Startups In India Pledge To Fight Google’s Dominance

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As the Department of Justice (DOJ) prepares a potential antitrust lawsuit against Google, dozens of India’s technology startups are considering ways to challenge the Mountain View, California-based tech giant’s dominance, Reuters reported, citing sources.

While critics acknowledge Google, owned by its parent company, Alphabet, has supported India’s startups and increased its investments, tech companies say they are frustrated with what they insist are Google’s unfair business practices, Reuters reported.

“It’s definitely going to be a bitter fight,” Dinesh Agarwal, CEO of IndiaMART, which calls itself India’s largest eCommerce marketplace, told Reuters. “Google will lose this battle. It’s just a matter of time.”

Startups said they plan to lodge complaints in court and with government regulators. To prepare for the assault, entrepreneurs held two video conferences last week to devise a strategy, three executives told Reuters. One of the items on the agenda was a suggestion to launch a startup trade group whose mission would be to protest Google to the Indian government and file lawsuits.

For example, they said nearly 99 percent of the smartphones of India’s 500 million users operate on Google’s Android mobile operating system. The result, they alleged, is Google exerts too much control over apps and other services they can offer, Reuters reported.

Google has denied the allegation, according to Reuters.

The brawl had its beginning last month when Google removed Paytm, an eCommerce payment system based in Noida, India, from its Play Store, citing policy violations by the app. That was followed by criticism from Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm’s founder. The app was returned to the Google platform a few hours later, after Paytm made some adjustments.

“If we together don’t do anything, then history will not be kind to us,” Sharma said in a video call with other companies, according to Reuters. “We have to control our digital destiny.”

He urged the roughly 50 executives on the call to join hands to “stop this tsunami” and called Google the “big daddy” that controls the “oxygen supply of [app] distribution” on Android phones, according to an attendee, Reuters reported.

Google declined to comment to Reuters. It has said its policies protect Android users and that it applies and enforces them consistently on developers.

After months of investigations into Google’s alleged violation of antitrust laws, the DOJ is expected to bring a lawsuit as early as this week. When the government’s case against Google reaches a courtroom, prosecutors are expected to focus on the multinational technology conglomerate’s power over internet searches. The complaint is expected to accuse the world’s dominant search engine of hurting competitors.

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