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India approves Google's $4.5 billion deal with Reliance Jio Platforms

As part of the deal, Google and Jio Platforms plan to collaborate on developing a customized version of the Android mobile operating system to build low-cost, entry-level smartphones.

Ola Olaoluwa
Ola Olaoluwa

Techcrunch reports that India’s antitrust watchdog has approved Google’s  proposed investment of $4.5 billion in the nation’s largest telecom platform Jio Platforms, it said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Google announced in July that it would be investing $4.5 billion for a 7.73% stake in the top Indian telecom network. As part of the deal, Google and Jio Platforms plan to collaborate on developing a customized-version of the Android mobile operating system to build low-cost, entry-level smartphones to serve the next hundreds of millions of users, the two companies said.

Google CEO, Sundar Pichai. Image Source: CNBC

Jio Platforms is planning to launch as many as 200 million smartphones in the next three years, according to a pitch the telecom giant has made to several developers. These smartphones, as is the case with nearly 40 million of Jio’s feature phones in circulation today, will have an app store with only a few dozen apps, all vetted and approved by Jio, according to one developer who was pitched by Jio Platforms. An industry executive described Jio’s store as a walled garden.

The Indian watchdog, Competition Commission of India (CCI), was said to be interested in reviewing the data-sharing agreement between Google and Jio, Indian newspaper Economic Times reported last month, citing an unidentified source.

The announcement today comes days after the CCI announced it had directed an in-depth investigation into Google to verify the allegations of whether the Android-maker promotes its payments service during the installation of an Android smartphone (and whether phone vendors have a choice to avoid this); and if Google Play Store’s billing system is designed “to the disadvantage of both i.e. apps facilitating payment through UPI, as well as users.”

The call for this in-depth investigation was prompted after the CCI concluded in its initial review that requiring Google Pay to be used to buy apps or make in-app payments was an “imposition of unfair and discriminatory condition, denial of market access for competing apps of Google Pay and leveraging on the part of Google,” the watchdog said.

India In Focus:

Population: 1.366 billion (Compared to South Africa's 59.6 million)

GDP: $2.875 trillion (Compared to South Africa's $369.85 billion)

GDP Per Capita: $2,130 (Compared to South Africa's $6,193)

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Ola Olaoluwa

Writer | Economist | Actor | Fashion Entrepreneur