Google antitrust probe to expand into Android
(Reuters) – The several dozen attorneys general investigating advertising practices at Alphabet Inc’s Google are planning to expand their antitrust probe into the unit’s flagship Android business, CNBC reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The investigation, led by the Texas attorney general’s office, is known to have focused on Google’s search and digital advertising businesses since it began in September.
Google has said it is cooperating with the probe by US states and territories and that previous investigations in several have considered similar issues without charging the company with wrongdoing. It did not have further comment on Thursday.
The Alphabet unit also faces two other major inquiries — a US Justice Department investigation and a probe by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee — both of which have broad reviews of the big internet companies underway.
Last year, Google was fined 4.34 billion euros by the European Commission, which said the tech giant gave itself an unfair advantage by pre-installing its Chrome browser and Google search app on Android smartphones and notebooks.
Alphabet Inc’s Google unveiled new Pixel smartphones with higher quality cameras, a radar sensor and faster virtual assistant, but failed to provide enough to set the devices apart from rivals and nix concerns about price.
The Pixel 4 phones, in two sizes, headlined a New York press event at which Google also announced its first moderately priced laptop, first wireless earbuds and upgrades to its to well-reviewed Wifi router and burger-sized smart speaker.
Google started developing hardware about four years ago, wagering that it could introduce artificial intelligence into devices faster and better than rivals and that consumers would clamor for such features. The strategy has generated mixed results.
Its lower-priced devices have been top sellers, but are far from being major profit drivers. Higher-priced devices, such as the Pixel phones, have gained little traction versus those of industry leaders such as Samsung Electronics Co and Apple Inc because of limited marketing. Consumers are also holding on to their devices for much longer.