Google, last week, lost its fight in India's Supreme Court to block an antitrust order. It is a major setback that will force the U.S. tech giant to change the business model of its popular Android operating system in a key growth market.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) ruled in October that Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc, exploited its dominant position in Android. CCI told Google to remove restrictions imposed on device makers, including related to pre-installation of apps. It also fined Google $161 million.
Google licenses its Android system to smartphone makers, but critics say it imposes restrictions such as mandatory pre-installation of its own apps that are anti-competitive. The company argues such agreements help keep Android free.
Android has been the subject of various investigations by regulators around the world. South Korea has fined Google for blocking customised versions of it to restrict competition, while the United States Justice Department has accused Google of executing anticompetitive distribution agreements for Android.
In India, the CCI has ordered that the licensing of Google’s Play Store "shall not be linked with the requirement of pre-installing" Google search services, the Chrome browser, YouTube or any other Google applications.
It also ordered Google to allow the uninstalling of its apps by Android phone users in India. Currently, apps such as Google Maps and YouTube cannot be deleted from Android phones when they come pre-installed.
In Europe, Google has made changes including letting Android device users pick their default search engine from a list of providers.
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