FTC seems relentless lately and it’s been trying to see if Google does anything wrong that would harm consumers. Apparently, they’ve now shifted focus from questioning Google about its search business where it’s dominant, and they’re focusing more on Android, and if Google forces manufacturers to use their own apps or not.
I find this very odd. Yes, Android is open source, and the manufacturers are indeed free to use the open source version if they want, and of course they’d lose access to the Android Market, but it’s still a choice they can make if they get frustrated with Google’s requests too much.
But shouldn’t Google be allowed to put their own apps in Android? You don’t see manufacturers complaining about Microsoft putting Office in WP7 by default. Will Microsoft allow other Office apps to be pre-installed on WP7? I don’t think so. And Office is dominating that specific market, just like Google search is dominating the search market. And I might agree with them looking into whether Google is forcing manufacturers to use Google search widget, although that’s very debatable as well.
But what about all the other apps Google is pre-loading? Most of them aren’t dominating in their own markets. So then what is the problem with Google saying “Hey, look – we give you the Market and Gmail and Maps, if you also agree to put Google+ and Google Music, etc, in there”. I don’t see a problem with that. Plus, I don’t think Google restricts them from using competing products on the same phone. HTC has used a map application from TomTom before, together with Google Maps.
Plus, if they actually think about punishing Google over this (no sign of that yet), then how about they do some investigation on carriers who I’m sure force manufacturers to use certain apps, too. And from what I’ve noticed customers are lot more annoyed with that kind of bloatware than with Google’s own products and services. In fact, a lot of Android customers actually want a pure Android experience, with all Google’s services, integrated with each other for a better experience.
I don’t think FTC has a real case here, but they say they will narrow their focus by the end of the year, and expect this investigation to end around mid-2012.