Google facing antitrust charges in S. Korea

Faith Merino · April 15, 2011 · Short URL:

NHN and Daum accuse Google of blocking Android devices from running their search apps

See what happens when you become too good at what you do, Google? All the other players accuse you of cheating. So let that be a lesson to all of us: work hard and become good at what you do—but not TOO good because then you risk pissing people off.

Following on the heels of Google’s French slap on the wrist, the European Commission’s antitrust investigation, and global outrage over Google’s acquisition of ITA, now Google is facing antitrust complaints in South Korea, Bloomberg reports. But this time things are a little different.

In the antitrust case currently being investigated by the European Commission, the “search” companies filing complaints were nothing of the sort. One of them, eJustice, didn’t even turn up its own search results—it claims to be a legal search website but it simply returns Google search results. The companies that filed complaints accused Google of manipulating its algorithm to give them lower page ranks, but after visiting their websites, it’s easy to see that the case is weak as their websites suck.

But in the South Korean case, the businesses aren’t flimsy little nobodies throwing tantrums over their own suckitude. The companies leading the charges are the two largest search companies in South Korea: NHN Corp. and Daum Corp. (which acquired Lycos in 2004).

What are they claiming? The two South Korean search giants are accusing Google of prohibiting local phone carriers from embedding their search applications on Android devices.  The prohibition is being explicitly stated as a condition in their marketing contracts, the companies charge, adding that those carriers who violate the condition face retribution by Google in the form of delayed certification for the use of its software.

Daum claimed to have learned about the problem when it was trying to get its applications embedded on handsets. The company says it has proof to back up its claims.

“Android is an open platform, and carriers and partners are free to decide which applications and services to include,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to working with the FTC to address any questions they may have.”

Google has been facing down a number of antitrust and anti-competition charges. In the ultimate ironic twist, Microsoft added its name to the list of companies charging Google with anti-competitive policies. in a blog post in March, Microsoft SVP Brad Smith accused Google of preventing Bing from being able to access and index YouTube videos. Additionally, said Smith, Google has blocked Windows Phones from being able to operate YouTube apps, so that the YouTube apps currently supported are little more than redirections to a mobile Web browser that takes the user to the YouTube homepage.

Image source: icanhazcheezburger

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