional upon signing of ACC for all android devices manufactured/distributed/marketed by device manufacturers, Google has reduced the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operating on alternative versions of Android i.e. Android forks, and thereby limited technical or scientific development relating to goods or services to the prejudice of consumers in contravention of Section 4(2)(b) of the Act. Further, ACC prevents OEMs from manufacturing/ distributing/ selling any other device which operate on a competing forked Android operating system. Therefore, given the dominance of Google in the relevant markets and pronounced network effects, by virtue of this restriction, developers of such forked Android operating system are denied market access resulting in violation of Section 4(2)(c) of the Act.
Please find a copy of the order here.
This update has been contributed by R. Sudhinder (Senior Partner) and Prerana Amitabh (Counsel).
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