Google and India

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Court/ tribunal rulings

2018/ Competition Commission of India fines Google Rs 135.86 crore for 'search bias'

February 8, 2018: Gadgets Now

India's antitrust watchdog, Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed a Rs 135.86 crore fine on Google for "search bias", in the latest regulatory setback for the world's most popular internet search engine. The CCI says that Google, a unit of US firm Alphabet Inc, was abusing its dominance in online web search and online search advertising markets.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found Google to have abused its dominant position in online general web search and web search advertising services in India. The order was passed in response to informations filed by Limited and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) in 2012," said the CCI.

The company will need to deposit the fine within 60 days, the commission said. It has been mentioned that the allegations against Google was in relation to the design of Search Engine Result Page (SERP). "CCI noted in its order that Google through its search design has not only placed its commercial flight unit at a prominent position on SERP, it has also allocated disproportionate real estate thereof to such units to the disadvantage of verticals trying to gain market access," added CCI.

Furthermore it was added that Google provided a link in certain commercial units which lead users to its specialized search result page (Google Flight). This resulted in unfair imposition upon the users of general search services as well.

"The CCI also noted in the order that ranking of Universal Results prior to 2010 were pre-determined to trigger at the 1st, 4th or 10th position on the SERP instead of by their relevance. Such practice of Google was unfair to the users and was found to be in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Act," said the Competition Commission of India.

Replying to the CCI's charges, a Google spokesperson said, "We have always focused on innovating to support the evolving needs of our users. The Competition Commission of India has confirmed that, on the majority of issues it examined, our conduct complies with Indian competition laws. We are reviewing the narrow concerns identified by the Commission and will assess our next steps."

2018, CCI: Google has search bias; prevents use of competing search services

Google says India anti-trust ruling could cause 'irreparable' harm, May 18, 2018: The Times of India


Competition Commission of India in February fined Google $20 million for abusing its position in online web search

Google says the ruling could cause “irreparable” harm and reputational loss to the company

Alphabet Inc’s Google has said an Indian anti-trust ruling that found it was guilty of search bias could cause “irreparable” harm and reputational loss to the company, according to a legal document reviewed by Reuters.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) in February fined Google $20 million for abusing its position in online web search and also slammed the company for preventing its partners from using competing search services.

After the ruling, Google had said the verdict raised only “narrow concerns”, but in its plea challenging the CCI’s ruling the search giant signalled the impact could be far greater.

The order, the company said, “requires Google to change the way it conducts business in India on a lasting basis and the way it designs its search results page in India”, according to a copy of its plea which was seen exclusively by Reuters.

The CCI, among other things, had ordered Google to stop imposing restrictions on its direct search agreements with other publishers.

Allowing the CCI’s findings to be implemented “without appellate scrutiny would cause Google irreparable reputational loss”, the company said, while seeking a stay on the ruling.

A Google spokesman in India declined to comment.

Google last month obtained a partial stay on the ruling from India’s company law tribunal, which allowed it to deposit only a small part of the imposed penalty.

The Indian anti-trust tussle is the latest regulatory setback for Google. Last year, the European Commission slapped a record $2.8 billion fine on the company for demoting rival offerings. Google has appealed against the order.

The anti-trust battle in India is set to intensify as local matchmaking website - which first brought the case in 2012 - has also appealed against the CCI ruling as it believes Google has gotten off too lightly.

On the issue of search agreements, the CCI in its Feb. 8 order said: “By restricting websites from partnering with competing search services, Google was denying its competitors access to the search business and further marginalizing competitors.”

The “volume of business generated through these agreements is substantial” for Google, the order said.

In its plea challenging the ruling, Google said the CCI wrongly ruled that such agreements violate Indian competition law.

“If Google is restricted from entering into certain types of contracts while the appellate review is conducted, Google will be irreparably harmed,” the company said in the plea, without elaborating.


2018/ Project Navlekha: to make online content relevant to Indian users in vernacular languages

Google Search feed to display English and Hindi news, August 28, 2018: The Hindu

Google said it is working to bring technology and product experiences which are locally relevant to users in India in vernacular languages.

“…the majority of Internet users today are Indian language users, a number expected to reach 500 million-plus in the next two years. [As much as] 95% of video consumption is in vernacular languages,” Rajan Anandan, vice-president, India and Southeast Asia said at an event here.

Indian content reach

With an aim to expand the reach of Indian content, the technology giant said it is working with the more than one lakh offline Indian language publishers on ‘Project Navlekha’, allowing them to start their website and publish on a branded domain.

Google Search feed will now also display users’ topics of interest and news, from both English and Hindi sources, the company said. “Search, to be truly helpful, it should bring you useful content in all the languages you understand,” Shashidhar Thakur, VP, engineering, Google Search said.

Further, Google said it had now integrated Marathi language, in addition to English and Hindi, with the Google Assistant. It has added seven more Indian languages to it. “India loves the Google Assistant. In fact, Google Assistant usage has tripled in India since last year,” the company said.

Stating that “building for India has often meant Google building for everyone all around the world,” Caesar Sengupta, VP, Next Billion Users initiative and Payments, Google said that payments app Tez had been rebranded as Google Pay. At the moment, nothing is changing about the experience in India other than the name,” he added.

Mr. Sengupta also announced that Google Station is partnering with Andhra Pradesh State FiberNet Limited to bring free public Wi-Fi to more than 12,000 villages, towns and cities in Andhra Pradesh. This will provide high-quality Internet access to potentially 10 million people., along with Google employees, will also be making a $1 million grant to several NGOs in India to support the relief and recovery efforts in the flood-affected regions in Kerala and Karnataka.

Play Store

2012-18: India tops in Play Store downloads

Rachel Chitra, India tops Google Play Store downloads in last 7 years, October 24, 2018: The Times of India

India saw 36.9 billion app downloads from Google Play Store between January 2012 and August 2018, the highest among all countries, according to mobile app analytics firm App Annie.

The study was done on the occasion of Google Play’s 10th anniversary.

Given that global downloads for the period were 330 billion, India accounted for 11.2% of the Google Play Store pie worldwide. The US was in second position with 35.1 billion downloads, followed by Brazil (25.2 billion), Russia

(15.9 billion), Indonesia (14.6 billion) and Mexico (12.7 billion). On an annual basis, India became the No. 1 downloader from Google Play Store in 2016. The US and Brazil were ahead of it prior to that.

The country is No. 2 when both Google Play Store and Apple iOS Store downloads are taken into account, with China leading in the combined number. India beat the US to take the second slot in 2017. China and the US are big Apple markets, unlike India.

However, Indians still don’t spend much money on apps — they prefer free apps and avoid in-app purchases. So, the country does not rank among the top 10 on app spends. Japan ranks the highest, spending a whopping $25.1 billion, followed by the US ($19.3 billion), South Korea ($11.2 billion), Germany ($3.1 billion) and Taiwan ($2.7 billion).

Indians are also more selective in app downloads and usage, may be because of lower phone storage capacities. With an average download of 62 apps on their mobiles and active use of 35 apps, Indians ranked 11th on this measure. Australians topped, installing on average as many as 103 apps and used 39 apps actively each month. They are followed by Americans, who install 102 apps and use 37 actively, and South Koreans, who install 100 apps and use 40 actively.

App Annie said the all-time most popular games globally were Subway Surfers, Candy Crush Saga, My Talking Tom, Pou, Temple Run 2 and Fruit Ninja. Among the most popular paid-for games were Puzzle & Dragons, Monster Strike, Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga, and Fate/ Grand Order. Pokemon Go came seventh in the ranking.

When it came to the top apps worldwide by download, Facebook held the No. 1 slot, followed by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Clean Master, UC Browser, Skype, Snapchat, SHAREit and Line. The top paid-for apps were LINE, Tinder, Pandora Music, LINE Manga, Netflix, KakaoTalk, LINE Play and HBO Now.

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