In a major setback to Google, the Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) fine of Rs 1337 crore on the tech giant. The company had sought a stay on the fine through an appeal with the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) which the SC court refused to address.
The Apex court has instead asked the company to deposit 10 per cent of the fine amounting to Rs 133.7 crore within a week. The fine was imposed on Google by the regulatory agency over its anti-competitive policy related to Android smartphones that restricted other players from entering the Indian market. The SC decision triggered a wide range of reactions.
Indian tech company MapmyIndia that specializes in building digital maps said that it was elated and grateful to the SC’s order against Google’s appeal. The CEO of the company Rohan Verma said that Mapmy India pioneered digital mapping in India much before the pre-installed Google Maps. Verma said that following the order he was optimistic that more indigenous apps would now find their way to Indian consumers.
“Today onwards, we truly hope, appeal and call upon consumers and OEMs to try and use MapmyIndia’s Mappls app, which offers far better maps, navigation and safety features than Google Maps. So far it remained obscured from Indian consumers due to Google’s anti-competitive practices. Today marks one very critical step towards India breaking free from the digital slavery Google has perpetuated on Indians for the last 15 years, and it is the right moment for all Indians to create our own indigenous ecosystem that gives India its rightful place at the forefront of the world, independent of foreign big tech monopolies,” said Verma.
“A watershed moment in India’s digital history”
Indus OS is a home-grown mobile platform, which has its own Android-based app store – Indus App Bazaar. The company has called the development a watershed moment in the history of India’s digital transformation. The CEO of the company Rakesh Deshmukh said that he was glad that millions of users will now have a choice to experience their app store, without any restrictions.
“We strongly believe that this decision will usher in a cataclysmic change in the Indian smartphone ecosystem and further improve and enhance digital penetration in our country. We are glad that millions of Indian users will now have a choice to experience our app store, without any restrictions. Indus OS has been working on its app store for over a decade now and has been tailor-made to meet the preferences of Indian consumers,” said Deshmukh.
Meanwhile, Naval Chopra, partner, Competition Law Practice at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, echoed a similar sentiment. Chopra called the order a landmark decision in the history of competition law jurisprudence in India and globally. He said that India as a market offers an untapped user base which makes decisions like these more effective. The CCI order upheld by SC will aid Android in staying true to its mission of providing an open source, free, software away from Google’s restriction.
More scope for Indian players
“CCI’s reasoning has been considered by the SC which has held that there is no reason to interfere with the CCI order at the interim stage. The CCI’s wide ranging remedies go beyond Europe and will force Google to change the way it does business. It will open markets for Google’s competitors, who have long been marginalized by the tech behemoth’s vice-like grip over the Android ecosystem. India as a market offers an unprecedented untapped user base, which makes these remedies even more effective. These may well lead to a new Indian competitor in video hosting, mapping, web browsers or, dare we say it, search,” said Chopra.
Several social media users also took their accounts to share their thoughts on the development. Raja M, a cybersecurity specialist, took to his LinkedIn account to say that Google has already dealt a major blow in one of its key markets. “India’s top court rejects Google’s plea to block Android antitrust ruling. Google has dealt a significant blow in one of its key overseas markets,” posted Raja.
Google, which had filed an appeal with the NCLAT against the order had earlier said that CCI recommendations would lead to devices getting expensive in India. It also highlights how the proliferation of unchecked apps can cause a threat to users and national security. Google had also argued in its blog that the CCI order which asked it to allow different versions of Android would potentially cause more damage.