April 15, 2011

Google Faces Antitrust Accusations in South Korea

The largest Internet search player is under fire over in South Korea.

Google (News - Alert) is facing antitrust accusations in regards to its Android phones, which are top over in South Korea. NHN Corp. and Daum Communications Corp., operators of South Korea’s two largest Internet search sites, said in statements today they filed complaints with the country’s Fair Trade Commission for blocking local phone carriers and manufacturers from embedding their search applications in devices using the Android (News - Alert) operating system.

This is only lending to global scrutiny of Google’s business practices.

"Through a marketing partnership with major smartphone producers, Google has prohibited other market players from pre-installing their search window or related applications," NHN said in a statement.

They continue to claim that this blocks opportunities for companies offering similar services to compete on a level playing field as well as restricting consumers' choices.

What's more, it is said to discourage the growth of the mobile Internet market. This is because telecoms operators and handset makers "will not be encouraged to offer differentiated products and services."

Of course, Google has denied said accusations, citing it has never pressed device manufacturers or mobile operators to use its mobile platform.

"Android is an open platform, and carrier partners are free to decide which applications and services to include on their Android phones," says Google.

However, IP expert Florian Mueller doesn't agree, claiming it is "perfectly clear that Android is not open, and Google's partners are not free to choose applications and services."He said that the antitrust complaints in Korea were just the cherry on the top of a very large and messy cake, and a clear example that Android isn't as open as it seems.  (via TechEye)

South Korea is one of the few countries where Google's search business has long struggled. Three top players dominate 90 percent of the local search market where Google has never taken more than 5 percent share.

Google, however, has witnessed a growth in the mobile search engine market as advanced, feature-packed mobile gadgets have become popular in Korea.

Michelle Amodio is a TMCnet contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Janice McDuffee