Google makes changes in Android policy, lets users choose search engine

After failing to get a court order to block an antitrust ruling, Google on Wednesday said that it would allow users in India to choose default search engine on Android-based smartphones. 

Last week, the Supreme Court had refused a stay a Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) order, slapping a Rs 1,337.76 crore fine on Google for exploiting its dominant position of its popular Android operating system, which powers 97 per cent of around 60 crore smartphones in India. 

The CCI had imposed another Rs 936-crore penalty on the US tech giant in a case related to its Play Store policies. 

“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 in a blog. 

The changes include allowing original equipment manufacturers or smartphone-makers the liberty to license individual Google apps for pre-installation on their devices. 

“Android users have always been able to customise their devices to suit their preferences,” it said. “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.” Google licenses its Android system to smartphone-makers with conditions such as mandatory pre-installation of its own apps. This condition was seen as anti-competitive. But the company argues that such agreements help keep Android free. 

In October last year, the CCI had in its order said that licensing of Google’s Play Store “shall not be linked with the requirement of pre-installing” Google search services, the Chrome browser, YouTube or any other Google applications. 

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