The European Commission found that Google had abused its market dominance since 2011, forcing manufacturers to pre-install Google Search, Chrome Browser and Google Play App Store on Android devices.
"Google's investigation in India is roughly similar to that in Europe, but at an early stage," people familiar with the matter said. The Indian Competition Commission's investigation into Google's allegations has never been reported before. Google declined to comment. CCI has not commented yet.
In recent months, Google executives have met with Indian antitrust officials at least once to discuss the complaint, according to people familiar with the matter. The complaint was brought by a group of people. The Indian Competition Commission may ask its investigative authorities to further investigate the allegations against Google, which will be rejected if there is no basis. Historically, investigations by the Indian Competition Commission have often taken years to complete.
Google gives Android to device manufacturers for free, and the system accounts for about 85% of the global smartphone market. Counterpoint Research estimates that 98% of smartphones sold in India in 2018 will use Android.
Last October, Google said it would charge smartphone manufacturers for using its popular Google Play store and allow them to use other versions of Android to comply with EU orders. However, this adjustment only covers the EEA, namely the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
"In the case of the European Union, it is very difficult for the Indian Competition Commission not to launch a formal investigation into Google unless Google can prove that the problem has been solved," said a source.
The survey is the latest regulatory hurdle Google faces in India, a key growth market. Last year, Indian antitrust agencies fined Google 1.36 billion rupees ($19 million) for "search bias" and abuse of dominance. Indian antitrust agencies also found that Google placed its commercial flight search function prominently on the search results page. Google also appealed the ruling, arguing that it caused "irreparable" damage and reputation damage to the company.