Competition Commission of India (CCI) has asked smartphone makers for some information. This information is regarding the agreements that these smartphone makers have signed with Google and its group of companies. It looks like CCI is asking for this information to widen its probe against Google. As previously reported, CCI started its probe against Google in April to investigate allegations of misuse of market share. This probe comes months after the European Union issued a significant fine on Google regarding similar charges. CCI wants to ensure that Google has not employed similar tactics of market share abuse in India. To ensure that smartphone makers comply with the probe, the CCI Director General has already issued letters to Samsung, Xiaomi, Karbonn, and Lava.
According to a report by The Economic Times, CCI also wants to know if Google issued any restriction on smartphone makers. The government body also wants to know if Google restricted these companies from using any Google apps or services. The interesting part about this move is that CCI wants to gather such information spanning over eight years. For context, the letter demands information from April 2011 till April 2019. In fact, this is not all. The letters also demand any details about “license fee or royalty payments” that these smartphone makers had to make to Google. Similar to other details, the government body wants these details from April 2011 to March 2019.
The report stated that the companies in question were given two weeks to respond to the letter with relevant details. This limit was put in because the “ongoing investigation is ‘time-bound’”. CCI started the investigation after complaints that Google was blocking other operating systems from entering the Indian market. The company executives will likely be called to appear before CCI as part of the inquiry.
Not the first CCI Google Probe
This investigation comes about a year after CCI issued a Rs 136 crore fine on Google India last year for search bias. CCI reached this verdict after investigating complaints about search bias while abusing its dominant position. It is also the second fine a regulator has slapped after the $5 billion fine EU fine. According to the EU investigation, Google was bundling its search engine and Google Chrome app in the smartphone, and more. Talking about more, Google blocked smartphone makers from using any forked version of Android, and more.