Google is once again under the scrutiny of U.S. antitrust officials as they inquire whether the tech giant tried to stifle competitors’ access to its Android mobile operating system, says a report from Bloomberg, which cites two people familiar with the matter. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has agreed with the Justice Department to spearhead an investigation into Google’s Android business.
FTC’s intentions doubted
Two years ago, the FTC closed a separate investigation into Google’s Internet search business, and once again it is turning its attention to one of the biggest companies of America. Keeping in mind the FTC’s handling of the earlier probe, the report says some companies are skeptical of the agency’s willingness to bring a case. As of now, there have been no comments from the spokesmen for either the FTC or Google.
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Google has been accused by several tech firms of favoring its own services on the Android platform while restricting others. FTC officials have already met with representatives of such firms, says the report. The inquiry is in its early stages for now, and there are possibilities that it could end without a case against the company.
Data from IDC, a Massachusetts-based market research firm, indicates that Android accounted for 59% of the U.S. smartphone market in the second quarter, while Apple’s iOS had a 38% share. Third place was held by Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform with a 2.35% share.
EU already investigating Google
Earlier this year, Google was challenged by Europe’s antitrust chief for its Internet search dominance. The European Union received several complaints, among which one was from a group representing Microsoft, Expedia and Nokia Oyj. After receiving that complaint, the EU started an investigation into Google’s Android platform. To what extent EU and U.S. antitrust investigators are cooperating is not clear for now.
FairSearch.org welcomed the news of the FTC’s Android inquiry. “Google has used a range of anti-competitive tactics, carrying on a troubling pattern of conduct that has made it more difficult and expensive for fresh, innovative companies to reach the market,” the group said.
Similar to Google, Microsoft was also accused in 1998 of unlawfully protecting its Windows monopoly by preventing PC makers from promoting Web browsers that competed with its Internet Explorer. However, the Windows maker reached a settlement four years later to end the accusations of anti-competitive conduct.