Google said in a statement that it was evaluating next steps following the order and penalty issued by the Competiton Commission of India but added that developers had benefitted from flexibility and choice provided by its operating system Android, and it's play store Google Play, as it kept costs low and hence made it accessible to people.
"Indian developers have benefited from the technology, security, consumer protections, and unrivaled choice and flexibility that Android and Google Play provide. And, by keeping costs low, our model has powered India's digital transformation and expanded access for hundreds of millions of Indians," a Google India spokesperson said Wednesday.
"We remain committed to our users and developers and are reviewing the decision to evaluate the next steps," the spokesperson added.
Search engine giant Google on Tuesday was fined for the second time in a week for abuse of its dominant market position, with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) penalizing the company ₹936.44 crore for its app store billing policies. The regulator also issued a cease-and-desist order against Google regarding these policies.
Google allows developers on its Play store to receive payments for their apps, audio, video and games, as well as certain in-app purchases, solely through its Google Play Billing System, CCI said in a 199-page order, directing the company to modify its conduct within three months.
CCI said Google presented revenue data with “glaring inconsistencies and wide disclaimers”; however, the regulator said it computed the provisional penalty based on company data “in the interest of justice and with an intent of ensuring necessary market correction at the earliest.” “Accordingly, the CCI imposed a penalty @ 7% of its average relevant turnover amounting to ₹936.44 crore upon Google on a provisional basis for violating Section 4 of the Act. Google has been given a time of 30 days to provide the requisite financial details and supporting documents,” the order said.
Last week, CCI imposed a penalty of ₹1,337.76 crore on the technology giant, citing a similar abuse of its dominant position “in multiple markets of the Android ecosystem”, such as Play Store. CCI said Google was dominant in the markets for the licensable operating system for smart mobile devices and the market for app stores for Android smart mobile OS in India.
The CCI report said because of its several collaborative agreements with YouTube, Google was put in an advantageous position vis-a-vis its rivals in the online video domain.
CCI also examined the allegations of exclusion of rival UPI apps as effective payment options on Play Store. It was found that Google Pay has been integrated with intent flow methodology, whereas other UPI apps can be used through collect flow methodology.
“It was noted that the intent flow technology is superior and user-friendly than collect flow technology, with intent flow offering significant advantages to both customers and merchants and the success rate with the intent flow methodology being higher due to lower latency,” the order said.
It further said developers could not, within an app, provide users with a direct link to a webpage containing an alternative payment method or use language that encourages a user to purchase the digital item outside of the app, also known as anti-steering provisions.