Android gets pulled into FTC antitrust probe

by Kristen Nicole

The FTC probe looking into Google’s key areas of business has been narrowed down to include Android, reports The Wall Street Journal. Six weeks after being subpoenaed for broad investigation purposes, the Federal Trade Commission, along with several state attorneys general, are now curious as to how Android got so popular and whether Google prevents its smartphone makers from using competitors’ services. Google’s highly integrated mobile offering has certainly raised a few flags with the FTC. Android’s become a nexus of Google Apps and services, extending search, maps, and social capabilities to smartphones around the world.

Sweet and sour success

Google’s certainly facing a lot of pressure right now, a good portion of it mounting around Android. The mobile OS has attracted vicious retaliation from rivals like Apple, Microsoft and Oracle, and its mobilizing business tactics are coming under fire as well. Android has been so successful because Google is able to leverage its existing search business and other apps, but it may be a bittersweet win for Google.

Android looks fishy but how badly does it stink?

There are a few things that may have caught the attention of antitrust investigators, as ZDNet points out, including Android’s skyrocketing market share amongst global mobile operating systems. Android’s winning in smartphone sales too, taking nearly 44 percent of the market for Q2, according to a Gartner report. Google has also been able to minimize end-user costs by making money off search. Mobile ads look quite promising for Android as well, contributing nicely to Google’s bundle of services, spanning email, calendars, places, media hubs and more.

But these reasons don’t make for strong evidence in the FTC case. As ZDNet concludes, the investigation will likely hit a dead end. Android’s launch came at a time where few competitors could offer a viable alternative to iOS, and Microsoft may eventually catch-up in this space, rounding out the trio of smartphone device/OS powerhouses. And though Android-powered smartphones do favor certain Google services, consumers have more options than some of their iOS counterparts when it comes to browsers, search and app stores.