Google has been sued and investigated multiple times in the past for its massive market share in a variety of industries. Now, the search giant is under attack once again from law firm Hagens Berman, which has filed a class-action anti-trust lawsuit against the company.
According to the suit–these claims are similar to previous ones–Google has monopolized the search industry in the United States by putting its applications on Android devices.
Now, it is important to note that in order to use the backbone of Android, a company does not have to include Google services. This can be seen with phones and tablets from companies like Amazon, however, it is true that the majority of Android device makers do have Google’s services pre-loaded onto new units.
Attorney Steve Berman alleges that Google has attained its large US market share–67 percent–by manipulating the market rather than actually provided a product that is superior to alternatives like Microsoft Bing.
It seems likely that Google will have an easy time coming up with a defense since it is the creator of Android and therefore, having its software included in a portion of Android devices is not something that should surprise people.
Looking back at search engine market share in the US for 2008, Google also controlled at least 60 percent of the market. However, that was before Android had taken hold and it was the first year that any Android smartphone had even been released. Considering these statistics, it seems like Berman is arguing over whether or not a relatively small 5 percent market share growth–over six years–is the result of pre-loaded Android apps.
Along with plotting to increase its search market share by pre-loading apps, Hagens Berman alleges that placing apps like Google Play and YouTube on devices has kept prices artificially high.
Once again, simple price comparisons can be used to determine if the inclusion of Google services has boosted prices when they should not have been. Although a full analysis of component cost would be more accurate, we can see by looking at a Kindle Fire HDX (without Google services) and a Galaxy Tab 4 (with Google services) that both tablets cost the same. Each tablet costs $199 and they are also 7-inches, with one of the main differences being that services like Google Play are not on Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX. The suit primarily targets smartphones, though we can see from the tablet comparison that the cost of a device is tied to far more than Google apps.
Lastly, the lawsuit makes the claim that if device manufacturers were able to choose which search engine would be used by default on devices, the quality of internet search would improve. While it is always possible that a company like HTC or Samsung would opt to use Bing rather than Google, when given the choice, even most users would rather use Google.