The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has begun an antitrust inquiry into the way Google bundles apps on smartphones running its Android mobile operating system, Bloomberg reported on Friday. Google is currently facing similar scrutiny in the European Union.
According to Bloomberg, which cites two people familiar with the matter, the FTC is still in the early stages of the investigation. FTC officials have met with representatives of technology companies, who claim that Google unfairly prioritizes its own apps and services, such as Google Maps and Google search, on Android phones.
In Europe, Google is facing formal charges that it unfairly promotes its own Google Shopping results in search. European investigators are also looking into Google’s Android business.
Earlier this month, Russia’s antitrust agency found Google guilty of anticompetitive practices related to Android bundling.
In April 2015, Google responded to the European Commission’s inquiry into its Android business, saying, “Android has helped create more choice and innovation on mobile than ever before.” The company’s blog post continued:
[Our] app distribution agreements make sure that people get a great “out of the box” experience with useful apps right there on the home screen…. This also helps manufacturers of Android devices compete with Apple, Microsoft and other mobile ecosystems that come preloaded with similar baseline apps…. Apps that compete directly with Google such as Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft Office, and Expedia are easily available to Android users. Indeed many of these apps come pre-loaded onto Android devices in addition to Google apps.
The FTC inquiry may not result in formal charges filed against Google. A previous FTC investigation into Google’s search business, for example, did not collect enough evidence to make a case against the company.