Consumer rights law firm Hagens Berman filed a nationwide antitrust lawsuit against Google Inc alleging the company ”illegally monopolised” the Internet and mobile search market in the United States.
The class-action lawsuit alleges that Google has expanded its monopoly of the internet search market by pre-loading its applications onto Android mobile devices through its Mobile Application Distribution Agreements.
According to the suit, Google’s role in placing this suite of apps, including Google Play, and YouTube, among others, has hampered the market and kept the price of devices made by competing device manufacturers like Samsung and HTC artificially high.
”It’s clear that Google has not achieved this monopoly through offering a better search engine, but through its strategic, anti-competitive placement, and it doesn’t take a forensic economist to see that this is evidence of market manipulation,” said Steve Berman, an attorney representing consumers and founding partner of Hagens Berman. ”Simply put, there is no lawful, pro-competitive reason for Google to condition licenses to pre-load popular Google apps like this.”
The complaint claims that if device manufacturers bound by Google’s distribution agreements were free to choose a default search engine other than Google, the overall quality of Internet search would improve.
“The more use an internet or mobile search engine gets, the better it performs based on that use,” Berman said. “Instead of finding a way to legitimately out-compete other internet and mobile search providers, they instead decided to choke off competition through this cynical, anti-consumer scheme.”
Google said Android and Google can be used independently of each other.
Matt Kallman, a Google spokesman said: “Anyone can use Android without Google and anyone can use Google without Android. Since Android’s introduction, greater competition in smartphones has given consumers more choices at lower prices.”
This reminds me of when a lawsuit was brought against Microsoft for bundling their crappy browser Internet Explorer with Windows. People always had a choice to download another browser back then, do Android users get to download alternative apps?