Federal Trade Commission Focuses Investigation on Google’s Web Search and Android


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]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. It’s google’s fucking OS, they can make manufacturers do whatever the fuck they want! Ftc needs to quit fucking around with Google and focus on Apple and microsoft

    1. Actually, by law, they can’t. What they’re investigating is, basically, blackmail; Google cannot coerce OEMs into only using Android. Moreover you act like the FTC can only focus on one operation at a time I’m sure Microsoft is being investigated in some form and I’m sure the amount of lawsuits Apple is filing has caught someone’s attention.

      I love Google but if they have nothing to hide there’s nothing to fear from this investigation.

      1. You’re too logical and level headed, Mr. Keaser….. we don’t like that ’round here. o_O

        1. Chris.. I don`t care how the system works in the world, the FTC and Aple wrong all the way, the FTC and all the judges getting paid by Aple and Microsoft…..How can the people get confused between the Samsung Tablet and the Ipad…And Google.It shows Apple losing the market share, and their products going down hell and they are fraid of Android market.

          1. You have proof of Apple and Microsoft paying judges? Please present it. Otherwise STFU

          2. I don`t have to proof anything to you or to anyone, just read the two companies how did they established! I have not seen any injuction have been taken on any of the two companies.

        2. Can’t tell if trolling…


          1. This thread has gotten too hot! I’m out! xD

      2. Um, an OEM has a choice. They DON’T have to use Android, period. Also no one has to use Google to search the web. There have been many others since the dawn of the Web. So there is a choice. Even if Google is promoting their own services first, that’s their prerogative. They’ve become number one on the quality and reliability of the service they provide, NOT, by coercing anyone. Have you seen the number of search providers available on the web?

        Also if anyone should be investigated, it’s Apple. They have been using anti-competitive practices starting from the parts supply chain for their devices right down to the software choice for sycing, app purchases and online music. Believe me, iPhone users have a lot less choice than Android users.

    2. hah what?

      it’s ok for Google to get away with it, but not those other companies, eh?

      fandroid indeed.

    3. “focus on Apple and microsoft”

      LOL. It’s funny because it’s true.

    4. Android is open source. Google can’t make anyone do anything with Android.

      What IS NOT open source are Google’s key applications like Maps, Google Search widget, and most importantly Google Market.

      Play by Google’s rules or you don’t get those apps.

      Archos for example makes devices that don’t have Google’s apps.

      Android, as a platform, would continue even if Google disappeared off the face of the earth tomorrow.

  2. Just did a quick search of restaurants; “Places” were the top results but, to be fair, it wasn’t very clear that it was a Google provided service so if anything the FTC might require them to make there results more clearly there’s. On the other hand the Places were also more useful and comprehensive so there isn’t much of a point to use anything else.

    1. I just did a couple of searches and places didn’t even come out once. On oen search however yelp showed up. I would however have considered normal that their services comes up more often since it can be more easily indexed by the Google search engine than a competitor’s site.

  3. Doesn’t number of clicks increase the ranking on the search? Google provides excellent services, people use them because they want to, not because Google shove them down our throats.

    More people visiting a site = higher ranking. Google doesn’t even have to play dirty.

    If their search/email/maps were horrible and hardly would be far more likely.

  4. This is just plain fucking stupidity. A google search is defined by the algorithms set for any other search engine. There’s nobody behind the curtain. There is no Wizard and kansas is just kansas. Does the FTC really believe that a bunch of transmogrified monkeys are slamming away at Hamlet on their typewiters too? Thos kind of shit just reinforces my

    1. Hey, if you do have an infinite amount of monkeys typing away, who knows, the likelihood you landing Hamlet may very well happen.

      But to be serious, FTC just wants to figure if Google’s search algorithm doesn’t have something like, “if client looks for anything, then find it on our services first and post it as first ranking, else just post the results.”

      The algorithm should not discriminate. But also these people need to understand that the algorithm that Google uses is based on a lot of data mining in the backend. Some companies like JCPenny were able to scalp the algorithm during the Christmas holidays and Google had to go and change the algorithm to disable some ranking.

      Furthermore, I hate using anything, but Google search. Super accurate and always handy. Try to do the same thing on Bing and you’ll kill yourself 5 minutes into your search.

      Hence when anyone asks me a question, I always respond with LMGTFY.

      1. I have to agree, Google search is the best. Bing sucks!!! We are all bright people~when I search on Google, I look for the best answer to my question not the first thing that pops up.

        1. Same here. Whenever I do a search with Bing, I almost always never find what I want and usually ends up going to google and find my answer in a few seconds.

      2. Not for nothing I wish they would make Google stuff pop up first. Every time I use Google to search for stuff I get Yahoo Answers or Yahoo Reviews or Yahoo Shopping. I gets no Google love on Google.

  5. So then how about apple uses something other than safari. This is plain fucking stupid I mean come on if they are going after google might as well go after microsoft since they cant touch the os and all have to use bing on wp7. What a joke, just another waste of tax payer dollars by the socialists.

    1. Apple is the second richest entity on the face of the planet.

      1. So they get out because they have money? Cuz google had lots of money too.

  6. Either Google is really this evil or something else is going on. It seems like everyone is ganging up on them. What are we missing?

    1. They are winning and other companies are scared

  7. Imo you would not have bloatware, sense, touchwiz, kindle……I could keep going!

  8. That’s a nice search engine you got there. Be a shame if something should happen to it…

    Government’s true power is derived from the ability to enforce laws selectively. You’d be in jail tomorrow if the government decided that it was necessary to put you there, and it would be perfectly legal. The only thing stopping them from deciding the winners and losers in the marketplace is the principled observance of ethics. Now that is a scary thought.

    1. This comment not only blew my mind… but now has be looking outside my windows every 5 minutes O_O

  9. . 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.

    you know what’s wrong?? the at&t and tmobile merger..i dont see them goign nuts over that..which they should

  10. WTF is going on with FTC?!?!?!!? Seriously WTF?!?!?! WTF, WTF, WTF, FTC!!!!!?????!!!?!?!??!!


  11. The FTC should look into Microsoft WP7 and see how Microsoft “bribed” Nokia to only produce WP7 from now on.

    1. They should look into Elop who is running Nokia into the ground because he owns an ass load of Microsoft shares

  12. Just like Facebook has lobbyist, so does every other major player. All crApple, Microsoft, Blackberry or Nokia have to do is put enough money in the right pockets & places and suddenly people (FTC) start asking questions simply to raise speculation. And we should all know the good & the bad with market speculation or consumer speculation by now…

  13. This is just another example of the Government overstepping it’s bounds and trying to make money off of the free market…I seriously can’t see what they got on Google, because everything is free, i mean you have to pay liscensing rights if your selling one o ftheir products however Google is simply so big because so many of their products are SUPERIOR!!!! This is simple b.s. that is just meant to scare google…not like the government regs ever did anything in an era of mergers, Ma Bell is almost completely reunited under a STRONGER AT&T flag, airlines are increasingly coming back to become one single carrier…may the person with the best product win, I thought that’s what FREE ENTERPRISE is built upon and why it won the cold war over the socialist system…

    I hope we vote all these govn’t jackasses outta office in 2012…I’m tired of this s***

  14. This is fucking stupid. The FTC should be investigating Apple before they ever investigate Google. Fuck the FTC.

    1. preach it brotha!

  15. Seriously the FTC should be focusing on Apple and Microsoft, ATT/T Mobile merger, not Google. What a fucking waste of my tax dollars by the socialists/progressives running this country.
    The rich will get richer, the poor will stay poor, and the middle class will shrink. This country is fucked.

    1. I liked your comment except for the part about this being caused by “socialists/progressives”. You do realize the republicans are every bit as responsible for this, don’t you? BTW, I’m an Independant (before you claim bias). Corporations and special interests are in bed with both parties, it all depends on which lobbyist group spends the most money on either (or both) side of the aisle. You can request a lobbyist list from your local representatives and see just who the lobbyists are supporting, and you can see which lobbyists your representative supports. And if you were wondering, Apple spends lots of money on lobbyist groups every year.

      So please, the next time you’re going to spout off about one political party, stop and think about how much the opposite is responsible as well. The problem isn’t going to get solved until people start taking notice that it is both sides, and stop playing the blame game. It’s the crooked politicians in general, not one party or the other. Seek campaign finance transparity and demand that campaign funding be capped at a rate that non-coporate/special interest sponsored candidates can actually compete.

  16. I honestly don’t see how this is even a trial. When I go to Google, I use it with the intent of being in the Google ecosystem. They are a business and it only makes sense that their products would come first. The only way I have a problem with this is if they are completely omitting a site from a web search, specifically a site that actually contains the info you want.

    If that site still pops up second in the search results behind the first, I’m okay because it will only take me another half a second to glance and see it there.

    Check out my new tech blog: Broke Man’s Tech

  17. I just wish we had someone now like the founding fathers to actually have some morals and not be all about the money. This country is falling apart and it is all because of our shotty officials.

  18. I don’t know why anyone is surprised. Every major company has probably been investigated by the FTC at one point in time and it will continue in the future. Apple has been investigated. Microsoft has been investigated. It really doesn’t take much to start one. It’s there job.

  19. Am I the only one thinking there is something fishy about Google being under the microscope while a company like Apple, that has a death grip on anything and everything on their hardware and software, is on currently on god-mode in the courts vs any competition? Is there some sort of conspiracy between Oracle, M$, and Apple vs google and its partners?

    1. I think there definitely is. Google doesn’t play by the old boys rules. They have bust onto the scene with something the others feel they can’t compete with because of the model and its taking the world by storm. This investigation just seals that belief for me.

      Google can do what it wants with its search rankings because 1. its not the only search engine in town and 2. theres nothing locking you in to using it. 3. Google is in no way stopping anyone else from opening a better search engine. If those things weren’t true then I’d say the FTC has a case. But they aren’t. Fact is no one seems to be able to figure out how to beat Google and MS had to resort to copying Google’s results to even keep up.

      As for the Android case I dunno. Some may compare it to MS and being forced to offer alternative browsers. But Android doesn’t have 90% market share. And even when it does ;-) it won’t force you to use it the way the Windows ecosystem forces you to have to deal with Windows just to work with someone else using Windows. There are other OSes readily available for the OEMs to use or they can simply not use the Google services and still use Android with another market like Amazon. Android is just too open for any case like this to make sense.

  20. They should take a gander at the itunes app store. If we’re talking about unfair practices then I think forcing companies to give up their own profits to Apple just for the pleasure of using the “mighty” iPhone is ridiculous. If you wanted a yelp review… then you would’ve gone to yelp’s website.

  21. They are looking into android because of the skyhook wireless case. The emails sent within google talking about android as a “club” are pretty incriminating. Look it up.

  22. Wow they are retarded….

    tell the idiots to google “shopping” and they will see that google shopping is on the 3rd page…. case closed.

  23. Do a Google search for “restaurant reviews” and you will see the top 5 results returned (in order):
    Google Places

    Sounds like the FTC has a good case on their hands!

    1. Heck, search for search engine. Clearly Google is gaming their own system.

  24. Somebody should be investigating Apple’s numbers more than anything. All these reports of growth and sales yet they barely increase by 1% in market share. Meanwhile the numbers on Android adoption all back each other but naysayers still take issue with the 550,000 activations a day number.

  25. I really dont get what the big deal is. Google web search is the best option, Gmail is the best option, Android is the best option. If they were making a shitty product, and doing evil things then I get it. But they offer the best product. Everyone has been on Googles ass for years. Instead of complaining that they are taking customers from you, make something that we want instead of the trash youve been pumping out.

  26. As for Google’s search results, there is already court precedent about this. Some years ago Google was sued by some Spam Engine Optimization company. I think it was called Search King, or Spam King or somesuch.

    Google’s defense was on 1st amendment grounds. Free speech.

    The court agreed. Google’s search results are Google’s OPINION on what is most relevant to your search query. The reason people use Google is because people like Google’s OPINION. Otherwise, they can use another engine whose OPINION they like better on what results match their query.

    For example Bing. Especially when it was first unveiled. Try “binging” for words like “Linux” or “open source”. I didn’t care for Bing’s opinion at all.

    If Google wants to promote their own services, then that is also Google’s opinion on what users want. Nobody is making users continue to google the web by using Google.

  27. Wasting tax payer dollars going after crap like this while we have bigger issues with Patent Trolls. What about the fact that the iPhone forces people to use Apple system apps with no alternatives? Oh wait but if I Google places there product a bit higher on search results, that’s a much bigger deal then just having no option but Apple’s services…

  28. just Google “web search” and Yahoo came before Google itself did, Googled “search engine” and Bing came before Google

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