Google said to be under U.S. FTC antitrust scrutiny over Android

“Google Inc. is back under U.S. antitrust scrutiny as officials ask whether the tech giant stifled competitors’ access to its Android mobile-operating system, said two people familiar with the matter,” David McLaughlin reports for Bloomberg.

“The Federal Trade Commission reached an agreement with the Justice Department to spearhead an investigation of Google’s Android business, the people said,” McLaughlin reports. “FTC officials have met with technology company representatives who say Google gives priority to its own services on the Android platform, while restricting others, added the people, who asked for anonymity because the matter is confidential.”

“The inquiry is in its early stages, and it could end without a case against the company. Regardless, it shows the FTC is again turning its attention to one of America’s biggest companies, two years after it closed a separate investigation into Google’s Internet search business,” McLaughlin reports. “The FTC’s handling of the earlier probe left some technology companies skeptical of the agency’s willingness to bring a case, according to the people.”

MacDailyNews Take: When you help bankroll and guide a U.S. President to election and average one White House meeting per week, problems tend to magically dry up at government agencies, it seems.

“The FTC led the U.S. investigation into Google’s search business that started around 2011. That probe, which also touched upon the Android system, ended in early 2013 with the commission voting 5-0 not to bring a case,” McLaughlin reports. “Then-FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz, announcing the close of the investigation, said the agency lacked evidence to bring a case.”

“‘The FTC comes to this with a lot of baggage,’ said Gary Reback, a lawyer with Carr Ferrell LLP, who filed a Google-related complaint with European antitrust officials on behalf of a startup that makes applications that block online tracking,” McLaughlin reports. “‘When we say we’re concerned, it’s not only because they didn’t do a good investigation the first time around, or the fact that they didn’t protect the confidentiality of the people who complained,’ Reback said, ‘but also because they seem to take directions from Google.'”

“The latest FTC scrutiny comes after Europe’s antitrust chief challenged Mountain View, California-based Google earlier this year over its dominance of Internet search,” McLaughlin reports. “The European Union has also started its own investigation into Google’s Android platform following complaints, including from a group representing Microsoft Corp., Expedia Inc. and Nokia Oyj. It isn’t clear to what extent EU and U.S. antitrust investigators are cooperating.”

“The Android mobile platform ties together several Google products, including search and maps, into one bundle, echoing the even more dominant Microsoft Windows platforms of nearly two decades ago,” McLaughlin reports. “In 1998, the U.S. claimed Microsoft unlawfully protected its Windows monopoly by keeping computer makers from promoting Web browsers that competed with its Internet Explorer. Microsoft agreed, in a settlement four years later, to end the anticompetitive conduct.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: They should be looking at Google’s utter dominance of online advertising (the company’s bread and butter), but we doubt that’ll ever happen given the current atmosphere.

We’ll see if Google’s quixotic attempt to wrest back control of Android runs afoul of antitrust law and, if so, if anybody does anything about it.

SEE ALSO:
EU charges Google with antitrust violations, opens formal Android investigation – April 15, 2015
Google averages one White House meeting per week during Obama administration – March 25, 2015
European antitrust investigators train sights on Google over Android – July 31, 2014
Obama advisor Eric Schmidt said to visit North Korea as early as this month – January 3, 2013
Google to settle U.S. FTC antitrust probe, sources say – January 2, 2013
Google’s Eric Schmidt spurns Obama cabinet post offer – December 11, 2012
Obama to reward Google’s Schmidt with Cabinet post? – December 5, 2012
FTC staff said to formally recommend antitrust lawsuit against Google over FRAND abuse – November 1, 2012
Google U.S. antitrust lawsuit said to be urged by FTC investigators over Internet search, FRAND abuse – October 15, 2012
European antitrust authorities set to accuse Google of ‘abuse of dominance’ – December 3, 2011
Seattle Times: ‘Google should be investigated for violation of federal antitrust laws’ – May 23, 2010

28 Comments

  1. “FTC officials have met with technology company representatives who say Google gives priority to its own services on the Android platform, while restricting others…”

    Spit out my coffee on that one.
    Good! Investigate them, but why stop there? Others are far worse.

        1. Why do you NEED an SD card and alternate store? You load up your iPhone with whatever you need and then delete after you’re done and load it up later with other stuff. There, not so hard now is it? Apple Store already has everything you need in apps. iTunes, iBooks and Kindle take care of the rest. Or rip it yourself and put it on there. Really not hard. Thou doth protest too much ado about nothing. Just buy an iPhone with a decent amount of storage.

          1. Alternate Store: Because forbidding content without recourse is censorious, and anti-competitive.

            SD Card: Want versus need. I don’t want to make each and every possible decision before I buy. SD Cards give me that flexibility and save money. They are also swappable. Reliance on the cloud is unacceptable to me.

            But I was using examples I cared about. A diverse ecosystem would have devices that others care about. It’s flexibility.

            1. Most of us don’t care about Android porn apps. SD cards for me personally are a big meh on an iPhone – great for my DSLR, camcorder and digital recorders. I would suggest you buy an Android settler phone and satisfy all your deviant heart’s desires.

            2. Whether it’s porn apps, or plug-ins, or anything else, it’s censorship if there’s no recourse. As far as SD, or any other feature, good for you. What puzzles me is why you care if someone gets a feature they want.

              Now being I have two Samsung Phones (and several tablets) as well as a Windows Phone, I guess I’m both a Fandroid and a WIntard. Too bad. I could have been a fanboy too!

            3. But Apple doesn’t offer it, yet somehow, you begrudge someone for getting what they want somewhere else. Hey, it’s okay with me if you want Apple to be your IT department, as long as I can turn that off.

            4. No you’re simply a nut. Fandroids are idiots not by virtue of not having bought an iPhone but having their heads in the sand about their choice of phone platform and disadvantages/fragmented/security/walled garden/Google data mining reality therein. Android is no panacea by a long shot. Pick your poison but Android it stands to reason is the most poisonous choice.

  2. I don’t see an issue with any company giving preference for its own services..like saying Apple should pre install other music stores on iOS. Regarding Google, however, they should look into how they use all that data they collect on people. Android phones are especially spyware. Facebook is another favorite of mine..like how it starts recommending people from my work contacts list despite me not allowing access to my contacts..and not having anyone at work in my friends list.

    1. I strongly agree with you regarding an investigation into Googles data collection (Peeping Tom) business which is where they make nearly all their $$$$$$$$$$. The fact that Google is valued at over $650 Billion, earned by selling our personal information deserves investigation. Any business that builds a personal profile on each of us by trying very hard to track our every move, our friends, family and associates, our internet activity, our purchases, our email, our photos, our location, our entertainment preferences including what music, TV, movies, online video, sports, etc we prefer, our finances, our health, our political and religious leanings, and then sells that personal profile of every single one of use for hundreds or thousands of $$$$$ per year to advertisers, and who knows who else deserves to be investigated.

      If you are such a company, a company with fine tuned expertise at maintaining detailed profiles on “Everyone”, and expertise in how to use that data to makes hundreds of BILLIONS of $$$$, then it is easy to imagine using the information in detailed profiles of anyone involved in any investigation against you to help “guide” their investigation toward a positive outcome. Just saying……..

      1. I would agree if Google services were forced on users with no other options. MS’s IE being so deeply integrated into the Windows OS was the problem there. In Google’s case practically no part of Google’s services are integrated into Android itself. Each Google service runs as an Intent that is the initial default for most (if not all) GOOGLE Android smartphones. Apps with similar Intent offerings are presented when they are available (e.g. various browsers, Social network services to share photos to, etc.). Downloading the appropriate apps on a Google Android phone will make it possible to eliminate most if not all use of Google related services on Google Android phones. If a case is actually presented it will be much more difficult to prosecute in comparison to the MS IE case.

    1. Hey, educate yourself: actual progressives, and certainly socialists, are NOT fans of Obama. Duh. Obama is the D-flavored version of the corporation-loving two-party corrupt political system in the U.S.

  3. Hey, educate yourself: actual progressives, and certainly socialists, are NOT fans of Obama. Duh. Obama is the D-flavored version of the corporation-loving two-party corrupt political system in the U.S.

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