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FTC reportedly readying subpoenas in antitrust investigation of Google

post #1 of 26
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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is finalizing approval to issue subpoenas to Google in an imminent antitrust investigation of the company's bread-and-butter search and advertising business, according to a new report.

Two people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times on Thursday that the FTC is "preparing to issue subpoenas" to Google as part of a civil antitrust investigation into Google's search engine practices. The company's search and advertising business brings in most of the company's revenue, which reached $29.3 billion in 2010.

The commission's lawyers have been gathering information on Google's search and advertising operations for months and are particularly interested in whether Google's ordering of search results and related advertising constitutes "illegal anticompetitive behavior."

"This month, commissioners privately debated whether to authorize its Bureau of Competition to issue subpoenas to Google and are close to moving forward," the report read. Sources said a final decision regarding the subpoenas should come in a matter days, though they did note that the action is not yet final and could be postponed.

While federal agencies have scrutinized Google before, mostly over acquisitions of advertising-related companies such as AdMob, the impending investigation is said to be "wide-ranging" and could threaten the search giant's core business. This is the main act, said antitrust expert Ted Henneberry, a former trial lawyer at the Justice Department and partner at Orrick Herrington and Sutcliffe.

Though the FTC would not levy fines if Google were found guilty of anticompetitive actions, the company could issue cease-and-desist orders and file a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction against certain practices, the report noted. The commission shares jurisdiction over antitrust cases with the Department of Justice.

Google's opponents have called for an antitrust investigation into Google's search sector for some time. Responding to reports of an imminent investigation, FairSearch.org, which represents companies such as Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak and Microsoft that have objected to Google's actions, applauded the news.

"Google engages in anticompetitive behavior across many vertical categories of search that harms consumers, the organization said in a statement. The result of Googles anticompetitive practices is to curb innovation and investment in new technologies by other companies.

As of May, the company had a 65.5 percent share of the U.S. search market, compared to 16 percent for Yahoo and 14 percent for Microsoft's Bing.

The European Commission initiated a similar antitrust investigation into Google's search practices last year after complaints from small businesses. The case is still pending.

For its part, Apple has found itself in fierce competition with Google in the mobile advertising market. The iPhone maker attempted to purchase AdMob in 2009, but was outmaneuvered by its rival. It has been suggested that Google willingly overpaid for AdMob to keep it away from Apple.

The FTC investigated the AdMob deal, but approved it partly because of the emergence of Apple's iAd venture, which was made possible through the purchase of Quattro Wireless.

Apple announced the iAd program in April of last year. The platform attracted several big-name brands initially, but recent reports have suggested the program is "hurting" for advertisers.
post #2 of 26
Google should just say "We're not evil" and hope the antitrust litigators buy their story.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #3 of 26
I thought this site was Appleinsider, not Googleinsider
post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrispoe View Post

I thought this site was Appleinsider, not Googleinsider

And what happens to Google (or any other competitor) affects Apple.
post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrispoe View Post

I thought this site was Appleinsider, not Googleinsider

Thats the first thing I thought when I saw the headline.
Been enjoying AI for a few years now but the quality of the stories is dropping as the number increases. More isn't always better. It may make financial sense but it just ends up being a bit dull.
Sorry, rant over.
post #6 of 26
Ahh, the bleedingly obvious and yet it has taken so long. But as the Microsoft example has shown before it'll be business as usual.
you only have freedom in choice when you know you have no choice
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you only have freedom in choice when you know you have no choice
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post #7 of 26
Last week, I think it was, we learned that the Feds had no problem with Google bidding on the Nortel patents. Now it turns out they are looking into Google for antitrust issues related to search and advertising. Makes you wonder if they realize that these Googles are the same company.
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Last week, I think it was, we learned that the Feds had no problem with Google bidding on the Nortel patents. Now it turns out they are looking into Google for antitrust issues related to search and advertising. Makes you wonder if they realize that these Googles are the same company.

Or they realize that the companies have different divisions and that the patent purchases (Nortel is a telecom tech company) has nothing to do with Google's search operations. They aren't connected.
post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrispoe View Post

I thought this site was Appleinsider, not Googleinsider

given that Google is a direct competitor in the smartphone and mobile ad spaces and a service partner in search and mapping, how WOULDN'T this be relevant?

Or is the fact that it is not completely and myopically Apple centric the reason for the concern.

Besides, it's probably a slow news day
If you are going to insist on being an ass, at least demonstrate the intelligence to be a smart one
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If you are going to insist on being an ass, at least demonstrate the intelligence to be a smart one
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post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post

Or they realize that the companies have different divisions and that the patent purchases (Nortel is a telecom tech company) has nothing to do with Google's search operations. They aren't connected.

They're loosely connected since Google's mobile platform ties consumers to Google's search system and developers to Google's mobile Ads system. At this point we're still at early days in the anti-trust process though, and Google has a certain amount of leeway.

Not that I think Google should have been stopped from bidding, I think the patents are fine. If the FTC want to open up the mobile market to different search and ad providers they should simply require Android to search configurable on the handset and ad-serving configurable by the developers.
post #11 of 26
There's "Open" and then theres Open. Ill Take Apples curated and proprietary iOS platform over Googles curated and proprietary search results any day.
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

They're loosely connected since Google's mobile platform ties consumers to Google's search system and developers to Google's mobile Ads system. At this point we're still at early days in the anti-trust process though, and Google has a certain amount of leeway. .

We're talking about different divisions and members of the government looking at different parts of a large and complicated company. It doesn't matter what ties each division of Google has with each other, the government is looking at two different and unrelated matters. Furthermore "the government" is not one thing. It is a complex organization that doesn't operate the way seem to imply. Google is a large complex company and they can treat each division differently. Especially when we are talking about different aspects of law.

Just because Google uses search in Android or Chrome for example has nothing to do with Nortel's patent library. They aren't connected like that in the government's eyes.
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post

Just because Google uses search in Android or Chrome for example has nothing to do with Nortel's patent library. They aren't connected like that in the government's eyes.

Well possibly they're not being viewed as connected currently by the divisions in question, that's not the same thing as them not being connected. Also you have to remember that while there are complaints against Google in the search market nothing has actually been proven yet. Should Google suffer a significant loss then it's entirely possible that the FTC would start to connect them in a future hypothetical auction.
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph L View Post

Given that Google's master plan is to kill the iPhone, I would think that the FTC would realize that Google is trying to be anticompetative. If they get those patents, they will use them to finally kill the iPhone and that is a violation of law.

*facepalm*

Google DOES NOT WANT to kill the iPhone. It is an incredibly large amount of ad revenue heading into their pockets...THINK before you speak.

Google deployed Android for 2 reasons.

1. Ad revenue
2. Believe it or not..there exists a group of people who *gasp* don't wan't an iphone, because they believe that they should be able to control the appliance/phone/ect.. they paid for.

Lastly Google is not Apple. Google will not launch some insane blitzkrieg on Apple, Nokia, or RIM to bring them down, Google wants protection not absolute rule. Considering the options if Apple doesn't win, Google would probably be the nicest in terms of any fees. Because Nokia and RIM will most likely strike back at apple in full force with these.
post #15 of 26
Antitrust against Google? They are just going to delete their 'cache' evidence and employ some more lobbyist and it will be swept under the carpet soon enough.
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jexus View Post

Google deployed Android for 2 reasons.

1. Ad revenue
2. Believe it or not..there exists a group of people who *gasp* don't wan't an iphone, because they believe that they should be able to control the appliance/phone/ect.. they paid for.

I'd add that they didn't want to risk MS getting significant traction, and that have to pay considerable fees to Apple to keep their exclusive on search within safari - which Android obviously helps them reduce.

Quote:
Google wants protection not absolute rule.

Skyhook might not agree with you on that. Google are as capable of playing hardball as anybody.
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jexus View Post


Lastly Google is not Apple. Google will not launch some insane blitzkrieg on Apple, Nokia, or RIM to bring them down, Google wants protection not absolute rule. Considering the options if Apple doesn't win, Google would probably be the nicest in terms of any fees. Because Nokia and RIM will most likely strike back at apple in full force with these.

Apple did not launch some insane blitzkrieg on Nokia, Moto, RIM... In Nokia's and Moto's case, they launched first.

Google is no Saint. Apple is no Saint. Nokia is no Saint. They are all companies trying to maximize profits at the expense of their competition.
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

I'd add that they didn't want to risk MS getting significant traction, and that have to pay considerable fees to Apple to keep their exclusive on search within safari - which Android obviously helps them reduce.

Agreed

Quote:
Skyhook might not agree with you on that. Google are as capable of playing hardball as anybody.

The Skyhook case was lost to them because they wanted to Motorola to ditch Google on a google product, similar to how Big red was pre intalling Bing on multiple Android devices.
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Last week, I think it was, we learned that the Feds had no problem with Google bidding on the Nortel patents. Now it turns out they are looking into Google for antitrust issues related to search and advertising. Makes you wonder if they realize that these Googles are the same company.

The left tentacle doesn't know what the right tentacle is doing.
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jexus View Post

*facepalm*

Google DOES NOT WANT to kill the iPhone. It is an incredibly large amount of ad revenue heading into their pockets...THINK before you speak.

Google deployed Android for 2 reasons.

1. Ad revenue
2. Believe it or not..there exists a group of people who *gasp* don't wan't an iphone, because they believe that they should be able to control the appliance/phone/ect.. they paid for.

Lastly Google is not Apple. Google will not launch some insane blitzkrieg on Apple, Nokia, or RIM to bring them down, Google wants protection not absolute rule. Considering the options if Apple doesn't win, Google would probably be the nicest in terms of any fees. Because Nokia and RIM will most likely strike back at apple in full force with these.

My bold in your quote to highlight your contention.

And you know this how?
just waiting to be included in one of Apple's target markets.
Don't get me wrong, I like the flat panel iMac, actually own an iMac, and I like the Mac mini, but...........
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just waiting to be included in one of Apple's target markets.
Don't get me wrong, I like the flat panel iMac, actually own an iMac, and I like the Mac mini, but...........
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post #21 of 26
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post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

Be wary of the shifting sands. You root for the DOJ, but think only of today.

Yesterday it was an anti-trust suit against Microsoft, today it's an anti-trust suit against Google. If Apple is successful in fulfilling the vision of many here in which all other companies are either stupid or evil and all must be eliminated, it's only a matter of time before the DOJ comes a' knockin' on Apple's door. Indeed, the only way to avoid it would be if Apple impairs their own growth, or radically changes the unusual level of control they exercise over the whole of their ecosystem. They survive scrutiny today only by being a minority player with both of their OSes. That may change, and as an Apple shareholder I hope it does. But with it either Apple's policies or the DOJ's focus will shift as well.....

Exactly. I'll bet money that someday the DOJ will be knocking on Apple to check out that whole "integrated" iTunes ecosystem thingie.

If they can make a case against Google in a market where Google has 65% of marketshare (and whatever the allegation....Google is not outright blocking somebody's search results), just imagine the field day the DOJ will have with Apple some day. They are probably just waiting for Apple's marketshare to grow a bit.
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickag View Post

My bold in your quote to highlight your contention.

And you know this how?

Easy.

1. The only thing Google cares about with anything is Ads. iOS is a HUGE platform of which Google still makes plenty of $$$ off of. Google wants Apple Alive.

2. Do you REALLY think that a company that is being looked into for Anti-competitve practices in TWO continents would start suing it's competitors? What kind of world do you live in if that's the case?
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post

We're talking about different divisions and members of the government looking at different parts of a large and complicated company. It doesn't matter what ties each division of Google has with each other, the government is looking at two different and unrelated matters. Furthermore "the government" is not one thing. It is a complex organization that doesn't operate the way seem to imply. Google is a large complex company and they can treat each division differently. Especially when we are talking about different aspects of law.

Just because Google uses search in Android or Chrome for example has nothing to do with Nortel's patent library. They aren't connected like that in the government's eyes.

Maybe the government should look into Google transferring most their profits to Bermuda via Ireland thus avoiding tax and leaving it to everyone else to fund investigations like this.
Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jexus View Post

...2. Believe it or not..there exists a group of people who *gasp* don't wan't an iphone, because they believe that they should be able to control the appliance/phone/ect.. they paid for...

*facepalm*

Believe it or not there are people who believe Google's "open" marketing spiel who would be better served by a Nokia handset running Meamo/Meego.

For a simple example of Google's "openness", where's the source for Honeycomb?
Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

For a simple example of Google's "openness", where's the source for Honeycomb?

This was resolved a while back. Google withheld the Core components of honeycomb(AKA google services) from access. The 3.0 API's were available in the SDK, as well as the 3.1 API's. Google feared another round of fragmentation which they did not want so for a limited time the entire source code was held in repository at launch to make sure the OEM's were not pillaging it.

The Galaxy Tab is soon to receive touchwiz for Honeycomb via OTA and the Asus Eeepad Transformer(the best selling Honeycomb tablet out of the bunch so far) has an ASUS skinned UI over it.

Google has already confirmed that unlike Honeycomb, ICS has gone through it's rounds and it's code will not be held in repository at launch/
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