back to article Not OK, Google! FTC urged to thrust antitrust probe into Android

Advocacy group Consumer Watchdog is calling on the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to follow the European Union's lead and bring antitrust charges against Google Android. The group said that following the European Commission's statement of objections this week against the Chocolate Factory, it would like to see the FTC put …

  1. ratfox Silver badge

    Consumer Watchdog...

    I'm sorry, but is it really useful to repeat that Consumer Watchdog is complaining about Google? On one hand, they hardly do anything else. On the other hand, they have no authority or standing to tell the FTC to do whatever. They have no credibility. They're like your embarrassing uncle who writes every month an opinion piece on how great Donald Trump is.

    Of course, these people are entitled to their opinion, and they are allowed to exercise their free speech rights. But it's hard to see the point to repeat it.

    1. ckdizz

      Re: Consumer Watchdog...

      Well, yes, if they're the one that put out the press release the story is based on.

    2. Ole Juul Silver badge

      Re: Consumer Watchdog...

      Frankly, I don't care who says it. It needs to be said.

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: Consumer Watchdog...

        Frankly, I don't care who says it. It needs to be said.

        Ok so how do you fix it then? I gather we already have Tizen, MIUI, and Amazon's FireOS as Android Alternatives. Prety much any (and I dare say every), Custom ROM that, you'd care to mention, ships without any GAPPs at all. Almost as pure an ASOP experience as you could get.

        Is this about the lack of love for Samsung, and Co's own App Stores? Perhaps if they'd to get on with PayPal, as a payment method that would work out for them more. But, yeah kinda pointless when you already have a Google Account for the PlayStore.

        Everybody has a problem, but when pressed to it very little substance of how to address the aforementioned problems.

        1. Tomato42 Silver badge

          Re: Consumer Watchdog...

          @Michael Habel: well, they could rule that it's illegal for Google to require an "all or nothing" approach to Play store. And rule that google can't revoke a phone manufacturer access to Play store just because they released a device with CyanogenMod preinstalled.

          1. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Re: Consumer Watchdog...

            First of all Cyanogen can not install GAPPs do to such copyrights that currently exist. Any fool that has the most basic grasp of what CyanogenMod is would already know that. As to becoming a ~failed~ OEM wanting to flog MediaTek Devices via the backdoor to add other el-cheapo Chinaphones into the mix. Just never seemed to pan out for 'em. Would have had to also agree to such contract terms with Google as say any other OEM (e.g. Samsung, HTC, Motorola etc...)

            Kinda sucks for them, But, again its a problem simply solved by marching over to Google, and slaming "OpenGapps" into the Search Bar. As the Meerkat say SIMPLES!

    3. Daggerchild Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Consumer Watchdog...

      Something has definitely changed recently. 'Consumer Watchdog' is pretty much one man who hates Google, not some neutral organisation. And they really hate Google, were funded to dig into Google, and have taken out video ads in Times Square to pump expensively crafted fear about Google (depicting Schmidt going after your children), and none of that is in any way deniable.

      And recently it became a primary source for The Reg when they understandably weren't before, despite the tune not changing.

      But most disturbingly, now if I say things like this, even if I give links showing their origins...

  2. Wade Burchette

    "Freezing out third-party apps"

    Can someone tell me why it is wrong for Android to block third party apps but perfectly okay, in the eyes of several governments, for Apple to do so?

    1. DryBones

      Re: "Freezing out third-party apps"

      It's not wrong. One can install them by sideloading as many people in China do to access third party stores. And get malware from. Oh, dear.

      Google simply refuses to list competing app stores in the Play Store. As is its right. The barrier to going outside it is pretty low.

      I primarily use Google because they're better than the rest. Sorry, Bing is a stupid name, too.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: "Freezing out third-party apps"

        and 3rd party maps, search, browser, mail, etc.

        If a manufacturer takes Android with Google Store (as opposed to AOSP), you need to install the Google apps and you aren't allowed to bundle competing apps with the phone.

        1. Michael Habel Silver badge

          Re: "Freezing out third-party apps"

          and 3rd party maps, search, browser, mail, etc.

          If a manufacturer takes Android with Google Store (as opposed to AOSP), you need to install the Google apps and you aren't allowed to bundle competing apps with the phone.

          So just host them on your very own App Store, like the BIG BOYs do, and put up big fat Ads at the top to cox people to try it. Assuming its any good... Doubtful. Then I'm sure word would get 'round. Besides where exactly are these fabled Third Party Apps anyway? I don't recall ever having so much as ever having seen a YouTube review, or an XDA Article about how to go GAPP-less.

          I can only hitherto suspect that there's likely as not a reason for this.

          1. Triggerfish

            Re: "Freezing out third-party apps"

            Besides where exactly are these fabled Third Party Apps anyway?

            Well there was the time they blocked Adblockers from the play store, I think at the time that would have counted as a decent thrid party app people would have wanted bundled into a phone.

            1. David 138

              Re: "Freezing out third-party apps"

              Ad blockers are no better than piracy for free websites!! You either pay for it or you get adverts. Having said that maybe anti virus solutions should start blocking ad networks that are either intrusive, carry malware or are facebook. There should be something more central to kill off bad add networks or force them to reform.

              1. Triggerfish

                Re: "Freezing out third-party apps" @David 138

                Ad blockers are part of an essential security suite and will stay that way until ad vendors

                a) start getting their shit together and work on making their networks secure.

                b) start delivering adds that do not ruin the browsing experience by blarting out noise, obscuring the content etc.

                I actually allow ad blockers on a couple of sites I use free because they are not so bad, and I do agree they do need to pay to maintain their sites. But only because they do not do any of that, the rest tough.

            2. Michael Habel Silver badge

              Re: "Freezing out third-party apps"

              @Triggerfish

              I don't have a problem with Google wanting to have control over its own App Store. Let us not pretend that Google is doing this for our benefit. Of course it's a personal Highway for them to push Ads at us. So it's a perfectly reasonable approach for them to want to block stuff like that.

              Of course it's my right to tap the Switch that allows me to sideload AdAway from FSecure's App Store. If that's really atmthe end of the day what this is about. Then where's the outrage for Cupertino then? Surly that lot are far more guiltier of such a practice then the Mountain View Chocolate Factory.

              I suspect this has more to do with Amazon though, in that Google blocked their crappy Jump though the hoops App. That you had to download from the PlayStore. To eventually get to the App you wanted in my case that would have been Prime Movies.

              1. Triggerfish

                Re: "Freezing out third-party apps"

                @Michael Habel

                I agree it is up to google who they let in on their own App store, it's my understanding though they have also been blocking the manunfacturers from having a choice on what apps they install, and by bundling play services so deeply in the android OS. Thats naughty.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: "Freezing out third-party apps"

      Oh dear Wade, here we go again for the hard-of-thinking...

      This is not about the ability to side-load from outside of the Google app-store, this is about the bundling of key Google data-slurping processes and the dependency on those in many apps. The reasons Google is abusing its position compared to Apple are:

      1) Apple make and sell phones. No other company uses iOS or Apple's store. Thus Apple can't pressure, say, Samsung or LG, or Motorola, etc, to bundle something in Apple's favour.

      2) Current market share (http://www.idc.com/prodserv/smartphone-os-market-share.jsp) shows that Android had (2015) 82.8% of the market compared to 13.9% for Apple's iOS. Once you are well over 50% you get enormous leverage in terms of compatibility, developer attention, etc.

      This, and in particular the forced installation of Chrome, is exactly the same as MS' abuse of its OEM licensing in the past. However, I doubt the US regulators will act, or if they do it will be shut down by a change of gov who happens to be "pro-business" (in other words, enjoying the lobbying funds).

    3. DougS Silver badge

      @Wade

      Market share.

      Which is why while I agree that the EU action is fitting with my understanding of EU competition laws, there is no reason for the FTC to investigate Google regarding Android in the US. They have a much lower market share in the US - higher than 50% but not much higher...certainly not near the threshold to be considered a monopoly under US law.

    4. Carling

      Re: "Freezing out third-party apps"

      When people don't have a clue what they are talking about. Then they are total idiots, If it wasn't for the free thinking European population who DON"T want to be controlled by American corporates

      Europeans are Free thinking people. They don't want everything in their daily lives to be controlled by the American corporates. Here is a prime example of being controlled by Google is >>> In today’s tech news >>> Google wants to take your temperature. Count your heartbeat. Watch your frown turn upside-down. The question is, to what end? Google has filed a patent application for technology that would allow it to monitor mobile-device users' vital sign and facial expressions, so it can adjust search results according to the emotional reactions they generate. But a much more powerful motivation exists for developing this technology, said Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey. If the technology works for Google, the Internet giant can make the technology work for (((ADVERTISERS))) McQuivey said. Google downplayed the patent application. "We hold patents on a variety of (((People Control ))) ideas

      If it was NOT for the Free thinking Europeans who control their Governments and law makers. Every computer in Europe would now be controlled by Microsoft, Who tried to forced every computer manufactures to install the M$ UEFI (Secure Boot System) that would only allow windows and M$ software to be installed, That would Freeze out other Free Open Source Operating Systems and Software. Europeans demanded that there be away to turn OFF the M$ SBS (Secure Boot System) so that other Free Open Source Operating Systems and Free Open Source Software could be install on their computers, and NOT be locked down & into using windows and M$ over priced over rated proprietary software. Europeans got what they asked for. Computer manufactures were forced by law to make it so that the MS SBS could be turned OFF,

      It's a well known fact that Americans are controlled by the American corporates from the day they are born to the day they die. If American Corporates could control the after life they would control that too. Americans need to start using their brains and start thinking for themselves They need to stop being controlled by Apple, Google & Microsoft,

  3. Michael Habel Silver badge
    Mushroom

    1: Bundling of Search... If I wanted to use bing (Zarquon forbid!), I'd have gone off, and gotten myself a Windows Phone. I would add something here to the note of iOS... But, Apple don't do search. And Chome has no less then Four other Providers for your searching pleasure.

    Yahoo

    Bing

    Ask

    AOL

    All at the reach of a Fingertip from those Three Dots, at the upper right hand corner. Perhaps they should be faulted for not advertising this?

    2. GAPPs a.k.a The other White elephant in the room. Why is it so hard to figure out that Android is otherwise Open Source, and YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO USE GAPPs... If you do not wish to? And, in point of fact must be manually installed post installation of any Custom ROM *cough* CyanogenMod *cough*, do to leagle copyright constraints. I dare say it isn't Google's fault that most people want GAPPs on their Devices. As its GAPPs that People want, and not necessarily Android itself.

    3. The App Store(s).... Of all the Samsung Devices I've ever had over the years, these largely also came with their own Samsung App Store. In fact infamously so... Go read some of the reviews for Samsung Push Service. Which pretty much lives for its App Store. Ok that maybe one thing, since the OEMs can rest some control (for now), on what actually lands on the Device. (i.e. Bloatware, that can never just be simply uninstalled simply.) But, where the heck does Amazon, and Co. get off balling that Google won't let them flog, their competing 'App Stores' from with-in Google's own Playstore? I don't get this one. Not one bit. I don't walk into a Lidl, and think I'm shopping at Aldi, much less Tesco's. This is pure over reach by a mile.

    Have I left anything out?

  4. paulf Silver badge
    Trollface

    Resolutions

    "Google has said it looks forward to working with the European Commission to resolve the matter."

    I imagine the "working with" will centre on the value of negotiable instruments placed in the brown envelope before it's delivered to the minister responsible to "resolve the matter".

  5. Kev99 Bronze badge

    "Discouraging handset makers from offering phones with forked versions of the Android OS" - So, they better after Microsoft too unless someone's been able to fu... I mean fork Windows.

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