updated 05:55 pm EDT, Tue September 6, 2011
Korea launches into raids on Google on Android
South Korea's Fair Trade Commission raided Google's offices in Seoul on Tuesday over questions of anti-competitive search practices in Android. The objective of the raid was kept secret but is believed to be checking claims from local search engine makers Daum and NHN that Google was unfairly restricting what default search options phones could use. Google in a statement said it would cooperate but reiterated its position that Android was reportedly open.
"Android is an open platform, and carrier and OEM partners are free to decide which applications and services to include on their Android phones," Google said. "We do not require carriers or manufacturers to include Google Search or Google applications on Android-powered devices."
The statement sidesteps some of the core worries about Google's licensing structure. Although it's possible to use Android without using Google search, access to key apps and favorable branding is usually dependent on how much of Google's experience phone designers are willing to carry. Concerns exist that LG, Samsung, or another company might be blocked or at least discouraged from replacing the Google search widget and similar tools with one from Daum if they don't want to also risk an inferior device without Gmail, YouTube, and other key apps.
Google might be keen to avoid a repeat of what happened last year with the Samsung Fascinate. Verizon in a deal with Microsoft had made agreements to use Bing searches and apps by default on some phones but drew criticism when the initial release actively blocked attempts to load Google's own search back. The restrictions were lifted with Android 2.2 half a year later but may have influenced Verizon's decision to turn down the Galaxy S II.