Indian government to order smartphone makers to allow removal of pre-installed apps: Report

The move is expected to impact mostly Chinese OEMs that corner a large chunk of the market.

  • A new report reveals Indian government’s plan to crackdown on OEMs
  • The government is looking to allow removal of pre-installed apps
  • It will also look to ramp up screening of mobile OSes

The Indian government is reportedly planning to ramp up scrutiny around mobile operating systems and pre-installed apps from OEMs in the smartphone market. In a big jolt to OEMs like Vivo, Realme, and Xiaomi who make a good chunk of revenues from pre-installed app partnerships, the government is looking to bring in policies that allow for removal of the same, apart from other screening of OS features.

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Government’s crackdown on pre-installed apps

As per a report by Reuters, a new move by the Indian government could delay smartphone launch timelines and send the major OEMs running for compliance. The report reveals India’s IT Ministry is setting up an order to mandate smartphone makers to allow removal of all pre-installed apps on their devices. It is also expected to introduce screening of mobile software before the devices are brought into the market.

According to the Reuters report, these rules come in the wake of the government’s crackdown on data abuse and spying allegations using smartphones and other mobile devices. Focusing on border countries like China, companies from where have a substantial share in the Indian mobile market, an official is said to have told Reuters, “Pre-installed apps can be a weak security point and we want to ensure no foreign nations, including China, are exploiting it. It’s a matter of national security.”

Impact on Chinese OEMs

This move could impact the likes of Xiaomi and Realme, both of which control a combined 26 percent market share in India. While Samsung could be impacted too, Chinese phone makers are especially known for their extensive partnerships with app makers to cover lost revenues from lowering smartphone margins. Additionally, with a special focus on China as suggested by government officials, these companies could be made to employ stricter compliances.

Currently, almost every major OEM bundles certain pre-installed apps that cannot be removed from the smartphone. Whether it is Apple’s Safari browser, Samsung’s Samsung Pay mini, or Xiaomi’s GetApps app store, the new order could mean Indian smartphone owners will now get the ability to delete these from their devices.

This move comes as part of Indian government’s extended crackdown on pre-installed apps. To recall, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) had fined Google of Rs 1,337 crores for pre-installing Google Search, Chrome, and YouTube on Android among other charges.