Aug 10th, 2011

It was only 6 weeks ago that the Federal Trade Commission served Google with subpoenas and we now have an idea what they were looking for. The FTC antitrust probe has reportedly locked their sights onto key Google businesses like the Android operating system and Google’s Web Search.

How is Android a target? Well, the FTC is investigating whether or not Google is preventing smartphone manufacturers that currently use Android from using other competitor services. To me, the answer would be an easy “NO” given the fact that there are and have been Android powered phones that did away with Google Search only to replace it with rival services like Microsoft’s Bing. If they’re talking about rival OS’s, HTC and Samsung manufacture a fair amount of WP7 phones. Next!

Also on the FTC’s investigation list is Google’s bread and butter, Web Search. The antitrust probe is inquiring whether Google is playing fair when it comes to other rival services, possibly placing their own products higher in search results (page rank) than rival products and services. For instance, when searching for a reviews on a restaurant, Google could be placing their Places review higher than say, Yelp. Still unsure how this works but I don’t see why Google wouldn’t or how this would even be “wrong” of them for doing so.

All of this is a pretty broad based inquiry mostly focusing on how Google is making their money. This also brings up the discussion as to whether or not Google is a public utility like a library that should be fair and open to everyone, or if they are a private business based primarily on their search service. If nothing else, this investigation could hinder Google’s future plans to expand their business beyond search.

[Via WallStreetJournal]