updated 11:50 am EDT, Sat April 30, 2011
FTC talking to firms in possible Google antitrust
The Federal Trade Commission is gathering information from technology firms for an investigation into Google's control of the search industry, possibly including in mobile, a trio of contacts claimed Saturday. Deliberately waiting on the Google-ITA deal, the agency was described as sending out civil investigative demands to unnamed companies that would legally require information. What that information was didn't come out of Bloomberg's sources but presumably centered on whether or not they were hurt by Google's terms.
Google still has the vast majority of search share worldwide and especially in the US. Microsoft claimed to have a 13.9 percent share early this year through Bing, but most of its share came from its deal with Yahoo rather than through its own gains. Outside of country-specific engines like China's Baidu, few have ever made significant gains through organic growth since Google took the lead.
The company doesn't usually block using different search engines or services but has drawn a formal EU complaint from Microsoft over what it claims are unfair restrictions on ads and mobile apps. Rival ad providers were supposedly being denied data they could use to conduct ad campaigns later. Google was supposedly also denying Microsoft access to the information it would need to make competitive YouTube app for Windows Phone 7 as retaliation for Bing.
Search isn't the only issue that has raised concerns of monopolistic behavior. Skyhook sued Google for preventing Motorola and others from using Skyhook geolocation code despite Google's insistence that Android was open.
Neither the FTC nor Google has commented on the accuracy of the story. The FTC usually waits before it has gathered enough information to pursue a case before going public, however.