The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is probing Google’s Android activities, related to the prioritisation of its own products and services over rivals, Bloomberg said.
Apparently, the FTC has reached an agreement with the Justice Department to lead the investigation, and has met with representatives from the tech sector about the issue. But it noted that the inquiry is at its early stages, and there is no guarantee there will be further action.
In April, the European Commission opened a similar investigation, looking into whether Google had limited the potential of its rivals by “requiring or incentivising” manufacturers to support its products and services.
While the Android platform itself is open, in order to access Google’s products and services vendors need to agree to take its whole portfolio and position them prominently.
This means that for a vendor to offer access to, for example, the Google Play content store, it must also support Google’s mapping, mail and other propositions – despite alternative products being available.
And the search giant has also been on the wrong end of action in Russia, where it was accused of “abusing market dominance” following a complaint from search rival Yandex.
Google has defended its position by arguing (with some justification) that it “helps manufacturers of Android devices compete with Apple, Microsoft and other mobile ecosystems that come preloaded with similar baseline apps”.
Bloomberg said that the new investigation comes two years after a separate FTC probe into Google’s search activities, which left some players sceptical of the agency’s willingness to bring a case.