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Amazon alleges some TV vendors are not partnering over fear of retaliation from Google • TechCrunch

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Amazon says about half a dozen hardware vendors have indicated that they cannot enter into a TV manufacturing relationship with the e-commerce group over fear of retaliation from Google.

The revelation, officially shared for the first time by Amazon, was made by an Amazon India unit to the country’s antitrust watchdog as part of a years-long investigation into Google over claims that it abuses the dominant position in Android. The watchdog found that Google did abuse its dominant position in Android and slapped a $162 million fine on Thursday.

As part of the investigation, the Competition Commission of India interviewed several industry players including Samsung, Microsoft and Mozilla. But nobody spoke quite so freely as Amazon, a quick analysis of the 293-page order showed.

Here’s CCI sharing what Amazon told them:

Amazon has explored working with mobile OEMs/ODMs/CMs who also manufacture non-mobile smart media devices, such as smart TVs, to enable those manufacturers to distribute non-mobile smart media devices (including smart TVs) running the Fire OS (eg, Fire TV Edition (FTVE) for smart TVs). In these discussions with OEMs, at least seven OEMs have indicated that their ability to enter into a manufacturing relationship of this kind with Amazon is either blocked entirely or significantly limited (eg, in terms of geographic scope) by their contractual commitments to Google and the concern that Google would retaliate against another of the OEM’s businesses that produce Android devices.

Amazon told the competition regulator that in “several cases” the OEM has indicated that it cannot work with Amazon “despite a professed desire to do so in connection with smart TVs.” In some cases, Amazon said even if the manufacturers agreed to not work on Android-powered smart TVs, they still had concerns that by working with Amazon on Fire OS-powered TVs they might still be risking their GMS license from Google for other businesses.

Additionally, firms including Foxconn and Panasonic tried and failed to obtain permission from Google to work with Amazon, the e-commerce giant said.

“In others, the OEM has tried and failed to obtain ‘permission’ from Google. For example, such discussions occurred with Skyworth, TPV (with respect to the Philips brand), UMC (with respect to the Sharp brand), Foxconn (with respect to the Sharp brand), and Panasonic. Panasonic also shared concerns about possible retaliation by Google against its automotive and aviation businesses if it proceeded with FTVE installation on smart TVs,” the watchdog cited Amazon as saying.

In a series of accusations, Amazon also said that smartphone vendors told the firm that their terms with Google required them to have Google Chrome pre-installed on their handsets and a shortcut of it displayed on the home screen of the device in a move that was detriment to the growth of Amazon’s browser, Silk.

“This impacted Amazon Silk adoption because Amazon’s research at the time showed that the default browser was used by 58% of users, leaving Amazon Silk to compete with other web browsers such as Opera, Firefox, and UC for the minority of users not using the default browser,” the watchdog cited Amazon as saying. “Another possible barrier to distribution was the request from OEMs that Amazon pay significant amounts in order to be pre-installed onto the device, but even with payment, OEMs would make no guarantees as to app placement or willingness to forego the Chrome browser as the default browser (which would require them to remove the Google Play Store and other Google apps).”

(More to follow)

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