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Opinion | Android TV, another example of how Google abuses its market dominance

Is Google abusing its market position once again? (Image source: Google)
Is Google abusing its market position once again? (Image source: Google)
Google is well-known for its questionable tactics of cementing its market dominance, with the EU Commission fining the company for antitrust violations. Similarly, the Indian Competition Commission is investigating Google about potential monopolistic practices. Now it has emerged that Google is tying TV manufacturers to its services, thereby preventing them from also releasing Amazon Fire TV models.
Alex Alderson,

It seems that Google is up to its old tricks, this time locking out manufacturers from using the Amazon Fire TV platform. Initially reported by Protocol, Google has already been fined billions of Euros in the last few years for abusing its dominance in various markets. Last year, for example, the EU Commission fined Google €1.49 billion for Google AdSense restrictions. Google is currently being investigated by the Indian Competition Commission for monopolistic practices, too.

Now, Protocol reports that Google is using the Android Compatibility Commitment (ACC) to lock manufacturers into using its services. Formerly known as the Anti-Fragmentation Agreement (AFA), the ACC applies to all Google services, not just Android TV.

Citing a "senior employee of a major TV manufacturer", Protocol states that the ACC also applies across markets. Hence, if a manufacturer releases an Android smartphone, it cannot then release an Amazon Fire OS-powered TV. Doing so would apparently risk a manufacturer's access to the Play Store and other Google services.

This may explain why there are so few Amazon Fire TV Edition devices on the market. By our count, there are five Fire TV Edition manufacturers including JVC, Panasonic and Toshiba. Most manufacturers only operate in select markets, though. In the UK, for example, only JVC sells Fire TV Edition devices.

In short, manufacturers cannot release Fire TV Edition TVs if they integrate Android within any of their other products. Seeing as Android currently has about a 73% smartphone market share worldwide and that Google has agreements with 6 of the top 10 smart TV manufacturers, it would seem that the ACC has handicapped Amazon Fire TV Edition TVs from taking off.

Google announced last year that it had signed deals with 6 of the top 10 smart TV manufacturers. (Image source: Google via FlatpanelsHD)
Google announced last year that it had signed deals with 6 of the top 10 smart TV manufacturers. (Image source: Google via FlatpanelsHD)
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 03 > Android TV, another example of how Google abuses its market dominance
Alex Alderson, 2020-03-12 (Update: 2020-03-12)
Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - News Editor - @aldersonaj
Prior to writing and translating for Notebookcheck, I worked for various companies including Apple and Neowin. I have a BA in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds, which I have since converted to a Law Degree. Happy to chat on Twitter or Notebookchat.