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Google changes India app store policy after CCI order –

NEW DELHI: Google has started to make changes to its policy dealing with apps and digital ecosystem, after it failed to get any immediate relief from the courts against the CCI order, which found it abusing dominance and engaging in anti-competitive practices in India.
Now, the US tech giant will allow smartphone makers to license its apps individually, instead of the entire bouquet. It will also allow users to choose a default search engine, instead of only Google search. The move is being seen as a massive climbdown by Google, though a section of competing Indian app makers such as MapmyIndia are still demanding more clarity.
Google was slapped with a fine of Rs 1,338 crore for abusing dominance through its ubiquitous Android operating system, while being asked to cough up another Rs 936 crore in a case related to its Play Store policies. It is now making the changes after it failed to get any reprieve from the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) and the Supreme Court.
“We take our commitment to comply with local laws and regulations in India seriously. The CCI’s recent directives for Android and Play require us to make significant changes for India, and today we’ve informed the CCI of how we will be complying with their directives,” Google said.
“OEMs (such as smartphone manufacturers) will be able to license individual Google apps for pre-installation on their devices,” it said, giving relief to a clause that generally mandated companies to opt for the entire suite of Google’s services.
In a decision that will give more choice to consumers to explore competing apps on the Android Play Store, it said users will be able to customise their devices to suit their preferences. “Indian users will now have the option to choose their default search engine via a choice screen that will soon start to appear when a user sets up a new Android smartphone or tablet in India.”
It also said that 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 said it’s updating the Android compatibility requirements to introduce changes for partners to build non-compatible or forked variants.
However, Indian rivals demanded more. “It is unfortunate that rather than comply fully in letter, in spirit, and in time, with orders of the apex court of India, Google is still attempting to dilute and delay the outcome of the CCI investigation and directives,” Rohan Verma, CEO of MapmyIndia, which has a competing product to Google Maps app, told TOI.
“For example, why is Google not allowing users to uninstall Google Maps and its other apps? Google allows users to uninstall all other apps. Similarly, why is Google not allowing other app stores to be distributed through Google Play Store despite CCI’s directives to do so?” Verma said.