By Munsif Vengattil and Aditya Kalra
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Google was shocked after India’s antitrust authorities called for changes to how it sells the Android system, which powers 97% of smartphones in the world’s second-largest mobile market.
As the Jan. 19 deadline approaches, US companies have asked the Supreme Court to suspend the Competition Commission of India (CCI) order, arguing it risks stalling the growth of the Android ecosystem in India. I’m here.
Google licenses the system to smartphone makers, but its restrictions have been criticized for being anti-competitive. The US company says Android will give everyone more choice and such pacts will help keep the operating system free.
Google says the CCI-mandated changes will bring about the most sweeping changes to the Android mobile platform in the last 14-15 years.
The agency’s 10 directives are:
*Google should not be allowed to license the Play Store for users to download mobile apps provided that the device manufacturer has pre-installed the Google apps such as YouTube, Gmail, Chrome browser, etc.
* Google should not force device manufacturers to pre-install or determine the placement of many apps.
* Google should refrain from entering into agreements guaranteeing exclusivity of search services on smart devices.
* Google shouldn’t restrict smartphone users from removing pre-installed things like Google Maps, Gmail, Youtube, etc. They currently come pre-installed and cannot be removed from Android phones.
* Google should allow users to choose which search engine to choose for all related services when first setting up the phone.
* Google should not ban the practice of “sideloading” or downloading apps outside of the app store in India.
* Google requires permission to host third-party app stores on Google’s Play Store.
* Competitors and app developers should not be denied access to the programming interfaces of Google Play Services, the underlying software system of Android devices. The directive aims to ensure compatibility between Play Store apps and third-party app stores based on Android variants, antitrust officials said.
* Google should not encourage or oblige manufacturers not to sell smart devices based on variants of Android.
* CCI asked Google not to restrict Android smartphone makers from developing other devices such as tablets and TVs based on modified versions of Android.
(Reporting by Munsif Vengattil and Aditya Kalra, New Delhi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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