Google LLC (Google) announced on December 16, 2019, that it has canceled its license of Android phones in Turkey. The new Android devices now will be sold in Turkey without Google’s applications and services.
Google’s decision was a response against the investigation conducted by the Turkish telecom regulator which claimed that Google had violated the regulation laws in the country.
Reasons for Canceling License
Google has been in dispute after the Turkish’s Competition Authority (TCA), a Government regulatory authority, imposed around $ 17.4 million in the charge of the violation of local regulation laws in 2018. The regulator started its investigation against the company after a complaint lodged by its rival company, Yandex N.V. in 2017.
As per the TCA’s report, “The initial probe examined Google’s contracts mobile communications systems, applications, and provision of services.” After the investigation, it was found that Google had violated laws; thereby, the regulator announced to conduct a wider investigation on Google’s related companies including Google International LLC, Google LLC, Google Ireland Limited, Alphabet Inc., and Reklamcılık ve Pazarlama Ltd.
According to a TCA preliminary investigation, “Google had abused its dominant position in the search engine and advertising market by putting its own local search service forward and making the efforts of other companies difficult.”
The TCA, subsequently, imposed a heavy fine against the company in September 2018 and warned Google to solve the issues in six months. Google had made several changes to its policies for the local business partners in August 2019 following the TCA’s guidelines.
As Google officials reported, it has already changed its contract to offer “even greater flexibility around how [its hardware partners] preload Google’s revenue-generating apps on their devices. However, the competition authority has said these do not go far enough, and has imposed an additional fine of 0.05% of Google’s revenue per day until the issue is resolved.”
Pressurizing Turkish Government
Google has informed its business partners regarding the canceling of licenses for new Android devices sold in Turkey. It means any new smartphones or tablets shipped to the country cannot access Google Play Store and are without apps such as Gmail and YouTube.
However, the new policy will not affect the current devices. According to Google’s officials, “Existing devices and apps will also continue to operate and receive updates as normal and Google’s other products and services remain unaffected.”
Google’s decision aimed at pressuring the concerning authorities and telecom regulators of Turkey to withdraw the imposition of fines against the company. According to Reuters, “Google is working with Turkey’s competition watchdog to resolve the situation and has asked its business partners to pressure the country’s trade minister and competition authority to reconsider their stance.”
In the view of the existing deadlock between Google and the Turkish regulators, Google explained the situation, “We understand that this creates difficulties for consumers, manufacturers, app developers and carriers in Turkey, and expect to reach a resolution with the TCA soon.”
According to Holger Mueller, an analyst of Constellation Research Inc., “this was another example of how consumers suffer the most when innovation gets into the crosshairs of regulators.” Mueller continued, “We can’t judge the merit of the Turkish antitrust ruling as we don’t know the workaround Google aimed for. From a technical standpoint, it’s important to note that software makers only have a certain window to accommodate legislative changes.”
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