Google has argued before India's National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) that promoting its own apps cannot be considered as a method of foreclosing the market for competitors. The tech giant claimed that this was a simple marketing tactic and that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) was contradicting itself.
Google's counsel, Arun Kathpalia, raised questions over why the competition watchdog found pre-installation of Google apps anti-competitive when it had previously noted that users wanted such apps. Kathpalia noted that the commission had wrongly concluded that Google's "data advantage" foreclosed competition, citing the antitrust ruling, which according to Google, only "marginally" improves search results.
The hearing on Google's Android antitrust ruling case has now entered its seventh day, and the tech giant is expected to continue its arguments into the eighth day. The Additional Solicitor General of India, N Venkataraman, will commence arguments on behalf of CCI beginning March 2.
Google has argued that the CCI is yet to prove the existence of a "status quo bias" with regards to user behaviour on Google Chrome. The company has also claimed that the CCI plagiarised its Android antitrust ruling from a similar order issued by the European Commission in 2018 and that the CCI report was based on a flawed probe. The CCI, on the other hand, has accused Google of using its market dominance to stifle innovation and competition.
In 2020, Google faced two back-to-back penalties amounting to Rs 2,274 crore for employing anti-competitive practices in the Android devices market and with regards to its Play Store Policies.
The ongoing hearing is significant as it could determine Google's future in the Indian market, which is one of the world's largest smartphone markets. Google's Android operating system powers a significant number of smartphones in India, and the company's app store, Google Play, is the dominant app store in the country.