Supreme Court rejects Google's request to block Android antitrust ruling


Supreme Court rejects Google's request to block Android antitrust ruling

Google has lost its fight in India's Supreme Court to block an antitrust order. This is a major setback that will force the company 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 Alphabet Inc’s Google exploited its dominant position in Android and told it to remove restrictions imposed on device makers, including related to pre-installation of apps. It also fined Google $161 million.


Google challenged the order in the Supreme Court, saying it would hurt consumers and its business. It warned growth of the Android ecosystem could stall and it would be forced to alter arrangements with more than 1,100 device manufacturers and thousands of app developers. Google also said "no other jurisdiction has ever asked for such far-reaching changes".


A three-judge bench at the Supreme Court, which included India's chief justice, delayed the Jan. 19 implementation of the CCI's directives by one week, but declined to block them.


During the hearing, Chief Justice D.Y Chandrachud said, "We are not inclined to interfere. Look at the kind of authority which you wield in terms of dominance."


About 97% of 600 million smartphones in India run on Android, according to Counterpoint Research estimates. Apple (AAPL.O) has just a 3% share.


India's top court asked a lower tribunal, which is already hearing the matter, to decide on Google's challenge by March 31.


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 Google that the licensing of its 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.


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