Alphabet’s Google is facing a new antitrust case in India after it was accused of abusing its Android operating system to take the lead in the smart TV market. The allegations from India are Google’s fourth-largest antitrust challenge. India is one of Google’s main markets, and the company is facing public criticism from local start-ups in India, which say some of the company’s policies have hurt the growth and growth of local businesses.
At the same time, Google faces new antitrust challenges in the U.S. and a possible Antitrust investigation in China into Google’s alleged use of the dominance of its Android mobile operating system to curb competition. Google, on the other hand, denies any wrongdoing.
The Competition Commission (CCI) has been investigating allegations of anti-competitive practices against Google since June, seeking to investigate whether google is setting up barriers to companies that want to use or develop operating systems such as Amazon’s Fire TV, according to people familiar with the matter.
The antitrust case in India was brought by two Indian antitrust lawyers, Kshitiz Arya and Purushottam Anand. They all confirmed allegations that Google was abusing its position in the smart TV market, but declined to comment further.
CCI has asked Google for a written response and says it is buying more time for itself, the sources said.
A Google spokesman declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation with the antitrust agency. Amazon and CCI did not respond to requests for comment.
Unlike other court cases in India, the case documents and details reviewed by CCI have not been publicly disclosed.
If antitrust regulators find the allegations justified, they could order a broader investigation into Google or dismiss the case al-completely.
Smart TVs, including some with WiFi capabilities, are becoming increasingly popular in India, often with apps from streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube.
India will sell 8m smart TVs in 2019, according to Counterpoint Research. Three-fifths of smart TVs sold in India use Google’s Android system. Nearly 99% of India’s 500m smartphone users use Android.
The latest case alleges that Google’s agreements with companies such as Xiaomi and TV maker TCL India effectively prevent other companies from using both Android and modified Android systems on different devices they make, the sources said.
For example, according to a lawsuit against Google, a company cannot sell smart TVs based on competing platforms such as Amazon’s Fire TV system if it sells smartphones based on Google’s Android system, the sources said.
Conversely, if a company’s smart TVs use Amazon’s Fire operating system, the company won’t be able to offer Google’s popular Play Store or Google Maps app on its smartphones.
Xiaomi India and TCL Technology Group Corp. of China. TCL India and Google are both parties to the case. Xiaomi did not respond to a request for comment, while TCL declined to comment.
In 2018, CCI fined Google 1.36 billion rupees ($18.5 million) for “search bias,” but a company appealed and is still waiting. Last year, CCI also began investigating Google for allegedly abusing its market dominance to undermine the smartphone maker’s ability to choose an alternative version of Android.
Earlier this year, CCI began investigating an antitrust case against Google that accused it of abusing its market leadership to unfairly promote its mobile payment app in China.