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CCI orders probe against Google in Play Store pricing policy

CCI orders probe against Google in Play Store pricing policy

New Delhi: The CCI, a fair trade regulator, issued an investigation order against Google on Friday for allegedly engaging in anti-competitive behaviour regarding its Play Store pricing policy.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI), which made the decision, stated that the informants are primarily upset about Google's revised payment practices regarding its in-house app store, Google Play Store, which they claim violates competition laws.

The order also comes less than two weeks after Google removed some apps from the Play Store over payment issues. On March 1, Google removed some apps from its Play Store in India over a dispute on service fee payments and a few days later, it reinstated the apps in the wake of the government criticism.

The informants are -- Anupam Mittal's People Interactive India Pvt Ltd, Mebigo Labs Pvt Ltd, Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) and the Indian Digital Media Industry Foundation (IDMIF).

It is also alleged that the payment policies are stated to be impacting several stakeholders, including app developers, payment processors, and users alike.

The watchdog has ordered the probe after prima-facie finding that Google has violated Section 4 of the Competition Act that pertains to abuse of dominant position.

In its 21-page order, the regulator stated that Google has claimed that the service fee has been charged for a multitude of services provided by Play Store to app developers.

If the fee is for the services rendered to app developers, then the reasoning given by Google does not appear to be reasonable, the watchdog noted.

Further, it said the issue assumes importance in view of the fact that various physical delivery apps are very large in size and yet do not contribute towards recoupment of Google's investment in Play Store (as claimed by Google).

"Extending this further, it is not clear as to why consumption-only apps have been allowed relaxation when their content is consumed within the app. On the whole, the applicability of service fee seems to be arbitrary and discriminatory," the CCI said.

People Interactive India operates online matchmaking classified services and, Mebigo Labs owns the brand 'Kuku FM', IBDF is an organisation that works towards the interests of the Indian television and the digital media industries, and IDMIF is a subsidiary of IBDF.

With PTI inputs

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