FTC Investigating Complaints That Google Used Android to Boost Its Products

Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)
Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

Google’s list of regulatory problems is growing longer.

The Federal Trade Commission has started investigating complaints that the Internet giant unfairly uses its Android mobile operating system to bolster popular Google products like Google Search and Google Maps, according to two people involved in the inquiry.

These people, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the investigation as being in a preliminary stage, which means it could ultimately go nowhere. Still, it is the latest in a multiplying number of antitrust problems that have bogged the search giant across the globe.

The inquiry was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Google does not make any money directly from its Android mobile operating software, which powers the vast majority of smartphones not made by Apple. Android is an “open” system that Google gives away to handset makers, but it comes with a catch: If big phone makers like Samsung or Motorola want to include any Google services, they must take a bundle that includes the Google search engine, Gmail and Google Maps, which comes preinstalled on the phone.

Over the last several months, a number of mobile application makers have complained to the Justice Department that those requirements make it all but impossible for them to compete in a world where people are spending less time on desktop computers and more on mobile phones.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Conor Dougherty