Google’s ownership and control of Android has paved the way for some important discussions concerning consumer rights and in the past, although the company’s grip on its prize product might be loosening a bit. As such, a recent ruling by the Indian government has essentially changed the course of how Google will go about handling Android in one of its largest markets.
More specifically, Google said it would be providing Indian users more freedom with how they can set up their Android device. For one, setting up a new Android-powered device will now let users choose their device’s default search engine before proceeding with the rest of the set-up.
Furthermore, software downloaded from Google Play will support third-party billing options, which essentially allows developers to bypass Google’s imposed fees regarding in-app purchases. Users will soon be able to uninstall first-party apps from their devices as well. As per Google’s statement in an official post:
“We take our commitment to comply with local laws and regulations in India seriously. The Competition Commission of India (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.”
This new development follows Google’s failed attempts in overturning a decision made by the Indian Supreme Court, ruling that the company unfairly used its dominant position in Android, subsequently ordering Google to remove restrictions imposed on device makers. Google was also fined an equivalent of $161 million in relation to this.
This isn’t the only hurdle that Google has faced recently – the United States Department of Justice is also suing the company, in a bid to break down the company’s advertising business, alleging that Google’s control over the Android and Play Store “has raised barriers to entry to artificially high levels, forced key competitors to abandon the market for ad tech tools, dissuaded potential competitors from joining the market, and left Google’s few remaining competitors marginalized and unfairly disadvantaged.”
This recent turn of events puts Google in an interesting position, having been made to follow legal rulings to allow for more freedom within Android and its app ecosystem. In a way, this does favor consumers in the long run, provided that this move on Google’s part to give users more leeway with proprietary software is enforced in more regions worldwide.