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Following CCI’s directives, Google announces updates to Android in India

India’s competition authority fined Google Rs 1337.76 crore in October for abusing its dominant position in the country.


Google on Wednesday announced a slew of updates to Android in India. The move comes after the Supreme Court of India upheld an antitrust order that asked the American multinational tech giant to open the platform for fair competition.


Among a slew of announcements, the Sundar Pichai-led company will now allow manufacturers to license individual Google apps for pre-installation on their devices. Further, Android users in India will now have the option to choose their default search engine. The tech major said that this could be done through a ‘choice screen’ which will soon appear when a user sets up a new Android smartphone or tablet in the country.


The California headquartered company is also updating its in-app billing system and announced that users’ choice billing will be available to all apps and games starting next month. Developers can now offer users the choice to opt for an alternative billing system alongside Google Play’s billing system when purchasing in-app digital content.


Google’s Android operating system powers 97% of India’s 600 million smartphones, making it the tech giant’s largest market in terms of users, according to research firm Counterpoint.


The Competition Commission of India fined the company Rs 1337.76 crore in October for abusing its dominant position by forcefully entering “one-sided agreements” with Android mobile makers to ensure the dominance of its apps and search engine. In the same week that month, the competition authority again fined Google Rs 936.44 crores for abusing its market position on Play Store to promote its payments app and in-app payment system.


Google first approached the NCLAT against CCI’s directives, where the authority ordered the company to pay 10 percent of the Rs 1337.76 crore worth of penalty imposed by the competition authority as an interim measure. Google then approached the Supreme Court earlier this month to seek relief.


The tech giant, however, lost its fight in Supreme Court to block the competition authority’s order. The apex court refused to grant Google an interim stay on the penalty imposed by the CCI and gave the company seven days to comply with the directives.


“We are making some changes as required by the CCI’s directives. Implementation of these changes across the ecosystem will be a complex process and will require significant work at our end and, in many cases, significant efforts from partners, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and developers,” Google said on Wednesday.


The company is also updating the Android compatibility requirements to introduce changes for partners to build non-compatible or forked variants. Google added that it has recently changed the Android installation flow and auto-updating capability for sideloaded apps and app stores while ensuring users understand the potential security risks.


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