US anti-trust regulators focus on Android
Google's mobile operating system Android is one of Google's activities that US anti-trust regulators are focusing on, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Sources familiar with the Federal Trade Commission investigation say that the FTC lawyers and several state attorneys general have been looking into allegations that Google prevents Android-using phone manufacturers from using services supplied by the search company's competitors.
Although not specifically mentioned, one potential example of this alleged behaviour is the current legal battle between Skyhook and Google. Skyhook sued Google in September 2010 claiming that Google had strong-armed Motorola into dropping its WiFi and cell tower positioning system from Motorola's Droid X smartphone. The case is ongoing, but when the results of discovery were unsealed they revealed Google's distribution deals gave the company extensive control over what software could be pre-installed on the devices shipped by phone manufacturers.
Although the FTC has not commented on the investigation, it is believed to also be looking into allegations that Google uses, for example, reviews of local businesses from competitors sites to build its own specialised services and that it gives preferential placement to its own products in searches. The official investigation started in June and is still at an early stage. Google says that it does not engage in unfair or illegal competitive practices; a Google spokesperson told the WSJ that they "understand that with success comes scrutiny. We're happy to answer any questions they have about our business".