Google will allow Android app and game developers in India to use third-party payment methods starting next month as part of a decision by the country’s antitrust authority. The tech giant will also give users the ability to choose their default search engine when setting up a new Android phone or tablet for the first time.
Last October, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) fined Google $162 million “Abuse of a dominant position in multiple markets in the Android mobile ecosystem”. The CCI has also introduced a set of guidelines to ensure Android users have the right to choose their own search engine and remove pre-installed Google apps like Google Maps.
Under these rules, Google is forced to allow smartphone manufacturers “License each Google app individually to preinstall on devices and to create own software branches (forks) and incompatible variants”. “We take compliance with local laws and regulations in India seriously, Google says in a statement. — The recent Competition Commission of India (CCI) guidelines for Android and Play require us to make significant changes for India and today we informed CCI how we will comply with their guidelines.”.
Google had previously tried in vain to block the IHK decision on the grounds “The tremendous strides in ecosystem growth of device makers, app developers and users are on the verge of stalling due to corrective actions.” As a result, the company will continue “Respectfully question certain aspects of IHK decisions”.
Around the world, Google is facing a global review of its in-app payment policies. Last year, the company had to launch a pilot version of User Choice Billing in India, a program that allows developers of non-gaming applications to use third-party payment methods. Antitrust authorities in the European Union, India, Japan, Indonesia and Australia have already received such approvals from Google.
In November, Google also rolled out User Choice Billing in the US, where the company faced legal challenges. On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of monopoly power in the digital advertising market. In response, the company stated that the lawsuit “Ignore the huge competition in the online advertising industry”.