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Google Android Cellphones The Courts

Google Hit With Antitrust Lawsuit Over Default Search on Android Phones 221

Posted by Soulskill
from the same-problems,-different-decade dept.
itwbennett writes: "A class-action lawsuit filed Thursday (PDF) accuses Google of strong-arming device manufacturers into making its search engine the default on Android devices, driving up the cost of those devices and hurting consumers. The suit does not argue that device manufacturers entered Mobile Application Distribution Agreements involuntarily, but that the market power of Google compels them to. 'Because consumers want access to Google's products, and due to Google's power in the U.S. market for general handheld search, Google has unrivaled market power over smartphone and tablet manufacturers,' says the suit."
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Google Hit With Antitrust Lawsuit Over Default Search on Android Phones

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  • I haven't heard a darn thing about the government getting out their government crow bar and prying Bing out of Windows 8. I am soooo sick of removing it manually in as many places as possible on my customers' new laptops!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Installing this piece of software will remove it: http://software.opensuse.org/131/en

      • If I install GNU/Linux in a virtual machine, I still get Bing when I tab back to Windows. If I install GNU/Linux on the bare hardware, I lose access to applications on which I depend that aren't usable in Wine.
        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by ShanghaiBill (739463)

          If I install GNU/Linux in a virtual machine, I still get Bing when I tab back to Windows.

          Solution: Don't tab back to Windows.

          If I install GNU/Linux on the bare hardware, I lose access to applications on which I depend that aren't usable in Wine.

          Solution: Install GNU/Linux on the bare hardware, and then run Windows in a VM.

    • Is Microsoft considered a monopoly still? Because if they aren't, then such issues are not illegal (at least, not from FTC viewpoint).
      • I too am curious as to whether Microsoft still holds monopoly market share. Can someone dig up figures for Microsoft's market share and installed base among computer operating systems with multi-window window managers in the United States? This market includes Windows, Windows RT, OS X, X11/Linux, and Samsung's recent versions of Android with multi-window mode. I chose multi-window multitasking as a rough metric for whether an OS is intended for focused activity [theplatform.io] or for play. I'm no Windows fanboy, but I do
    • by Tarlus (1000874)

      What irks me is how hiding the Bing shit from Windows Update is never permanent.

    • You haven't heard a darn thing about the government getting a crowbar and prying Google search out of Android, either.

      This is a class action lawsuit, filed by a couple lawyers from Iowa. It's not clear to me who is actually behind it.
  • Oh the humanity! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordLucless (582312) on Friday May 02, 2014 @10:19AM (#46898881)

    Because there is demand for a thing, business are forced to deliver it. Quick, someone stop it!

    • Re:Oh the humanity! (Score:5, Informative)

      by spacepimp (664856) on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:34AM (#46899653) Homepage

      They already have done this. There were Android phones where Verizon was paid to have Bing as the default.

    • by mspohr (589790)

      " 'Because consumers want access to Google's products, and due to Google's power in the U.S. market for general handheld search, Google has unrivaled market power over smartphone and tablet manufacturers,' says the suit."
      Businesses are giving consumers something they are demanding... so... what's the problem? Should we force businesses to give consumers something they don't want?

    • The power of Google compels you!

      The power of Google compels you!

      The power of Google compels you!

  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Friday May 02, 2014 @10:23AM (#46898917) Homepage

    Note that the plaintiffs are not the manufacturers, but two random owners of Android phones. This is nothing but lawyers abusing the U.S. legal system, trying to extort a settlement out of a big company.

    When is the U.S. going to get around to tort reform?

  • by pablo_max (626328) on Friday May 02, 2014 @10:25AM (#46898939)

    I am really asking.

    Class action suit admits that customers only want google for search and would not be willing to buy a phone that searched with Bing. How is following consumer demand anti-trust?
    There is a reason that everyone uses google and only google. Yes I know there are a couple people out there who use something else, but you are a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the user base.
    Also, I am not sure these guys know it, but Android is free to install.
    Should google be forced to let you use their product to make money without getting anything in return?

    • There is a reason that everyone uses google and only google.

      The main reason is that that is the default search on virtually all computer and mobile browsers.

      Of course it got to be the default search rather than earlier market leaders such as Webcrawler, Lycos and Altavista through quality innovations. But it retains it now through inertia, and because whilst other search engines are as good, none are a generation ahead. And that's what's needed to change an established monopoly.

      Also, I am not sure these guys know it, but Android is free to install.

      It's not really of interest to users, as they pay for a mobile phone - the BOM is not the

    • by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday May 02, 2014 @12:04PM (#46900013) Homepage Journal

      I'm not sure there's any specific demand for Google search per-se on mobile devices. For a search feature, perhaps, but if a phone were to be shipped with Bing installed and Google search disabled, few people would notice beyond the non-search features that for some reason Google bundles into their search app.

      I disabled Google Search on my phone a while ago. The reason, bizarrely, is that voice dialing is implemented by that app, and voice dialing has become so awful lately (unusable, actually) that combined with my temper when I get frustrated I consider it a dangerous feature to have even available as an option when I'm driving.

      Yes, you have to disable Google Search to disable voice dialing. No, that doesn't make any sense.

      But you can do it. And the only thing you notice related to search itself is that the largely unnecessary search box disappears from the Android main screen. Google Now obviously disappears too. And the next time you reboot, if you installed the Bing app, you'll find the search box has reappeared, only now it searches with Bing. Which is odd.

      And as someone who now uses a phone with Bing search installed instead of Google, I can honestly say that there's no advantage one has over the other. Not when it comes to actual search, anyway. And I doubt my mother would notice either.

  • It's just a friggen *DEFAULT*... unless the consumer can do nothing to change it, there should be absolutely nothing wrong with google being a default for search.

    Apple has *WAY* more lock-in than this, and they aren't being sued (or at least anytime anyone's ever tried, Apple never seems to lose).

    • by Splab (574204)

      Go ask Microsoft how that defense works out...

      • Microsoft also had much more than just the default setting, including a history of abuse that Google's worst behavior is nothing like, and control of about 95% of the consumer and business computer market.

        This case is nothing like Microsoft's case other than a company producing an operating system which defaults to their own products.

      • by thaylin (555395)
        Yea because MSs idea of default is tied to the OS at a level other browers cannot get to...
    • The key word in an antitrust lawsuit is "dominance". When trying to determine if a firm is dominant, one usually first looks at market share. I believe there was just recently a story on Slashdot where commenters were quick to point out [slashdot.org] the Android/iOS split is about 80/15.
  • Good! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495)

    Good! I'm generally a Google fan, but the default Google search on my phone that I can't remove is annoying to say the least. The voice search garbage that nobody uses makes it even worse. I don't think I'd mind if I could just remove it... but the fact that its locked onto my screen top center and I have no way to ever remove it makes it seem an awful lot like IE was in XP.

    • There are scores of free alternative launchers, all available in the market [google.com].

    • You can "remove" it by installing an aftermarket launcher screen like Nova.

      Just about every "default" app and function can be overridden with aftermarket apps.

    • I agree, I used to press the stupid voice search button by accident all the time when trying to open the notifications area. I actually managed to remove it, but I had to root the device and find the right service to disable. The search bar is gone now but the space it used to occupy is still there, but empty now.

      Rooting my device voided my warranty. This kind of crap is the same as what microsoft used to do with IE and windows.

    • The voice search garbage that nobody uses makes it even worse.

      Eh? Voice search is pretty much worthless, but the other stuff that comes with it is pretty nice. "Make an appointment for next thursday at 3pm: doctors appointment" is a lot easier than opening the calendar app and creating one by hand. If I have complaints with it, it's that it doesn't do enough thing (Why oh why can't I say: "call X on speakerphone"?).

  • Please allow me to explain. When I first got an Android phone some years back, I was appalled when my service provider told me that I could not update any firmware unless I had Widows. At the time, I was only running GNU/Linux on my desk and latop. My phone would be howling for updates and experienced all sorts of glitches, while I looked for someone with Windows. I wondered, 'how the hell is this a GNU/Linux OS when I need freaking Windows to update it?' Could the service provider not have released a tar ball update? How hard would that be? Then I learned that Android comes loaded with proprietary software blobs. That you have to do pretty much what the service provider wants you to do, and not what you want to do. Also, the Android phone howls for a gmail account or it gets very moody. That is why Replicant is around, but my understanding is that most of the features re disabled (like mobile internet--not wifi) once you install. So I figure, you really have to do what companies say if you want the fraking thing to work, which does not look/feel like GNU/Linux to me. I might as well get any number of other phone OS', like a Windows, Blackberry, or whatever. I am still waiting for a GNU/Linux tablet, phone, and the like. It will happen...any day now...yes..any day...one day...I hope...
    • Also, the Android phone howls for a gmail account or it gets very moody

      Which I solved by creating a new gmail account on the phone, and never using it.

      Note that if you should ever feel the urge to email to plokjuy.gmail (I think that's how I spelled the account name), you won't get a response. Ever.

      • Still, it's nice that you know the name of the account under which Google is storing all the information it's spied from your searches, browsing and physical movements.

        • Why should I care about Google spying on me? If they don't get the info direct, they can get it from the NSA, after all.

          Or GCHQ, I suppose....

    • by SpaceGhost (23971)

      There are at least two AOSP flavours that offer nightly updates, Cyanogenmod and Omnirom. The slow updates on android are usually because the carriers want to lock you in to their set of apps/restrictions/spyware and insist on vetting updates. My t-Mobile Galaxy Note 2 has been running KitKat 4.4.2 for months, no thanks to T-Mobile. I would love to see a good GNU/Linux phone option. Maybe OpenBSD, where you make calls with a CLI...

    • Was that plain android or was that some custom system that samsung or motorolla put out? A lot of those firmwares were pretty awful, some still are.

      I really don't understand why they even bother. Approximately NO ONE EVER has said "Oh, I'm going to get a samsung phone, because touchwiz is so much better than regular android!" People who know one custom OS from another generally seem to rip it out as soon as possible and put in a different system, and the vast majority of customers only know it's not
    • Also, the Android phone howls for a gmail account or it gets very moody

      I've made hundreds of gmail accounts to deal with this problem. Every time a new phone comes in, new account with random letters.

  • "It argues device manufacturers enter such secret pacts with Google, called Mobile Application Distribution Agreements (MADA), because they know consumers expect to see a full suite of Google apps when they buy a device.
    The suit does not argue that device manufacturers entered MADAs involuntarily, but that the market power of Google compels them to."

    I've seen several Android devices without the play store. So obviously some manufacturers choose not to enter the agreement.

  • Well.... yeah? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ilsaloving (1534307) on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:56AM (#46899923)

    So... you buy an GOOGLE Android phone. You buy one that has GOOGLE apps preloaded, because you wanted them. But then you're upset that GOOGLE search is the default, and it requires effort to change that? .....what?

    Nah, it's ok that Google is strongarming manufacturers to not include 3rd party apps that compete with Google's.

    It's perfectly acceptable that Google is stripping away privacy features from their phones.

    BUT DAMN IT I WANT MY CHOICE OF INTERNET SEARCH!!111eleventy!

    *facepalm*

    The stupid... it burns!

  • The whole point is that Google's popularity forces Android phone manufacturers to incorporate Google search functionality. Shouldn't this lawsuit be directed against all Google users, for making the search giant so popular?

    NOTE: I'm not saying it's the best. I'm not saying it's the only one that incorporates functionality xyz. Just that it's so popular that any Android manufacturer that doesn't provide at least a way to add Google functionality is committing market suicide.

    What a crock! It's not like

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