Startups to write to government and CCI against Google’s rules


Startups to write to government and CCI against Google’s rules

A virtual meeting held between a group of 15 startup founders and the Competition Commission of India (CCI), to apprise the regulator about Google’s anti-competitive policies in India.  


In the meeting, discussions on Google’s recent imposition of its Play Store billing system on Indian developers, as well as the 30% commission the company charges for selling digital goods and services through the system took place.


The founders said that phones with Google’s Android operating system (OS) are preloaded with the Play Store app distribution platform, giving it an inherent advantage over rivals.


As Google has its dominance in app discovery and distribution, the company forces Indian developers to build and change apps based on its OS and app store, alleged the founders. The also said that the company’s “arbitrary policies” illustrate this behaviour.


“With more than 95% of India’s digital population accessing the Internet through Google, this strategy of having an OS and Play Store, together gives Google an advantage over other app stores and operating systems. Hence, we have requested them to look into this matter,” said one of the founders present at the meeting.


The startup founders are planning to send a written communication this week to both the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) as well as the CCI after collating views from the industry.  


If the startups file a case against Google with the CCI, it will be the fifth such case Google faces in India.


Two independent lawyers filed an antitrust case against Google last week for abusing its dominance in AndroidTV, while the regulator is also looking into two other antitrust suits against the company.


For past two weeks, Google had to face a strong reaction from the Indian startup ecosystem after it issued a clarification for the already existing Play Billing policy in India.


The company has not yet removed the 30% commission it charges for sales through the Play Store. Moreover, it has given Indian startups six more months than global to comply with this policy.


Additionally, Google has also been arranging meetings with developers and startup founders to listen to their concerns and has said that it will do policy workshops with companies as well.


Some startups are already looking at alternative listing for their apps through Android Application Package (APK) downloads on their websites. There are instances such as fantasy sports platform Dream11 getting 100 million users without listing on Google Play Store.


The central government, which has been in listening mode so far, had asked startups last week to send a letter apprising it of the challenges. The founders plan to send this application by this week. A view will be firmed up after deliberations at various levels, a government official had said.

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