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South Korean mobile search companies file suit against Google

Google is facing criticism in South Korea as two of the nation’s largest search engine companies filed complaints with the Fair Trade Commission against the mega company. Rival search companies NHN and Danum alleged Google is preventing competitors from embedding search applications on Android devices.

“Through a marketing partnership with major smartphone producers, Google has prohibited other market players from preinstalling their search window or related applications,” Naver search parent company NHN Corp. said in a statement

NHN and Danum dominate around 90% of South Korea’s Internet search through non-mobile devices, whereas Google accounts for only one and two percent of searches in the country. On the other hand, Google accounts for around 15% of mobile searches with NHN and Danum dominating the other 70%. Google fares much better in mobile mostly because smartphones sold in South Korea use Google search by default.

Google has denied any wrongdoing, stating it does not prevent manufacturers from using other search engines. “Android is an open platform, and carriers and partners are free to decide which applications and services to include,” a Google spokeswoman told Bloomberg.

Android powered mobile phone users can physically install other search engine applications, but NHN and Danum allege that having a phone preloaded with Google search gives the company an unfair advantage.

The public outcry over Google’s practices are not limited to South Korea, as Google gets more flack worldwide. In March, Microsoft filed an antitrust complaint with the European Union, alleging Google restricts Bings search engine result by prioritizing its own content (for example YouTube) before Bing results. Businessweek recently reported Google tried to delay the launch of some Verizon Android phones that came pre-installed with Microsoft’s Bing, to which Google senior VP Andy Rubin denied in a blog post.

Skyhook Wireless has similarly accused Google of preventing Motorola and another manufacturer from using its technology in favor of Google’s location technology. Both instances have reportedly prompted a U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigation into the company.

In the case of South Korea, NHN and Danum’s move to stop Google seems more preventative than anything else. Although Google only maintains 15 percent of the Google search market, these competitors may be hoping to squash the competitor before it becomes too powerful.



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