S. Korea drops antitrust investigation against Google

No laws were broken in the two-year case tied to the company's Android-based smartphones

By Zach Miners, IDG News Service |  Internet

South Korea has dropped a two-year anti-competition probe into Google's Android smartphone operations in that country, sources close to Google confirmed Thursday.

The investigation, which was based on claims that Google had pressured Android phone manufacturers to block search engines or other applications that rivaled its own, has ended with no finding of a violation of law, sources said.

Two Korean search engine operators, Daum and NHN, filed the claims with South Korea's Fair Trade Commission in 2011. Among other charges, Daum said Google had influenced Android-based phone manufacturers to block certain other software services from being placed before Google's search tools.

However, it has since been established that Google's Android business practices did not break any laws, the sources said. Google declined to comment on the case. Neither Daum nor NHN could be immediately reached for comment.

Google's position on Android is that it is an open platform and that other carrier and OEM partners are free to decide which applications and services to include on their Android-based phones.

Google still faces an ongoing antitrust investigation in Europe. The European Commission has been investigating Google since 2010 after rivals accused the company of gaming search algorithms to direct users to its own services and reducing the visibility of competitors.

Europe's competition chief confirmed on Wednesday that he had written to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt asking for better assurances related to those claims. Google declined to comment on that investigation.

Use of Android, the mobile operating system Google launched in 2008, is growing. The platform has roughly 900 million users, Google executives reported in May during the company's Google I/O conference for developers.

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