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India OKs Google’s Investment In Jio Platforms

Google has won a green light from India’s competition watchdog for its plans to purchase a significant stake in Jio Platforms, the nation’s largest telecom.

In a Wednesday (Nov. 11) tweet, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) announced its decision to approve Google’s $4.5 billion investment.

Under terms of the deal, Google will acquire a 7.73 percent ownership stake in Jio, with plans to also team up to build low-cost, affordable Android smartphones aimed at hundreds of millions of potential users at the lower end of the market in India.

Google’s interest in Jio — and in India’s emerging market for consumer technology — is no surprise given the country’s explosive growth.

Millions of people across the country are using the internet for the first time, PYMNTS noted in a recent report, with Jio having built up a user base for its wireless network of nearly 400 million.

Indian consumers are increasingly going online to buy products, watch videos and download music.

However, the move also comes just a few days after India’s antitrust regulator lowered the boom on Google and unveiled an investigation on claims that tech giant is abusing its market power to promote its payments service.

In particular, the CCI said this week it is investigating whether Google is unfairly pushing its payments service during the installation process for Android phones, as well as whether phone vendors have a choice in the matter.

The Indian antitrust watchdog contends the search giant appears to have taken a page from Apple, requiring app developers to use Google Play’s payment system and its in-app billing service to charge users. And in exchange for being allowed to use Google Play’s payment system, app developers are required to pay a 30 percent commission, Indian antitrust regulators said.

“The informant has also averred that Google enjoys a dominant position in the relevant market(s) for licensable mobile OS for smart mobile devices in India, and the market for app stores for Android mobile OS in India,” the complaint notes. “Due to Google’s dominance in the markets for the licensing of mobile OS and app stores for Android OS, Google has become the de facto gateway to Android smartphones.”

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