The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly investigating antitrust complaints that Mountain View-based Google uses its Android operating system, embedded in smartphones, to favor its own search engines and services.
Android is the top smartphone platform with 51.6 per cent United States market share, according to an August report from analytics from comScore.
The FTC led the US investigation into Googles search business that started around 2011.
Two years ago, the FTC settled its last investigation with Google over Web search disputes.
What makes the current preliminary antitrust investigation interesting to industry observers is that it doesn’t seem like a direct exercise of market dominance for direct gain. However, unlike Microsoft’s Windows OS, Android is a not a monopoly. In fact, Google doesn’t extract direct profits from its OS unlike its rival Apple Computers.
This probe also reflects another ongoing probe that is happening in the European Union that had been initiated by complaints from a group the most prominent of which’s members is Microsoft.
The new FTC investigation seeks to determine if Google blocked its rival’s access to its Android mobile operating system.
Now, however, the FTC is set to head a joint investigation with the U.S. Department of Justice into Google’s Android licensing, Bloomberg reports. There is competition and phone companies do not have to use Android. In a blog post in April, a top Google executive defended the way the company handled Android, saying other firms could use Android without Google but that working with Google benefits consumers by giving them a better experience with their phone.
But then again, in the competitive mobile operating system market, consumers have different ways of downloading and installing applications on their devices.
As it pertains to the the previous FTC investigation that concluded in 2013, “they really should have thrown the book at them”, Simpson said.