South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission watchdog has acquitted Google of anti-competitive charges following a two-year-long investigation, Yonhap News reports.
The FTC had reportedly reviewed the case and concluded that Google’s pre-load requirement does not constitute as hurting market competition. An unnamed FTC official told Yonhap News:
Before and after Google’s push to force the preload of the Android operating system, its domestic market share remains almost unchanged at around 10 percent, while Naver (the portal of NHN) still maintains more than 70 percent… This does not satisfy the competition-restricting condition, which is one of the major issues of this case.
The FTC also reportedly arrived at its decision after concluding that mobile users can “easily” find alternatives to Google’s search engine.
The charges stem from April 2011, when domestic search rivals Naver and Daum accused Google of hurting fair market competition. The two firms claimed the US Web giant forced Android phone makers to pre-load its search engine on devices, giving it an unfair advantage. The claim is particularly notable since Android dominates the country’s smartphone market —StatCounter estimates that it has a 90 percent share.
Google previously insisted that Android is an open platform and it does not require carriers or manufacturers to include Google Search or Google applications on Android-powered devices.
South Korea is not the only country where Google is facing such charges of using the Android platform to aid its other businesses. In April this year, Fairsearch Europe lodged a similar complaint to the European Union, claiming that Google uses the Android mobile operating system “as a deceptive way to build advantages for key Google apps in 70 percent of the smartphones shipped today” and giving services like Google Maps, Search, Gmail, etc. — an unfair advantage over competing services.
Google declined to immediately comment on the ruling. Korea’s FTC has not updated its English-language site with a statement yet, but we will add more details when it lands.
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