MapmyIndia founder Rohan Verma, on Thursday, said Google’s proposals announced on Wednesday do not meet the Competition Commission of India’s mandate.
The geotech start-up has been leading the war against the American tech major for its anti-competitive policies. It had also approached the Supreme Court on January 16, filing an impleadment plea against the apex court to ensure that there is no delay in the implementation of CCI’s directives against Google.
After the Supreme Court’s January 19 judgement, where they declined to stay the operation of the CCI order imposing a ₹1,337.76 fine on Google, along with its mandate to implement CCI’s directives – Google announced on January 25 that it will be making some changes as required by the CCI’s directives.
The changes proposed by Google are as follows: OEMs will be able to license individual Google apps for pre-installation on their devices. Indians will be able to choose their preferred search engines in a choice screen that will soon start to appear when a user sets up a new Android smartphone or tablet in India.
Google will also be updating the Android compatibility requirements to introduce changes for partners to build non-compatible or forked variants. User choice billing will be available to all apps and games starting next month. Through user choice billing, developers can offer users the option to choose an alternative billing system alongside Google Play’s billing system when purchasing in-app digital content.
Google also highlighted that they recently made changes to the Android installation flow and auto-updating capability for sideloaded apps and app stores. Sideloading allows users to download apps directly from the developer’s website, especially if they are not on Google’s Play Store.
Reacting to Google’s proposals, Verma told businessline: “It is unfortunate that rather than comply fully in letter and in spirit and in time with the orders of the apex court of India, Google is still attempting to dilute and delay the outcome of the CCI investigation and directives and defy the order of the honourable Supreme Court. Google could have simply written they will comply in full with all 10 CCI directives, in time, and we will seek CCI’s confirmation that the changes we have made meet their directives. This is what is expected, and would be appreciated as a first step towards rectifying the damage created by Google’s 15 years of anti-competitive conduct.”
According to Verma, Google’s proposals are vague and not in full compliance with CCI’s extensive list of directives, which is indeed far more extensive with clear mandates around Google’s data policy, transparency on fee structure and other matters for app developers, the mandate to not use any anti-steering provisions on developers which prevents them from communicating with users or promoting their apps, etc.
Even with the directives, which Google is attempting to comply with, as per Verma the wording of the proposal is purposefully vague to delay or prevent complete compliance.
Verma added, “Google’s anti-competitive practices have complicatedly intertwined all stakeholders such that Google has an extremely strong vice grip on the digital ecosystem. All 10 points done collectively and completely, will have the effect of loosening their vice grip. Google is trying to show that they are making changes - but the fact is these are piecemeal, and also being done in the way Google wants - and the outcome of this will not lead to the on-ground impact of enhancing competition. In Europe also Google has been following this playbook of making cosmetic changes.”
Verma notes that authorities such as CCI or the Supreme Court will take action against the proposed changes by Google.
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