Apple Subpoenaed for Details on iOS Search Deal in Google Antitrust Investigation
Bloomberg reports that antitrust investigators with the Federal Trade Commission have issued a subpoena to Apple requesting information on the company's deal to make Google the default search engine on iOS. Google has been reported to have paid Apple $1 billion last year in the iOS search deal, and the subpoena is part of an ongoing antitrust investigation of Google over its actions to lock up search engine traffic.
The agency’s request for documents includes the agreements that made Google the preferred search engine on Apple’s mobile devices, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly and declined to be identified. Google rivals such as Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) have criticized these agreements as anticompetitive.
The subpoena indicates the FTC is intensifying its scrutiny of Google’s business practices. Details of the Apple-Google relationship may show whether Google is abusing its dominance of Internet search to boost revenue in the mobile phone advertising market, said Allen Grunes, an antitrust lawyer at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP in Washington.
The investigation is also looking more broadly at how Google's advertising rates and search results may be being manipulated to give Google an unfair advantage in the marketplace.
With Android and iOS now together holding the vast majority of smartphone market share, Google's search engine possesses a dominating position in the rapidly-growing mobile search space. With mobile search expected to pass desktop search within the next few years, Google's dominance and its tie-ins to its own advertising services are garnering significant attention from regulators.