Fee dispute: CCI to probe Google’s app billing policy – Times of India

by The Technical Blogs


MUMBAI: The Competition Commission of India on Friday ordered a probe into Google’s Play Store billing policy, which has been at the centre of the tech giant’s dispute with local app developers who claim that it is discriminatory in nature.
In its 21 page order, the fair trade regulator observed that the revenue distribution model within Play Store appears to be skewed in favour of Google, with app developers potentially facing substantial costs. TOI has reviewed a copy of the order. The CCI said that it is of the view that prima facie, Google has imposed unfair price in violation of the Competition Act which warrants a detailed investigation. It has directed the Director General to complete the investigation and submit a consolidated investigation report within 60 days.
The CCI’s recent order came in response to fresh complaints filed by People Interactive India which runs Shaadi.com, Mebigo Labs which owns Kuku FM, Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation and Indian Digital Media Industry Foundation.
In a statement, Google said that it is examining CCI’s order. “The CCI had previously examined our service fee in detail between 2020 and 2022 and found no illegality. However, we take our commitment to comply with local laws and regulations in India seriously and will cooperate with the process in every way,” the company said.
“Service fee charged by Google has been alleged to be excessive in nature and by requiring the app developers to pay such excessive service fee for processing payments through GPBS (Google Play Billing System) as well as ABS (Alternative Billing Systems) under UCB (User Choice Billing), Google is alleged to be imposing an unfair price…. It has been inter alia claimed by the Informants that, the service fee /commission charged by Google bears no reasonable relation to the services Google is offering in exchange for the fee,” the CCI observed.
Google’s commission is significantly higher than that charged by its competitors for similar services (most of whom charge 0% for such services), it observed.
Earlier this month, Google had delisted a clutch of Indian apps from the Play Store including Shaadi.com and Info Edge’s Naukri.com for not complying with its in-app payment and billing policy. The apps were reinstated only following govt’s intervention. The dispute of the tech giant with the companies is over Google imposing a fee of 11-26% on in-app payments.


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