google: Google has got a smart TV ‘problem’ in India – Times of India
Tech giant Google has been facing a lot of heat over anti-trust issues. In Europe, an investigation has been opened against the company over its role in ‘unfairly’ dominating online advertising space. Now, India too has reportedly ordered an investigation against Google. According to a report by TechCrunch, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has said that Google has abused its dominant position of Android in the smart TV market.
What is Google being accused of?
CCI has said that brands have no choice but to install Google’s apps and have no other alternative but to use Android. In an order issued against Google, CCI said, “The Commission is of the prima facie opinion that by making pre-installation of Google’s proprietary apps (particularly Play Store) conditional upon signing of ACC (Android Compatibility Commitments) for all Android devices manufactured/distributed/marketed by device manufacturers, Google has reduced the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operating on alternative versions of Android i.e. Android forks, and thereby limited technical or scientific development relating to goods or services to the prejudice of consumers in contravention of Section 4(2)(b) of the Act.”
Other issues with Google’s ‘dominance’ in smart TVs
The CCI also said that because of ACC or Android Compatibility Commitments, other brands are unable to manufacture or sell any devices which operate on a rival Android OS. “Therefore, given the dominance of Google in the relevant markets and pronounced network effects, by virtue of this restriction, developers of such forked Android operating system are denied market access resulting in violation of Section 4(2)(c) of the Act,” noted CCI in the order.
Android TVs in India come with certain “must-have” apps and don’t have any alternative. To this, CCI said it “amounts to imposition of unfair condition on the smart TV device manufacturers and thereby in contravention of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Act.”
“It also amounts to prima facie leveraging of Google’s dominance in Play Store to protect the relevant markets such as online video hosting services offered by YouTube, etc. in contravention of Section 4(2)(e) of the Act. All these aspects warrant a detailed investigation,” CCI further noted in the order.
What does Google have to say about it?
Google has denied any sort of wrong doing. “We are confident that our smart TV licensing practices are in compliance with all applicable competition laws,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.
This isn’t the first time Google is facing issues with CCI in the country and. In 2020, CCI opened up an investigation against Google for promoting its payment services on the Play Store by allegedly abusing its dominant position in the space.