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Google faces yet another antitrust tussle - this time over smart TVs

(Image credit: Google)
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Google falling afoul of antitrust laws is not exactly new. It has been happening in the US. It happened in India, too. And it is repeating now as Google is now accused of abusing its dominant position in the Android smart-television market by creating barriers for companies which wanted to use or modify its android operating systems for their smart televisions.

The complaint, filed by two lawyers, Kshitiz Arya and Purushottam Anand, is now with the Indian antitrust watchdog, the Competition Commission of India (CCI). The antitrust commission has asked Google to reply to the charges, while the company has apparently asked for more time to come up with its response.  

The CCI, if it finds merit in the case, can order a bigger investigation into the case.

Xiaomi, TCL are parties to the case

The two antitrust lawyers say that Google prevents companies it partners with from using both Android and a modified version of it on different devices. What this in reality means is that companies like Xiaomi and TCL, who have been named parties in the case, which use Android platform for their smartphones, must also use Android for their smart TVs.

Google’s terms and conditions also mandate that if a company uses the Amazon Fire TV platform for its smart TVs, it cannot offer Play Store and Google apps on its smartphones. 

Market data has it that three in five TVs sold in India are based on the Android TV platform, while on the smartphone segment, Android has over 90% market share.

Media reports, quoting government sources, say the case is at a preliminary stage as the members and chairperson of the CCI have not yet reviewed the allegations or ordered any investigation.

Antitrust cases against Google in India

The CCI had fined the company $18.5 million in 2018 for abusing its dominance with Google Search.

In May, the anti-competition body also looked into whether Google abused its market position to promote its mobile payments app.

In June last year, the CCI had held Google guilty of misuse of its dominant position in the mobile android market and said the company had imposed “unfair conditions” on the device manufacturers so as to prevent them from using other operating systems. 

Balakumar K

Over three decades as a journalist covering current affairs, politics, sports and now technology. Former Editor of News Today, writer of humour columns across publications and a hardcore cricket and cinema enthusiast. He writes about technology trends and suggest movies and shows to watch on OTT platforms.