U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigating Google's abuse of Android

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in iPhone
The FTC is expanding its investigation into Android related to complaints that Google is exploiting its ostensibly open platform to shut out rivals.


Android


According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the agency has been meeting with companies to "examine industry concerns that Alphabet Inc.'s Google abuses the dominance of its Android smartphone software," an extension of the investigation it initiated last year.

Google is already under examination in Europe, where the European Commission pressed a new set of antitrust charges against the company, saying that Google is hindering competition by locking in certain Android apps or versions of Android.

In the U.S., FTC staffers have reportedly sought new data from at least two other companies, indicating that the investigation is continuing. Unlike the EU, the FTC hasn't yet filed any charges against Google.

The Journal noted that the FTC might reach a different conclusion than the EU, given that European laws on competition "give antitrust enforcers more power to take action against dominant companies."

Google's Android platform also has greater influence in Europe, where Android is credited with 70 percent market share in the five largest EU countries. In the U.S., Android's share (according to Kantar Worldpanel) is closer to 59 percent.

The Journal also noted that U.S. laws would allow Google to excuse its behaviors if it could provide "legitimate business justifications."

In 2013, the FTC avoided any significant action when investigating Google's dominant position in Internet search, despite finding that Google's search research favored the company's own products and services.

And while FTC staffers recommended taking action to stop Google from harvesting content from its rivals, the company was allowed to simply volunteer to make minor changes to avoid any prosecution.

Apple does not face similar investigations over iOS because its software is only used on the company's own devices. Android, like Windows, is offered as a platform for others to use, but carries stipulations designed to benefit Google.

News Corp, which owns The Wall Street Journal filed a complaint against Google in Europe, charging that it "unfairly copies news publishers' content and makes it available in search results."

Google's response is that "Google News and Search send billions of clicks free to the websites of news publishers."

In 2013, Microsoft was fined 561 million Euros for not facilitating competitive access to alternative web browser options.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    Oh boo, couldn't have happened to a nicer evil empire
    cali
  • Reply 2 of 16
    Google spends a lot of money in Washington, D.C. to be convicted of abusive behavior. This investigation is a waste of U.S. taxpayer's money and time. This case will be neutered by politicians.
    edited April 2016 palominechabig
  • Reply 3 of 16
    But, but.... Google is open, and Apple is the evil walled-garden!!! Boo....
    redgeminipa
  • Reply 4 of 16
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,502member
    Google's Android (botched) project is akin to the Microsoft anti-trust brouhaha in the early 2000's.   Wasn't there a contract with Google that disallowed manufacturers from putting out non-Android smartphones?   That just reeks of the same crap that Microsoft pulled with PC makers that were not allowed to sell PC's with other operating systems, or still having to pay a Windows license for every PC whether it was loaded or not.

    Low lifes.
    digital_guycaliredgeminipapalomine
  • Reply 5 of 16
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,301member
    sflocal said:
    Google's Android (botched) project is akin to the Microsoft anti-trust brouhaha in the early 2000's.   Wasn't there a contract with Google that disallowed manufacturers from putting out non-Android smartphones?

    Low lifes.
    Nope, you've confused things. The contract clause you might be thinking of has to do with OHA members selling both Google Android and forked Android handsets at the same time. If they want to sell Windows phones, Tizen phones or any other non-Android OS phones Google doesn't care with nothing in the contract that would get in the way of doing so. In fact some do just that, selling not only Google Android OS mobile devices but "other OS" mobile devices too.  

    FWIW I personally think Google should drop the no-forking-Android clause too. It really serves no purpose now and is just more ammunition for the anti-Google crowd. If one of them wants to invest in creating another OS let 'em. IMO it shouldn't be Google's responsibility to make sure they work with Google Play tho if they do. But I think that's exactly what there's a behind-the-scenes push for. 

    On a related note Getty Images has an issue with Google too. They don't like Image Search, or a least the quality of the search results. They're too good and in the opinion of Getty makes it too easy for IP thieves to be, well, thieves.  Expect that to be another "investigation" in the near future. 
    edited April 2016
  • Reply 6 of 16
    sflocal said:
    Google's Android (botched) project is akin to the Microsoft anti-trust brouhaha in the early 2000's.   Wasn't there a contract with Google that disallowed manufacturers from putting out non-Android smartphones?   That just reeks of the same crap that Microsoft pulled with PC makers that were not allowed to sell PC's with other operating systems, or still having to pay a Windows license for every PC whether it was loaded or not.

    Low lifes.

    It's not "non-Android" devices. It's Android forks that are not compatible with Google Play. You can do a fork, but not a fork AND a Google Play device. 
  • Reply 7 of 16
    This is a core flaw in the Android strategy. In short: The restrictions that come with a monopoly are born from marketshare, not share-of-profits.

    Google have enjoyed the best of both worlds so far, treating Android like a closed model (e.g. Applying conditions as Apple does with the closed-model iOS), but enjoying the proliferation benefits of the open model. That is coming to a close, they're quickly finding themselves in a position similar to Microsoft: where all players on an open platform must start with an even footing. However Google only benefit from the services they bundle with Android, on the hardware side of the business Apple takes the lion-share of profits.

    Apple can never have a monopoly on iOS devices because they're the sole source of iOS devices and iOS entwined services.(The devices are similar to a console.)
    However because anyone can alter or release Android, Google can not favour and limit the kinds of services others provide on it, especially when it reaches a monopoly level of smartphone devices. (Which it now has.)

    In short this is a problem Google are going to have again and again and likely why they've pushed so hard for their own line of nexus devices.

    caliSpamSandwich
  • Reply 8 of 16
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Gaterguy will crap out his so called "defense" in two seconds... Wait for it.

    It's obvious that what Google is doing is highly anti-competitive and they would have been slapped hard in the 1970s and 1980s for doing the same.

    But, Android tit suckers / tech fan who applaud their crud, will be with them until they are bled dry.

    Then they'll ask Google for the "pleasure" of being buried by the little friendly robot.
    calimagman1979redgeminipa
  • Reply 9 of 16
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,301member
    foggyhill said:
    Gaterguy will crap out his so called "defense" in two seconds... Wait for it.
    Wow, you're 30 minutes late. Go back to post 5. ;)
    edited April 2016 lord amhranSpamSandwich
  • Reply 10 of 16
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    If the courts are successful Does this mean droid manufacturers can remove Gaggle apps and replace them with their own? Sweet!
  • Reply 11 of 16
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    cali said:
    If the courts are successful Does this mean droid manufacturers can remove Gaggle apps and replace them with their own? Sweet!
    They could also reverse engineer the API to make Google App work on their non Google variant of Android, or simply provide alternate API's for dev's to compile a different binary doing essentially the same thing.

    Only then could OEM actually make money and not be effectively slaves of Google.
  • Reply 12 of 16
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,998member
    From an end-user perspective - shouldn't this article be titled:

    Consumer Rights Commission investigating Google's abuse by Android


    ?
    edited April 2016
  • Reply 13 of 16
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,720member
    What I find hilarious is that people still don't understand search and the positive impact search has on their web sites.     To put it bluntly I wouldn't even bother to visits some sites if it wasn't for a search engine someplace kicking out a web site that matches my interests.

    As to the rest of the actions against Google I really don't get it.    Nobody has to by a Google powered device, in fact morally it is a bad idea.    I'm still waiting on a Linux powered tablet that can be seen as a fairly decent competitor to iPad.   The problem right now is that nobody, except maybe Samsung, is even looking at Android alternatives.

    In any event the thing I like here is that Googles market share means these government organizations don't have a reason to go after Apple.   At least we can hope, i really believe part of the problem is that Europe in general has a very negative attitude when it comes to American companies.   Deep down I doubt this has anything to do with a lock on the market, it is more about giving European companies an unfair advantage.
    gatorguy
  • Reply 14 of 16
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,301member
    cali said:
    If the courts are successful Does this mean droid manufacturers can remove Gaggle apps and replace them with their own? Sweet!
    I thought Samsung was already making some of their own apps the default over Google's own. For instance isn't Samsung Calendar default on the Note 7 rather than Google Calendar? Not entirely certain. 

    Anyway, as Wizard (and the original WSJ article) noted the US and EU have different outlooks on competition and what's allowed and not and come in from entirely different angles and with different goals. Note that when the iBooks issue came up both here and abroad Apple put up little fight against EU authorities who didn't like the terms. Apple blinked and did away with the offending clauses with barely a whimper.  But here in the US Apple felt that even tho the terms might be seen as "anti-competitive" they had good business reasons for them and the benefits to the books market outweighed any potential barriers it put up for competitors, an argument the EU would give little weight to. So Apple had valid reasons to think if they fought hard and smart enough they could win in the US, and fight they did. Unfortunately for them they still came out on the losing end but I think it was worth the gamble at the time. 

    Personally I expect little to come of this fact-gathering FTC look-see over Android, but in Europe I believe Google is going to have to make some significant changes to the agreements with OHA members. First to go will be the restrictions on marketing Android knock-off OS's if companies want to be OHA members. Of course Google won't like it but as we've seen in other recent cases against US techs it a fight hard to win and in the end the EU will almost certainly come out on top. European regulators and courts aren't showing any fondness for highly successful US companies. 
  • Reply 15 of 16
    Google is going to lose in Europe, remain locked out of China, continue losing ad revenue to Facebook and the biggest one, lose the Oracle lawsuit regarding the inappropriate use of Java. 

    Google is not going to win any of those four major challenges. And losing the oracle lawsuit means the company will be forced to pay licensing fees based on Oracles own terms or rewrite Android. Either scenario completely unpalatable to the company. 

    But Google, who steals the intellectual property of others, is facing their own Karma. They are reaping what they have sown. 

    I don't expect much to come of this lawsuit, but I do fully expect Google to lose to Oracle and to lose big in Europe. All while Facebook eats big time into Google's ad revenue. 

    All of this couldn't happen to a nicer company. I for one will not miss Google. 
    tmaybadmonk
  • Reply 16 of 16
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 775member
    Google is going to lose in Europe, remain locked out of China, continue losing ad revenue to Facebook and the biggest one, lose the Oracle lawsuit regarding the inappropriate use of Java. 

    Google is not going to win any of those four major challenges. And losing the oracle lawsuit means the company will be forced to pay licensing fees based on Oracles own terms or rewrite Android. Either scenario completely unpalatable to the company. 

    But Google, who steals the intellectual property of others, is facing their own Karma. They are reaping what they have sown. 

    I don't expect much to come of this lawsuit, but I do fully expect Google to lose to Oracle and to lose big in Europe. All while Facebook eats big time into Google's ad revenue. 

    All of this couldn't happen to a nicer company. I for one will not miss Google. 
    I so hope you are right.  Thanks for the post.
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