Google Said to Be Under U.S. Antitrust Scrutiny Over Android

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Five Things Everyone Will Be Talking About Today.

Yellen is Team 2015, Google is said to be under U.S. antitrust scrutiny, and the emerging market currency rout continues. The news organization reports that two sources familiar with the matter tell it that “the Federal Trade Commission reached an agreement with the Justice Department to spearhead an investigation of Google’s Android business.” Officials are said to have been meeting with tech industry representatives complaining about the way Google prioritizes its own services on Android.Already in the crosshairs of European regulators because of Android’s dominance, Google could now be facing a second antitrust investigation in the U.S. involving its mobile operating system. The dollar strengthened, with a gauge of the currency heading for its biggest weekly gain in two months, following a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen yesterday evening where she said the central bank is on track to raise rates later this year. After three years of planning, the European Commission announced that it was opening a formal investigation into claims of unfair practices by Google earlier this year.

Regardless, it shows the FTC is again turning its attention to one of America’s biggest companies, two years after it closed a separate investigation into Google’s Internet search business. The FTC’s handling of the earlier probe left some technology companies skeptical of the agency’s willingness to bring a case, according to the people.

Volkswagen is set to appoint Matthias Mueller, currently head of the company’s Porsche brand, as its new CEO when the 20-person supervisory board meets later today. But it also opened its own inquiry into whether Google was abusing Android’s power by forcing manufacturers to accept unfavorable terms, or hurting competitors by bundling its own apps into the system. Google’s Android operating system accounted for 59 per cent of the U.S. smartphone market in the second quarter, while Apple Inc.’s iPhone software had 38 per cent, according to International Data Corp., a Framingham, Massachusetts-based market research firm.

However, if a company dominates the market for a certain product that is in high demand, and basically forces consumers to buy a complementary product, well, that’s a completely different story. The Malaysian ringgit fell to below 4.39 against the dollar for the first time since the Asian financial crisis in 1998, following reports that a Malaysian state investment company is being investigated by U.S. authorities. The Android mobile platform ties together several Google products, including search and maps, into one bundle, echoing the even more dominant Microsoft Windows platforms of nearly two decades ago. In 1998, the U.S. claimed Microsoft unlawfully protected its Windows monopoly by keeping computer makers from promoting Web browsers that competed with its Internet Explorer.

As already mentioned, Google has been investigated before, their Search business that is, but two years ago FTC couldn’t conduct a proper investigation because the commission voted 5-0 not to bring move forward with it. The Bank of Japan’s main inflation gauge dropped below zero, falling to minus 0.1 percent for August, as plunging oil prices and weak domestic demand were not offset by Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s monetary stimulus. If consumers can go to other manufacturers to avoid the bundled product, there’s likely no antitrust violation, First said. “The question for Android is do they really have sufficient market power, particularly in a world where there are other mobile-phone operating systems?” he said.

Google’s competitors were using the leaked document to “sow confusion and undermine the FTC’s conclusions,” Google’s director of public policy, Johanna Shelton wrote to the FTC on March 23. Two days later, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and two commissioners defended the decision to close the investigation, saying it had been in accord with recommendations from staff in the competition and economics bureaus. It has accused Google, Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. of wrongly billing consumers for unauthorized purchases made by children on mobile applications.

They are also examining whether handset makers are blocked from developing their own versions of Android, adding to Google’s worries in a region that makes up one-third of its revenue. Before reaching a final decision, the commission has to lay out its main concerns in so-called statement of objections, which gives the company an opportunity to respond.

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