India fines Google $113 million for abusing the Play Store's dominance

An antitrust regulator ordered the company to allow Play Store developers to use third-party payment services.

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Google is on the hook for another nine-figure fine after India’s antitrust agency said the company abused the dominant position of the Play Store. The regulator told Google to pay 9.36 billion rupees ($113.5 million) and to allow Play Store developers to use third-party payment systems for app and in-app purchases.

After a lengthy investigation, the Competition Commission of India said Google's requirement for Play Store developers to use its billing system “constitutes an imposition of unfair condition,” as TechCrunch reports. The regulator found that Google didn't use the billing system for its own apps, which it said constituted an “imposition of discriminatory conditions.”

The agency has ordered Google to open up the Play Store to third-party payments within three months. It said Google can't impose any anti-steering provisions on app developers and mustn't hinder them from promoting apps and services to users. Likewise, the company can't restrict users from accessing developers' services and features.

The Competition Commission also stated that Google must be fully transparent with Play Store developers and that it can't impose any condition on them "which is unfair, unreasonable, discriminatory or disproportionate to the services provided to the app developers." Furthermore, Google will need to have a clear and transparent data collection policy, and it will not be allowed to use "competitively relevant transaction/consumer data of apps generated and acquired" through the Google Play Billing System to its competitive advantage.

The regulator has determined that Google has a dominant position in the spheres of licensable smartphone operating systems, app stores, web searching, video hosting platforms and "non-OS specific" mobile web browsers. Last week, the Competition Commission fined the company $161.9 million after finding that Google abused Android's dominance. It said smartphone makers shouldn't have to preinstall Google's apps and that the company shouldn't withhold Play Services APIs and monetary and other incentives from other parties.

Google reportedly has a 97 percent smartphone market share in India, while Google Play is one of the most popular payments services. India is the company's largest market in terms of user numbers. Google told TechCrunch that its legal team was reviewing the most recent ruling.