Google is currently under the spotlight in a number of countries for possibly abusing its market position and the US’ Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may also be back on Google’s case, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The FTC is said to have reached an agreement with the Justice Department to spearhead an investigation into Android. More specifically, to examine whether or not Google has been hindering competitors’ access to its Android mobile operating system.
As we have heard a few times before, the concern is that Google gives preference to its own services that often come bundled with its Android operating system. By installing these services by default, some suggest that this gives the company an unfair advantage over its competitors. The fact that OEMs are not free to fork Android without losing access to seemingly essential services, like the Play Store, is also likely to be part of the investigation.
It is important to note that this inquiry is said to still be in its early stages, meaning that the FTC’s investigation may not even end up producing a case to bring against the company. The FTC previously led a U.S. antitrust investigation into Google’s search business back in 2011, but a case was never brought forward as there was a lack of evidence.
Google is also under similar Android-based anti-trust investigations in the EU and Russia this year. The Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service has already found Google guilty of abusing its market position following a complaint from search rival Yandex. The Russian investigation would rather that phones simply shipped with the Play Store, forcing customers to choose all their other services.
The European Commission is concerned that pre-installed applications, such as Chrome, Hangouts, and Youtube, are offering Google an unfair advantage over rival pieces of software, especially if the tech giant is forcing or encouraging handset manufacturers to install these apps by default.
Neither the FTC nor Google commented on the matter.