‘Google is bluntly executing unfair, coercive, and monopolistic trade practices in Indian market’.
New Delhi: The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector in India is reeling under “extra” financial stress as Google has updated its usage terms for business in India, forcing these enterprises to shell out at least four times more than what they were having to pay just six months ago. This policy update is being termed as “coercive, unfair and monopolistic” trade practices by the sector, which otherwise was on a path to recovery from the losses faced because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Google’s updated “usage policy for Business”, for subscription to Google for their emails and data storage, each enterprise will now have to compulsorily subscribe to 2 TeraByte (TB) data storage plan once the basic subscription for 30 GB storage capacity is exhausted.
Not only this, MSMEs say that unlike the earlier policy, where enterprises had the option to choose storage for a select number of employees, Google now has made it compulsory to select 2TB of storage for each employee once the basic 30 GB storage is exhausted by the enterprise, increasing the financial burden by four times for this sector.
Vishal Shah, co-founder and CEO of Synersoft technologies Pvt Ltd, has written an open letter to Google and also to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Competition Commission of India, the Ministry of Finance and to the Ministry of MSME, seeking their intervention to help the sector. In his letter, Shah wrote, “Google is bluntly executing unfair, coercive, and monopolistic trade practices in Indian markets, ironically harming the Indian MSMEs, most of which are on their path to recovery. Such an arbitrary policy change will force the Indian MSMEs to pay an additional Rs 1,500 crore to Rs 5,000 crore yearly. The net present value of such additional yearly outflow could be between Rs 15,000 crore to Rs 50,000 crore.”
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Shah further explained how this new policy change by Google is going to hurt the Indian MSME sector. He said, “Let me explain the problem and why I state it is unfair, coercive, and monopolistic. It is about specific policy changes pertaining to Google Workspace, formerly G-Suite. Let’s assume that I am an MSME owner having 50 computer users. I have taken a G-Suite Basic 30 GB storage space for each team member for the last four years and paying Rs 125,000 annually (Rs 2,500 per user annually). In due course of time, two of my senior colleagues and I required more storage space, Google gave us 100 GB of additional storage space for Rs 1,300 per year per user. So, three of us have 130 GB storage each for Rs 3,800 per user per year and the rest of the 47 users have 30 GB storage each. My total yearly outflow is Rs 128,900. All my data is on Google Cloud, and my business communication is on Google. In a nutshell, I am critically dependent on Google.”
“Then Google announced rebranding G-Suite to Google Workspace with specific policy changes. We are informed that an additional 100 GB storage is no longer available. One must upgrade to the ‘Business Standard’ category, which has a minimum storage of 2 TB and costs Rs 10,100 per year per user. They also declared that if you need more than 30 GB storage in a single account, you must upgrade all the accounts to 2 TB storage. So now, because I need 130 GB for a few users, I am forced to upgrade all 50 accounts to a 2 TB storage at a 400% higher price. It works out to be a yearly outflow of Rs 505,000 from Rs 128,900. This is unfair,” Shah added.
Shah further told this correspondent that Google knows that all the users in an enterprise would not be requiring 2 TB storage space and, therefore, despite charging for that much storage, Google would not be required to create such a large infrastructure for data storage.
After Shah raised this concern, social media was abuzz with several MSMEs speaking up against Google’s “arbitrary” policy. Many MSMEs have also complained how Google has changed its “exit barrier” policy, wherein if an enterprise would like to move out of the Google service due to the high cost, Google will not allow to shift the entire data of the enterprise on a single day, but rather slowly and with limited bandwidth.
Raghunandan Jagdish, CEO of Nandan GSE Pvt Ltd, wrote on social media that he had to migrate his 35 users, but Google had “suddenly” restricted the email access to his employers, forcing him to shell out Rs 350,000 as against Rs 75,000 that he was earlier paying to Google for the same service.
The Sunday Guardian reached out to Google for a response to this report, however, queries from this newspaper did not elicit any response till the time of going to press.