In a major push to promote indigenous digital ecosystem in mobile phones, the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) has firmed up an action plan to develop, promote and ensure mandatory usage of app store developed by C-DAC.  

In a meeting convened last month, it was decided that to ensure fair competition in the mobilephone market, pre-installed apps may be stopped and the matter was forwarded to Industrial Promotion Electronics & Hardware Group (IPHW) in MeitY for action. 

Further, pre-installation of app store developed by MeitY through its R&D arm (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing /C-DAC), is to be made mandatory in mobilephones, said sources.

It was decided that an app store (on the lines of Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store) for mobiles may be designed and developed and, for this, the app store already developed by C-DAC may be further enhanced. The matter has been referred to E-Governance cell in MeitY for action, they added.

Meanwhile, MeitY has convened a review meeting this month to assess the progress made on the action plan .The meeting, which is to be Chaired by MeitY Secretary, will see participation by representatives from Department of Science and Technology; Ministry of Road Transport & Highways; Ministry of Heavy Industries; Competition Commission of India and Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), it is learnt.

For mandatory pre installation of Google apps, the European Commission had imposed a fine on Google and the CCI here is also looking into this issue. 

CCI on pre-installed apps

Earlier, in 2019, the CCI had prima facie found Google’s restrictions on OEMs (requiring them to pre-install certain Google Apps) amounting to imposition of “unfair conditions”, whereby Google reduced the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operated on alternate versions of Android. 

By making pre-installation of Google’s proprietary apps conditional, Google “reduced the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operated on alternate versions of Android”, the CCI said in an order issued in May 2019. “It amounts to prima facile leveraging of Google’s dominance”. 

After detailed investigation and hearing, a final ruling is expected from CCI in the matter soon. 

The Indian case is similar to one Google faced in Europe, where regulators imposed a near $4 billion fine on the company for forcing manufacturers to pre-install its Apps on Android devices. 

Google has appealed against the European Union’s General Court verdict upholding the antitrust ruling against Google parent Alphabet. The fine was, however, cut to 4.12 billion euros from 4.34 billion euros earlier.

In its original decision in 2018, , the European Commission held that Google gave an unfair advantage to its apps, such as Chrome and Search, by forcing smartphone makers to pre-install them in a bundle with its App Store, Play.