A US lawsuit has asked for consumers to take part in an antitrust case that claims Google abuses its position in mobile and internet search and forces users onto its search engine.
The suit has been filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, by consumer rights law firm Hagens Berman, and it accuses Google of "financially and creatively stagnating" the American web market. Google has already been accused of similar in both Europe and the US.
The problem, says Hagens Berman, stems from Google's acquisition of the Android operating system (OS). It accuses the firm of pre-loading its applications onto the OS through a secretive system called Mobile Application Distribution Agreements (MADA). The lawsuit says that only attorneys were party to the agreements, and that the MADAs have made hardware costly to produce.
Steve Berman, attorney at Hagens Berman, said it would have been better if Google had let hardware firms install a default search engine of their own choosing.
"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," he said.
"Simply put, there is no lawful, pro-competitive reason for Google to condition licenses to pre-load popular Google apps like this. The more use an internet or mobile search engine gets, the better it performs based on that use. 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 disputed the claims in a statement, saying that search and Android are independent of each other. "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," it said in a statement.
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