South Korean authorities are reported to be looking at whether Google interfered with Samsung’s development of an alternative to Android, The Korea Times said.
The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), which has taken aim at Google in the past, is “currently checking if Google thwarted competition in the OS market”, the paper said.
The probe stems from agreements signed by Samsung and Google as far back as 2011, including the Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA), which required Google apps and services to be positioned front-and-centre, and an Anti-Fragmentation Agreement (AFA) which curtailed Samsung’s abilities to go its own way.
While Samsung worked on the development of an alternative smartphone platform called Tizen, this has only been used in a handful of smartphones which target feature-phone upgraders in India. With low-cost devices and content bundles, the company mitigated against weakness when compared with the more established Android apps-and-content proposition with price.
Tizen was adopted by the South Korean devices giant in wearables and smart TVs as well.
According to The Korea Times, while KTFC already looked at MADA, the investigation into AFA is newer. It may also need to renew its MADA findings due to the further development of the market.
While Tizen showed promise on several occasions, with some high-profile backers in addition to Samsung, this potential has never been fulfilled. In contrast, Android has gone from strength to strength, with its large customer base leading to the creation of a large supporting content ecosystem.
While there have long been concerns about the influence of Google in the proposition, so far none of the efforts to mitigate this have reaped rewards.