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South Korean authorities have completed their second raid of Google this year. This time the investigation focused on allegations of Android competitive abuses.  (Source: AFP)
Asian nation is concerned about whether Android is blocking competitors' search engines

Has Google Inc. (GOOGbeen playing dirty with Android?  That's the allegation raised by some South Korean rivals.  The smartphone and tablet OS may be dominating in sales, but it's also drawing increasing antitrust scrutiny in both the U.S. and South Korea.

South Korea antitrust regulators' pending investigation of the Android accusations heated up this week with authorities raiding Google's Seoul offices, according to a Wall Street Journal 
report.   

In South Korea, search portal firms NHN Corp. (
SEO:035420) and Daum Communications Corp. (KDQ:035720) have accused Google of using their control of Android to block rival search portals on smartphones.  The companies do not accuse Google of overtly blocking their portals, rather they say that Google's bundling of a search engine with Android and making it labor intensive to "swap in" a different search amounts to an anticompetitive tactic.

An NHN spokesperson commented, "It does not allow fair competition among search engines if Android-based smartphone users come across Google Search whenever they touch the search engine icon, whether they want it or not."

South Korea's 
Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), the counterpart of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, is tasked with investigating these antitrust investigations. 

Currently NHN controls 52 percent of South Korea's mobile search traffic, with Google controlling 16 percent and Daum controlling approximately 15 percent.  Android plays a key role in the South Korean market with top tech conglomerates Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
SEO 005930) and LG Electronics Inc. (SEO:066570) using Android as their operating system platform of choice for tablets and smart phones.  

Google promises to work with the KFTC to resolve the dispute.  A spokesperson comments, "We will work with the KFTC to address any questions they may have about our business. Android is an open platform, and carrier and OEM [original equipment manufacturer] partners are free to decide which applications and services to include on their Android phones. We do not require carriers or manufacturers to include Google Search or Google applications on Android-powered devices."

This is the second time in just the last four months that South Korean police have raided Google's offices.  The 
prior raid came in May, for a separate issue that Google claims was an innocent mistake.  

Between 2006 and 2009 Google believes it 
"accidentally" collected a large amount of fragments of traffic on open wireless networks.  It says the collection occurred due to a piece of test code that was unwittingly incorporated into the Street View project -- Google's fleet of internet-equipped cars that offer a ground-level view of streets for mapping purposes.

In Europe Google has already been 
forced to hand data over to authorities.  And it faces further investigations in Canada and in four U.S. states.  In South Korea authorities are probing the incident thoroughly, combing through data they seized from Google's AdMob advertising service.

Google claims that it never used the collected data for advertising purposes, but South Korean authorities' thorough examination of AdMob would indicate that this might not have been the entire truth.  Nonetheless, Google has yet to face any official charges for the data collection in South Korea or elsewhere.

However, Google does face 
a broad antitrust probe in the U.S. and similar antitrust probes in the EU and Asia.  The company is also facing a pending class action lawsuit in the U.S. for the street view data collection and other U.S. lawsuits filed by mobile service providers who claim Google bullied partners into dropping their services.



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Oh not again...
By MrTeal on 9/7/2011 1:34:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The companies do not accuse Google of overtly blocking their portals, rather they say that Google's bundling of a search engine with Android and making it labor intensive to "swap in" a different search amounts to an anticompetitive tactic.


This is ridiculous. Of course Google included Google search with Android. Different providers are free to put whatever search they want on their phones, and many do.

If the end user really wants to search with another company, just set it to your home page and do it through there. Yeesh. Not every feature requires a user changeable option.




RE: Oh not again...
By Spikesoldier on 9/7/2011 2:20:36 PM , Rating: 2
right but the integration and how it is embedded into the os is akin to MS win98 fiasco with IE.

maybe google can handle it the same way where the end user chooses what they want to use during setup.


RE: Oh not again...
By MrTeal on 9/7/2011 2:45:32 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
right but the integration and how it is embedded into the os is akin to MS win98 fiasco with IE.


The whole point is that it is retarded that it is a fiasco. If I buy a Sony camera it's not anti-competitive that it's a PITA to use Canon lenses. Sure Sony's choice to use their own lens mount restricts my ability to go out and buy a Canon lens, but I knew that when I bought the camera.

When IE was integrated into Windows, it didn't prevent you from using Netscape to browse the internet, it just meant you had to go and download it, and some actions on the system would still use IE. Sure it meant that Netscape wasn't able to charge for their browser, but too bad for them. If my dealer wants to give me 5 years of free oil changes when I buy my car, JiffyLube is just going to have to suck it up and find some other way to get people to buy their services.


RE: Oh not again...
By Samus on 9/8/2011 12:37:36 AM , Rating: 1
Sony = Memory Stick

That's anti-competitive, isn't it?

Back to the topic, though. Who doesn't want Google as their default search engine. I mean come on. Seriously. I don't think any comsumers are complaining about this, because if somebody really wants to use another search engine, I will quote Apple and say...

"There is an App for that."

A quick search for "search" in the Android Market shows Yahoo, MSN Bing, and all kinds of other search widgets.

So, what, is Google suppose to include those third-party widgets with Android? That's ridiculous. Even more ridiculous than Microsoft bundling Firefox and Opera with Windows.


RE: Oh not again...
By Smartless on 9/7/2011 3:01:06 PM , Rating: 2
Shouldn't it be NHN's responsibility to come up with their own search engine widget? On the flip side, if Google has been blocking their search engines from their browser than they deserve to get hit but that's not likely. But that whole fiasco about IE should have opened the door for a whole bunch of other idiotic lawsuits. If that's the case, isn't AT&T being anti-competitive by not allowing side-loading apps on their the Captivate? Or Apple for including Safari as the internet browser? Heck why can't my Kindle read books from Barnes and Nobles.


RE: Oh not again...
By foolsgambit11 on 9/8/2011 3:45:36 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe, but is Android really in a market position similar to Microsoft's a decade ago? The issue with the Win98/IE case wasn't the fact that a company bundled two products together. The problem was that, with Microsoft's market position, it amounted to an unfair business practice. Android apparently has something like 60% of the smartphone market in South Korea (up from 3% at the beginning of 2010 - wow!). That might put them in a dominant-enough market position to face a similar fate to Microsoft, assuming Korean antitrust law isn't substantially different from American law (a big assumption, I know). On the other hand, Android probably isn't as entrenched as Microsoft; it's easier to change smartphone OSes than computer OSes. So their market share means somewhat less.


RE: Oh not again...
By nocturne_81 on 9/7/2011 5:11:18 PM , Rating: 2
This is just as laughable as the IE/Win fiasco was back then.. It's their product -- they can design it as they see fit! It's not like they are outright blocking competition, the competition just can't compete on their own merits.

I still have no idea how the MS anti-trust suit passed years back anyways.. it's not like they blocked you from installing a different browser, setting that browser as default, and changing .url file associations and link handling to open in said browser..


RE: Oh not again...
By TheEinstein on 9/7/2011 8:25:10 PM , Rating: 2
It is laughable.. and sad... but the truth is that once something succeeds in a US Court (and maybe European courts as well) it is LAW.

All the competitors need do is prove similarity (and to be frank it is very similar to Microsoft in general in how they were recently sued in Europe) and precedence.

Game over... Google just got hammered but the effects have not sprung yet. Time to drop some stock imo if you have it, and wait for the drop, then buy back


RE: Oh not again...
By seeker353 on 9/8/2011 1:36:07 AM , Rating: 2
How come Apple never gets sued for crap like this? They bundle Safari with everything, how is that any different?


RE: Oh not again...
By Nautilus957 on 9/8/2011 7:12:21 AM , Rating: 2
Point well put.

I use GMAIL and Google Search, so, I got an android phone as it just workes out of the box seamlesly with the google services I use. If I used Hotmail and Bing then i'd have probably got a Windows phone, just for the same reason.

quote:
The companies do not accuse Google of overtly blocking their portals, rather they say that Google's bundling of a search engine with Android and making it labor intensive to "swap in" a different search amounts to an anticompetitive tactic.

As mentioned, you can use what ever search provider you want, but google needed to add one so they added their own. I dont see why any company should have to openly advertise an oppositions product on a device they designed and invented. If a user wants a different search engine then they can add it them selves but i'd have thought that if you bought an android phone your partially buying it due to the google feature sets


"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer














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