The Federal Trade Commission started an inquiry after the agency received several complaints about Google’s habit of using its mobile operating system to promote its own apps and services at competitors’ expense.
The FTC investigation was opened recently, but it is less likely that it would lead to a lawsuit in the U.S. So far, the agency didn’t requested any details or explanations from Google, inner sources said.
But FTC investigators did meet with other tech companies and online companies that filed the Android complaint with the commission. FTC officials are especially interested in gathering evidence on whether the web search giant does favor its products in online searches or not.
Mobile phone producers are not compelled to use Android on their devices but they do need the OS to grant their customers access to valuable apps in the Google’s Play app store. And if they fail to do that sales may be affected.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, chief of Android explained early this spring that the company didn’t promote its products to the expense of its rivals. Android is an open OS, and everyone has access to it.
Lockheimer disclosed back then that Google and phone makers agreed on providing new devices with the basic apps users need such as an e-mail service and maps. And sometimes those preinstalled basic apps and services belong to Google while others come from competitors such as Facebook and Microsoft.
It is up to the phone maker what apps will be preinstalled on the device, Google explained.
Yet, FairSearch, a consortium which represents tech companies affected by Google’s unfair practices, argued that Google abused its position and used ‘anticompetitive tactics’ to stifle its competitors’ access to Android-powered devices.
But it is not the first time Google draws FTC’s attention over antitrust issues. It did so again a couple of years ago, when the web behemoth was accused that it used its search engine to promote its products and services by listing them higher in search results.
Back then, FTC investigators recommended against a lawsuit, arguing that it would be too complex and lengthy, and the odds for success are not clear. FTC, however, decided to close the probe when Google agreed to stop content ‘scraping’ from competitors’ sites.
But in the recent complaints competitors allege that Google actively prevented them from gaining prominent positioning on Android devices or have their apps and services preinstalled on the smartphones.
FTC declined to comment on an ongoing investigation.
Image Source: Pixabay
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