Apple may face India probe for anticompetitive practices

Apple may face scrutiny from an Indian regulator for alleged anticompetitive behavior in connection with iPhone 4 sales in India.

A Competition Commission of India official said on Wednesday that a case was filed against Apple about a month ago. The complaint alleges that the company violated competition law by selling the iPhone 4 through only two mobile operators, Bharti Airtel and Aircel.

The official, speaking anonymously, said the Commission would look into the complaint’s merits. He did not disclose the complainant.

An Apple official in India said the company did not receive any notice from the Competition Commission. The official added that the iPhone 4 is being sold unlocked through the two operators and other retail channels. The data plans bundled by the operators are optional, and at the discretion of the user, he said.

An Apple retailer offered to sell an iPhone 4 on Wednesday without a data plan or connection from either of the two operators. “If your operator can provide you a micro SIM (subscriber identity module), you can use it on the iPhone 4,” a salesman said.

Airtel and Aircel have offered the iPhone 4 with discounted data plans that promise to help the user recover the phone’s upfront cost. Both started selling the iPhone 4 in May to take advantage of third-generation wireless spectrum that they acquired in an auction.

The complaint also objects that apps for the iPhone 4 can only be downloaded from the Apple store, and the devices can only be serviced at Apple service centers, according to some local media reports.

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