FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

Summary: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the FTC has expanded its probe into Google's business practices to include the Android mobile platform.

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TOPICS: Android, Google
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The FTC's antitrust probe into Google's business practices may not just stop at search, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that the Android mobile platform is going under the microscope too.

At issue, according to the "people familiar with the probe" cited by that WSJ report, is whether or not Google keeps its Android handset manufacturer partners from using "competitors' services." Specifics aren't given, and while that wording could refer to specific products like weather apps, it's easy to see how it might refer to competing operating systems like Microsoft Windows Phone 7.

This news comes just about six weeks after the Federal Trade Commission first made clear its intent to probe Google's business, though we could only guess exactly what they were looking for.

But over time, it became apparent that the FTC was investigating allegations that Google unfairly pushed competing services down in their search results, effectively killing businesses by keeping customers from finding them.

There's an extra twist this time around, according to that same Wall Street Journal report: regulators may be looking into accusations that before sinking those competitors' search rankings, Google scrapes them for data like restaurant rankings and incorporates it into their own offerings.

If true, it would explain why Google's made otherwise confusing moves like removing external reviews from Google Places - it wants to look like it's addressing FTC concerns before they're made official.

Thus far, the most any news outlet has been able to get out of Google is the following statement:

"We understand that with success comes scrutiny. We're happy to answer any questions they have about our business."

That's a healthy attitude for Google to adopt, given that chairman Eric Schmidt is going to be testifying on these allegations in front of a US Senate antitrust hearing on September 21st. And that's not to mention the ongoing European Union antitrust investigation.

We're getting closer to some solid details on the FTC's specific concerns with Google. Perhaps just as importantly, we're speeding towards the day where Google has to stop delaying and start addressing those concerns directly.

Topics: Android, Google

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22 comments
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  • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

    Google keeps its Android handset manufacturer partners from using ?competitors? services.?

    Basically Skyhook and many other company that got dumped by OEMs after Google demanded.
    illegaloperation
  • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

    "We understand that with success comes scrutiny. We?re happy to answer any questions they have about our business"

    You won't be happy once all those lawsuits are settled.

    This is a company that has gone SICK and I wonder anybody in google has any dignity left. Google is not a search/software company, its a pirate company.
    owlnet
    • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

      @owlnet

      I stopped using Microsft for search years ago when I had to go to page three or four to find Sun Open Office when searching for "Open Office". At that time every other search engine I knew of put Sun Open Office as the number one search result. Other competing products to Microsoft were similarly buried. Google was also the first search engine to give clear differentiation between paid for advertisements and actual search results.

      So far everything I have read about these antitrust complaints come from "alternative" search engines that use primary search engines to hijack and redirect search queries from legitatmite search engines. I can not stand it when I go directly to Google or Yahoo to perform a search and among the top results are links that merely take me to somebody else's search page. Searchjacking is not a valid business model, regardless of the income they are able to make from it, and there is no reason why a search engine should not be able to prevent the practice as it sabotages the value of their own results in order to steer business towards the leeches.
      techadmin.cc
  • Message has been deleted.

    AdnanPirota
    • ???

      @AdnanPirota ...so let me get this right.. Google's potentially illegal anticompetitive practices are the fault of apple being.. evil? yeah.. that makes a lot of sense.. time to take off the foil hat and to start taking your meds again.. paranoia is a terrible thing.. lol...
      doctorSpoc
      • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

        @doctorSpoc
        yeah Google has Potentially illegal anticompetitive practices (probably because most of their services are offered for free) while Apple has more cash than US of the A
        AdnanPirota
      • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

        @AdnanPirota I guess if people would stop paying the high dollar for Apple products, then Apple would not have a lot of cash. Which of course has nothing to do with how the greedy politicians and special interest groups pay run the federal government.
        rmark2
    • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

      @AdnanPirota Riiiight... because the probe was originally about the search engine which Apple is a HUGE competitor with Google in search engin...wait, NO they are not. Apple is not into the search engine business at all and in fact uses Google as their default search engine on iOS.

      FAIL on your part dude. Nice try to bring Apple in to spread FUD and lies about your favorite company to hate but it failed.
      athynz
      • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

        @athynz Google is not my favorite company, I like Android and free market and that's it ... to bad Nokia didn't patent cell phone, so it could sue Apple for iPhone (reason why I call them Axis of Evil is because they "patented" tablet computers) ...
        AdnanPirota
      • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

        @AdnanPirota I guess reading comprehension is a problem for you? He said Apple is "your favorite company to hate" not that Google is your favorite company.
        non-biased
    • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

      @AdnanPirota
      Sorry for all the fanboys of both. apple and Google are both evil anti-competitive organization. Pretty much like many other orgs. Large companies these days push a product or service out the door and sue the hell out of their competition. this is an extreme disservice to the consumer as it limits competition (which drives down process) and limits selection (which drives up prices and doesn't give the consumer much choice). Apple kicks apps off their store far more often than Android does for nefarious reasons. Both are suspect and are not friendly to the consumer (then again neither is Microsoft).
      gbohrn
  • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

    Why does it seem that all we hear about lately is tech companies getting sued. Who really stands to gain from all of these lawsuits? Sure the Apple Haters could enthusiastically scream out "Apple and they suck!" The Google Haters could bellow "Google because they are evil" The Microsoft Haters could yell "Microsoft because they are the original evil corporation" The Linux heads could say "Apple and Microsoft because they aren't open source and they suck"... the answer my young padawans is none of the above. It's the freaking LAWYERS who stand to gain from all of these suits... they've gone from ambulance chasing to patent chasing.

    Don't get me wrong, corporate greed plays a huge roll in this and the desire to "protect one's patents" is the rallying cry... but the root cause is the greed and opportunistic traits of your common sleezeball blood sucking lawyer.

    Patent reform and tort reform are sorely needed - not just in the US but world wide.
    athynz
    • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

      @athynz Yes, it is needed. Google needs to understand that it needs to play by the current patent laws or keep getting sued and probed. Maybe even actually try to buy a or submit more of the their own patents instead of stealing others.
      rmark2
      • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

        @rmark@...

        But patents are evil (Unless Google owns them). We do what we want! ;)
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

        @rmark@...

        Why don't you learn a bit about whats going on before you comment on it.
        techadmin.cc
  • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

    Google is as sleazy as they come. It doesn't take an idiot to see how shady they have become in the last few years.

    WiFi-Gate - Over 600 GB of data, collected for no real reason (That we know of).

    Google Buzz
    Gmail is crawled by data bots, just to feed Google's apatite for online scamvertising.

    What scares me the most is even while avoiding their services, I still find Google owned domain names in my router's logs. It seems that as I navigate to certain websites, I pass through Google ad servers, even though I have AdBlock running. However, since running Disconnect, they have finally gone away. It's almost impossible not to deal with Google while surfing the web. That scares me.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

      @Cylon Centurion <br><br>wifi gate is the most overblown non issue ever reported Google themselves discovered the "illegally" collected data, informed on themselves and took steps to scrub it.

      Google is only one of the advertisers on the net and most of the free services you use are paid for by advertising. Microsoft's own web browser invades your privacy by scraping the data from your searches and using that to produce a back revenue stream. You may not like the practice but to condemn Google solely for it when it is the common business model on the net is unfair.
      techadmin.cc
  • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

    Patents are evil in general. they no longer service their original purpose. Most patents are created by corporate lawyer off the hard work of the corporate engineer who generally gets a small pay off and a pat on the head. Once established, the patents are thrown in the corporate pool to be used as attack and barter mechanisms with other large corps. Patents are also only useful if you have enough money to defend them. I have friends who have patents that get stolen all the time as they do not have the funds to compete in that arena.
    gbohrn
  • Apple could be in trouble too if the investigation were to include Android.

    <i>At issue, according to the ?people familiar with the probe? cited by that WSJ report, is whether or not Google keeps its Android handset manufacturer partners from using ?competitors? services.? </i>

    Doesn't Apple do the same with their iPhones and iPads?
    adornoe
  • RE: FTC broadens Google antitrust probe to include Android

    FTC Should investigate the patent trolls at apple, they SUCK.
    gtatransam