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FTC Probes Android and Google Search 139

bonch writes "The FTC is investigating claims that Google prevented Android smartphone vendors from using competing services (covered previously), whether Google preferentially places its own services above others on the search results page, and whether Google scraped content from competitors for use in its own services. FTC lawyers are also asking how Android may be helping Google maintain its massive web search lead. Google denies all allegations and blames jealous rivals for the growing number of probes. The European Commission's own antitrust probe is ongoing."
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FTC Probes Android and Google Search

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  • Whenever I see the word "probes" in a headline, it seems like the first thing that occurs to me is anal probes. It seems like they'd just as easily be able to use "investigates" and avoid this connotation.

    Of course, the little green man graphic didn't help that any either.

    • It seems like they'd just as easily be able to use "investigates" [instead of "probes"] and avoid this connotation.

      They use "probes" to save space, the same reason people use "M$" instead of "Microsoft" in Slashdot comment subjects, and the same reason you use "V." and not "Vorokrytin" in your Slashdot username. Let me open Python:

      >>> len("investigates") - len("probes")

      • They weren't running short of space by any stretch, though. Just looking down the homepage I can see several stories with much longer headlines:

        FTC Probes Android and Google Search
        'Electronic Skin' Grafts Gadgets To Body
        Review of IBM's Original Personal Computer
        US Energy Panel Cautiously Endorses Fracking
        Why Companies Knowingly Ship Insecure Devices
        BitTorrent Trial Makes Australia's High Court
        China Catches Up With Google's Driverless Car
        Researchers Make Graphene From Girl Scout Cookies
        Scientists Modify Orga

        • by tepples ( 727027 )
          Slashdot headlines are often minor rewordings of the headline of The Featured Article. "FTC Sharpens Google Probe" is the headline of the article in The Wall Street Journal.
    • Your anal fixation is not the submitter or editor's problem.

  • by Shompol ( 1690084 ) on Friday August 12, 2011 @01:08PM (#37070222)
    Bing (Microsoft product) paid Verizon (a near-monopolistic wireless carrier) to do exactly this. Google search was scraped from all the Blackberries, and possibly other phones as well, even though Google was the default search engine when customers purchased the device. This was done openly and for some reason FCC took no interest in the event. At least now we know who's pocket FCC is sitting in.
    • by zget ( 2395308 )
      Bing isn't a monopoly or a market leader. Google pretty much is.
      • Just like Microsoft Windows pretty much is? How did that anti-trust case turn out?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Bing isn't a monopoly or a market leader. Google pretty much is.

        Excuse me? The US Department of Justice has something else to say about that.

        Bing (Which is not even a company name, the company name is Microsoft) is most Certainly a convicted monopoly!

        It's been in a few papers.. []

        Care to show me the same court case for Google? Oh right, you can't, because that case never happened.

      • Er, Google has something like 65 percent of the search market in the US. Hardly a monopoly.
    • Yeah, but Bing is not a dominant search player (Google is) and the fact that MS had to pay Verizon/RIM to default to Bing is only a testament to the TFA subject.
      • Bing is not a dominant search player

        Dominant is not what is at issue. The question is one of monopoly and Google is not a monopoly at 65 percent share in the US.

        Furthermore, RIM released their smartphones with Google because they wanted to. Asking Verizon to change it costs money so of course MS had to pay. Do you think Vzw would change Bing to Google on their windows phones for free? You are basically saying anybody should just be able to waltz into Verizon HQ and get the default search on all of their smartphones changed on a whim. G

    • Android-based smartphones from Verizon also use Bing as the default search provider. So it appears that Google will allow carriers to customize that aspect of the phone.

      The main questions are: did Verizon have to put up a fight with Google over the change, or did Google not really care? Is there much interest from the carriers in changing the default search engine? Are any other carriers even making this change (like Chinese carriers using Baidu as opposed to western search engines)?

    • by OhHellWithIt ( 756826 ) * on Friday August 12, 2011 @03:04PM (#37072240) Journal

      I remember this very thing. When I complained to Verizon, their reply could be summarized as "Tough cookies!" When I got my new phone, all the Verizon stuff went into a folder labeled "VZ crapware", and I installed the Google apps instead.

      Verizon is remarkable for their ability to annoy me just shy of the point where I will change carriers.

  • Who uses bing anyway? Oh wait those poor souls who are forced to use MSIE at work.
    • by Desler ( 1608317 )

      Yeah, Microsoft allows no options to change that. Oh wait, no one is forced to use it because it is trivial to change.

      • Oh wait, no one is forced to use it because it is trivial to change.

        Trivial for the user, or trivial for the Group Policy administrator and locked out for the user?

  • FTA "FTC lawyers have also asked about the growing influence of Android and how it may be helping Google maintain its lead in Web search. Google's search engine is the default for many phones built using Android." I hope that all these people look at the back of the phones, and see the "with Google (tm)" logo... That's effectively notifying everyone that Google products are going to come with the device. Why should Google package Yahoo! search with the OS that they developed. IANAL, but I feel that Googl
    • I agree. Though Microsoft basically did the same thing with Internet Explorer and got into a lot of hot water, so it's hard to say.

      Last I checked Apple controls their platform pretty tightly aswell and forces you to use the iTunes store for everything. Why isn't Apple being investigated for not allowing competiting app stores (without jailbreaking). Why is Apple allowed to tie their services to their platform and Google isn't? Seems a bit ridiculous to me.

  • Apple has finalized their purchase of the FTC.
  • Google's defensive posture is getting a little tired, and less and less effective. They think the answer to their legal troubles is a massive PR campaign. "It's not us, it's just that our competitors are jealous!" "We're not infringing on patents, we're just being oppressed, victimized systematically by these outrageous patent litigation abusers!"

    I'm starting to ignore Google's pleas for understanding. These are not legal defense arguments. They're red herrings, and they're terrible ones at that. They're
  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Friday August 12, 2011 @03:01PM (#37072204) Homepage

    Google does block competitors from Android phones, but it's not because they're Android phones. Anyone can make an Android phone and use any search-engine default, any advertising network, that they want. What Google does is say that if you want to use the Google brand on the phone you can't use non-Google services on it. To me that seems to be a completely valid use of their trademark, and has nothing to do with their position in search. You want an Android phone that doesn't put Google front-and-center? Look for one that isn't Google-branded. And as far as I know Google does nothing whatsoever to stop anyone from making a non-Google-branded Android phone, correct?

  • by BOUND4DOOM ( 987004 ) on Friday August 12, 2011 @03:04PM (#37072234)
    When I went to get my droid device and switch from Windows Mobile way back when. I was on AT&T, I would have stayed with them as well except they had 2 Droid devices at the time and they had not only changed but locked in Yahoo as the only search engine. You couldn't change it. So I switched to Verizon. Anyway the Android operating system not only can have the search changed by the manufacturer, but also by the provider. So not sure why there even would be an investigation in the matter.
    • Just don't buy your phones from your cell phone operator (at least you can do it with AT&T)? Doing otherwise is practically inviting to be raped eventually. Good example is AT&T ripping out tethering from their Android phones, or Verizon blocking tethering apps in the Market.

  • A phone which says powered by Google on the back which has the Google logo on it, runs an operating system that was created by Google, uses Google search as the default?

    Say it ain't so!

    Mind you there's absolutely nothing stopping competitors, nothing stopping you installing an alternative browser, nothing stopping Samsung or HTC installing a Bing search bar in the phone, nothing stopping the ISP from including different defaults in the CSC.

    Completely unlike Microsoft which says you will install windows on y

Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat. -- Christopher Morley