Mobile

Apple subpoenaed by FTC in Google antitrust investigation (updated)

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Updated (1:12pm PT) with Apple’s decline to comment.

Apple is being subpoenaed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in its antitrust investigation of Google.

Apple declined VentureBeat’s request for comment.

According to Bloomberg, the FTC has requested documents related to Apple’s primary use of Google’s search function on its mobile devices: the iPhone, iPod, and iPad. Subpoenas have also been delivered to other handset makers with a Google relationship, according to the news site’s sources.

The focus seems to be on mobile advertising and whether Google is using its position of leadership to grab deals with mobile handset makers. These deals make Google the default search setting on mobile phones. With these deals in place, Google would ultimately have the most eyes on its mobile advertising, and thereby get the most revenue. This would leave competitors, such as Microsoft’s Bing, scrambling for scraps.

Recently, Google caused some antitrust rumblings outside of the mobile scene when it launched Search Plus Your World. This new search integration pushes results from its social network Google+ to the top of a person’s search query. For instance, search users will now see keyword-relevant photos, profiles, and posts from Google+ in their regular stream of results. Social competitor Twitter called the change “bad for the Internet,” complaining that Google did not include tweets into its search results. These social results can be turned off, however.

This is far from the only time Google has been investigated by the U.S. government. Prior to launching its newest privacy policy, members of Congress reached out to Google, concerned about what the new policy might mean for consumers. Google explained that it was trying to simplify its privacy policies, which at the time numbered in the 70s. It also meant being able to share customer data from one Google product to the next for advertising purposes. The company was not barred from making these changes, which it did on March 1st.

Despite the antitrust concern, the U.S. Department of Justice as well as the European Union both approved Google’s acquisition of mobile handset maker Motorola Mobility. The executed deal makes Google more vertical in its mobile arm, a cause for concern among Android smartphone creators who are now in competition with the mobile, social and search giant.

The FTC began its antitrust investigation against Google last year.

This story is developing. We have reached out to Google and the FTC and will update upon hearing back.

via Bloomberg News, Image courtesy of laihui


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