India probes Apple over antitrust behaviour

Fruity cargo-cult Apple has fallen foul of the authorities in one of the most religiously diverse lands in the world.

The Wall Street Journal reported how India’s antitrust agency is looking into how Apple violated local competition laws when selling the iPhone 4.

Apple had a policy that it only sold the phone to those companies who were appointed and anointed by Steve Jobs himself. These were Bharti Airtel and Aircel and they had to sacrifice money to the great Cupertino God before they got such a deal.

However, India’s Competition Act of 2002, does not like agreements that are “likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India” and it seems that someone complained.

One could argue, as Bharti Airtel and Aircel’s rivals no doubt have, that selling your phone through one or two dealers is against Indian law, particularly when Bharti Airtel is the biggest firm.

Since Alexander the Great did not have much luck at changing Indian law, then why should Steve Jobs?

Apple might be wondering what the Steve is going on in India. After all, Jobs’ Mob used to work with just Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar and no one seemed to mind.

But it seems that this time the key to the argument is the adoption of the third-generation wireless spectrum. Five other Indian mobile phone operators also won 3G radio bandwidth last year and Bharti Airtel is India’s largest mobile phone operator.

All this was set up so that there would be a lot of competition in the market.

Unfortunately if the largest telco gets the most popular phone the others are pretty much tiggered and Bharti wins the largest slice of the 3G market.

The agency has just indicated that it is investigating. If it finds that Apple is breaking the law it could request Apple to stop working with  Bharti and Aircel.  We doubt that Steve will be that pleased about being told who he can talk to.