Startups in India celebrated Thursday’s Supreme Court decision to uphold an antitrust order that requires Google to alter how it manages its widely used Android platform. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) had mandated Google to make a series of changes, such as refraining from agreements that guarantee exclusivity of its search services and mandatory pre-installation of its apps. It also directed Google to permit third-party app stores to be housed within its Play Store. The Supreme Court’s rejection of Google’s plea to block the antitrust directives was a major setback for the Alphabet Inc. unit. Google must now comply with the order within seven days.
Rohan Verma, CEO of maps service MapmyIndia, which released an app in 2004, said his product hadn’t been able to gain market share over the years due to Google Maps being pre-installed on many Android phones. The CCI order states Google can no longer impose such requirements. “We are elated,” said Verma. “There was negative impact over the years, we hope now consumers and device makers use our app more.” According to Counterpoint Research estimates, around 97% of 600 million smartphone devices in India run on Android, while Apple holds a 3% share.
Google licenses the Android system to smartphone makers, claiming it provides more choice for everyone and agreements it strikes – which critics say are anti-competitive – help keep the operating system free and open-source. Rakesh Deshmukh, CEO of Indus OS, which runs a rival app store to Google’s, declared Thursday’s ruling a “watershed moment”, noting that allowing other app stores within the U.S. firm’s Play Store in India would give customers more options and promote use of apps.
Naval Chopra, a lawyer at India’s Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, which has challenged Google in courts in the past, said Thursday’s court decision was a landmark one. “This is a landmark decision in the history of competition law in India and globally,” he said, adding the CCI directives “may well lead to a new Indian competitor in video hosting, mapping, web browsers or, dare we say it, search.” (This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)