Alphabet’s Google is facing a new antitrust case in India in which the US tech giant is alleged to have abused its Android operating system’s position in the smart television market, a source and two lawyers involved in the case told Reuters.
The case is Google’s fourth major antitrust challenge in India, one of its key markets where it is currently facing public criticism from local startups for enforcing certain policies and company charges they contend hurt their growth.
It also comes as Google faces new antitrust challenges in the United States, and a potential antitrust probe in China that is set to look into how it allegedly uses its dominance of its Android mobile operating system to stifle competition. Google has denied any wrongdoing.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has since June been looking into allegations that Google engages in anti-competitive practices by creating barriers for firms wanting to use or develop modified versions of Android for smart TVs, such as Amazon Fire TV’s operating system, according to the source, who has direct knowledge of the case.
The case has been filed by two Indian antitrust lawyers, Kshitiz Arya and Purushottam Anand. They both confirmed the case filing against Google for alleged abuse in the smart television market, but declined to comment further.
The source said the CCI had directed Google to submit its written responses to the allegations and that the company has sought more time.
The antitrust watchdog could order a wider investigation against Google if it finds merit in the allegations, or throw out the case completely.
Smart TVs, or WiFi-enabled TVs with apps for streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, have become increasingly popular in India.
Data from Counterpoint Research shows 8 million smart TV sets were sold in India in 2019. Three in five smart TVs sold in India are based on Google’s Android system, which also powers nearly 99 percent of India’s half a billion smartphone user base.