Google's Android division being investigated by the FTC for possible anti-trust violations

Google's Android division being investigated by the FTC for possible anti-trust violations
Two sources familiar with the probe, say that the Federal Trade Commission is looking into allegations that Google blocked access to the Android operating system for two Google competitors. As a result, the Justice Department will team up with the FTC for the anti-trust investigation. Anonymous FTC officials say that rival tech companies claim that Google puts its own services ahead of others on the Android OS, and in some cases it will restrict competitors from gaining access to the platform.

The EU is already investigating anti-trust claims against Android based on Google's practice of bundling applications like YouTube, Google Maps and Google Chrome onto the OS. The EU is investigating whether this practice harms developers of rival apps, and whether handset manufacturers are hurt by having to take the entire package in order for their phone to run on Android. The EU also wants to make sure that smartphone manufacturers aren't being blocked from developing their own version of Android. Google derives one-third of its revenue from the region served by the EU.

NYU law professor Harry First explains that there could be no violation, even if Android is bundled with many Google Services applications. If consumers can turn to a rival OS, there is no violation says the professor. "The question for Android is, do they really have sufficient market power, particularly in a world where there are other mobile-phone operating systems?"
 
If the FTC plans on continuing the investigation, it will next release its Statement of Objections, which lays out all of the issues that the FTC has with Google. This is important because it will give the company a chance to see what the case is all about, and it gives Google a chance to respond to the complaints.

As of the second quarter of this year, Android owned a 59.3% share of OS placements on U.S. smartphones. Apple was next with 38%, followed by the 2.35% of the market owned by Microsoft and the .36% of the pie belonging to BlackBerry.

source: Bloomberg

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81 Comments

1. SirYar

Posts: 351; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Queue in the iFanboys.

3. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Google has been violating antitrust laws for years and it's getting ridiculous that no one is doing anything about it. Like the whole shoving G+ down our throats over Facebook and being forced to make a G+ page just to leave reviews on the Play Store or manipulating the search engine results to favor their products.

9. tedkord

Posts: 17133; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

They never stopped anyone from using Facebook. Your vendetta keeps getting sillier. For instance, Apple is much more restrictive. You can't get apps from any other source. You can't choose default apps. Where is your outrage?

14. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Difference is.. Apple doesn't have such a big market share that it would fall under monopoly laws. Like Windows Android has such a big piece of the pie, they are looked upon more strictly. If iOS had such a big share, believe me Apple would undergo the same investigation. Same goes for OSX, if it had 95% of the desktop pc market, Apple would have been forced to leave out software too that it now ships with OSX.

16. SamsungPhanboy

Posts: 765; Member since: Mar 31, 2015

Always enjoy seeing your fairly balanced posts!

61. neela_akaash

Posts: 1239; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

US government actually wants to control the Google's humongous database. So that they can technically rule the world...

20. tedkord

Posts: 17133; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

78% isn't a monopoly. In the US, Android share is like 56%. Nowhere near monopoly.

30. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

For anti trust laws, it doesn't have to be a (near) monopoly. A very large share is sufficient for these laws to become active. @av911 even if the FTC is US based, they can look at Google/Android from a world marketshare perspective.

34. tedkord

Posts: 17133; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

No, they can't. They have to look at it from a US perspective.

50. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Since when does FTC represent the whole world?

23. av911

Posts: 206; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

FTC = United States iPhone has close to 45% marketshare in the US, I'd say it's big enough to allege them.

68. higeyuki

Posts: 23; Member since: Aug 06, 2012

Maybe globally. However in the United States where this case would matter they are nearly tied for markets share.

10. Subie

Posts: 2301; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

I'm pretty sure there are no laws out there designed to protect your ability to leave "reviews on the Play Store" in a manner that you prefer. It's the same as being required to use Itunes to load MP3s on your Ipod. Annoying maybe but is it antitrust........

17. ILikeBubbles

Posts: 525; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

uh... so does every other search engine? and so what about g+ .. when do you not have a choice between g+ and fb.. you're going to complain that you can't leave a comment on the GOOGLE play store about your GOOGLE app using your GOOGLE services with facebook? is this the biggest concern you have in life?

31. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

While I agree I didnt like the forced G+ use, it just meant if you wanted to leave a review you had to sign in. Me and many others just didnt leave reviews anymore. Google eventually did away with that earlier this year. They never shoved G+ instead of FB...they just tried to increase usage by tying it to app reviews. I dont remember a time we could sign in to FB and leave an app review... You do realize that using the company's app, software is usually the easier, better experience vs using something else? Ever try to use hotmail on an Android phone? Compare that to using hotmail on a WP, Win Mo phone. It can be done but using GMail on an Android phone is just easier.

35. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

I don't quite get this whole thing I mean yes sure Google has had a few things I question, but bundling their own software with devices? android is their product, as long as you can freely use anything else, then what does it matter? how is that anti trust? and if googles apps are good so you don't want to use anything else, how is that a problem? other devs should improve their products? How did they shove G+ down anyone's throats? because they changed their own product to include their own product? wait what? annoying, yes, shove down throat? not by a long shot. But remember one thing, youtube comments are in general bad, but before G+ they were worse in behavior. Yes google+ got that whole limit thing removed which made it near just as bad but even so.

45. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Ask MS the same question. They never stopped a user from installing anything. This isn't about the user, this is about the builder being stopped by Google. Which MS was successfully hit with because the maker of the hardware couldn't install their own stuff. If google is stopping them just like MS did, you bet MS will step in and say....hey look what you did to us, we couldn't even install media player because we had a monopoly...etc.

53. tedkord

Posts: 17133; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Except Android : A) Doesn't have anything approaching a monopoly in the US. B) Allows anyone in the world to fork the OS and use any apps they like.

66. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

I understand that, but this isn't about forking. This is about them using their Google stance, working with google certification process. And google using their million app store as leverage to force them to use something else instead, which they did to Motorola by threatening to kick them out of OHA, because as part of OHA you cant. MS did the same thing but got slammed for it. Just because you can fork it doesn't mean crap, because the fork of android is not what is or was dominant. Just like MS did not stop dell from running Linux, but you going to say that MS didn't use their position to deter them from Linux or IBM OS etc? Just like Google may have? I think the MS ban was dumb as hell, I think this one is dumb as hell, however if the law or rules state otherwise, you have to play by those rules...not what we think is dumb.

69. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Since Android is open source maybe Google could pass it development work to another company that are not subjected to US laws.

74. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

They very much could, however if it is sold in the US it could fall under competition. Just like the EU made MS strip media player out of it, yet US didn't. So they might skirt by on some things, but not on all. I still think its dumb imo though.

55. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Difference is Windows is Windows. Cant do much about it if MS played hardball...which they did and got their hand slapped. Google's Android is one of a handful of Android versions out there. EU isnt making the distinction between Android and Google's version. There is a difference. A is AOSP = Android. And MS did make it harder for ppl to use Netscape. I was one of those that liked it more than IE. Had to use separate java software to use Netscape properly. MS has their own version of Java that magically worked fine with IE...but not with Netscape...

60. baldilocks

Posts: 1462; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

Apparently you don't know what monopoly is....

4. SamsungPhanboy

Posts: 765; Member since: Mar 31, 2015

More like Queue any person that is able to be logical about any given situation. If true, Google should ashamed of themselves. Even the most hardcore fanboy should be able to agree.

81. 47AlphaTango

Posts: 714; Member since: Sep 27, 2015

And you think this is the iFanboys fault? This is a government response. And apple has nothing to do with it.

2. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

So they are finally looking into the fact that if you use Google's android, you can't use another version. Which is garbage, as android is supposed to be open source, and one that everyone can use- not just some.

7. tedkord

Posts: 17133; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

It is open source. You can build any apps you want into it, and go totally Google free if you like. Amazon did. CM is doing it. This will end with no charges.

12. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

Nope, that's no longer open source. That's anti-trust. Open source means the code is public domain. Anyone can use it, anyone can modify it, and anyone can distribute it as long as it is free and they share the source code. Google is making it so if you use their version, an OEM in the OHA can't distribute another version- that's what is anti-trust, and that is what needs to be smacked down. It breaches the entire point of open source. Anyone can use Android- unless you are a part of the OHA.

18. ILikeBubbles

Posts: 525; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

waaaaaa a free mobile operating system that created competition in the smartphone market and pushes innovation with hardware and software every year!!! boohoo!!! funny how up until now all i've seen is how people complain about how "google needs to lock down their os more so they can deliver updates" i really hope google sees how petty this all is.

26. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

Innovation has nothing to do with it. The fact that it is free is because it is open source, meaning anyone can use it. If fact, charging for it would be completely illegal. Using Google's Android entails not being able to use another version, and making a different version of Android entails you can't use Google's version. So Amazon and CM can NEVER use Google's version without dumping their own. That's what is anti-trust. They are locking people out of open source, public domain software. That's illegal.

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