Google will continue to challenge the Indian antitrust watchdog's ruling but will cooperate with the authorities "on the way forward," it said Friday, responding to a high-profile decision by the top Indian court this week that is cornering the Android-maker into making a series of changes that could topple how it conducts business in the key overseas market.
India’s Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Google's plea to block an antitrust order, instead giving the Android-maker just one additional week to comply with the Competition Commission of India's directions.
The matter will now go back to the country’s appellate tribunal, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), where Google previously failed to secure any relief. The Supreme Court has directed NCLAT to make its decision by March 31.
As TechCrunch wrote on Thursday, the challenge for Google is that unless NCLAT reaches a decision in Google’s favor by this month, the tech giant will have to make a series of changes to its business practices in India.
The CCI has ordered Google to not require licensing of its Play Store to be linked with mandating installation of several Google apps such as Chrome and YouTube. The watchdog has also ordered Google to allow removal of all its apps from phones and give smartphone users the ability to change their search engine provider.
The CCI also fined Google $162 million in its first order.
"We are reviewing the details of yesterday’s decision which is limited to interim relief and did not decide the merits of our appeal," a Google spokesperson told TechCrunch.
"Android has greatly benefited Indian users, developers and OEMs and played a key role in India’s digital transformation. We remain committed to our users and partners and will cooperate with the CCI on the way forward, in parallel with our appeal."
India is Google’s largest market by users. The firm, which has ploughed more than $10 billion into India over the past decade, has amassed over half a billion monthly active users in the country. The vast majority of the smartphones in India run Android.
Google warned earlier this month that if the Indian antitrust watchdog’s ruling is allowed to progress it would result in devices getting expensive in the South Asian market and lead to a proliferation of unchecked apps that will pose threats for individual and national security.
Many Indian startups that compete with Google's services welcomed the Supreme Court's decision. Rohan Verma, chief executive of MapmyIndia, said he was "elated" by the decision, noting that Google requiring smartphone vendors to pre-install Google Maps had hurt MapmyIndia's business outlook.
Rakesh Deshmukh, chief executive of Indus OS, an Android marketplace, called the court's order a "watershed moment."