The Federal Trade Commission is focusing its investigation of Google on the Internet giant’s Android phone software and search services, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The FTC began its probe of Google in June, serving the company with subpoenas relating to various aspects of its business. The FTC has the authority to regulate anti-competitive behavior.
But sources told WSJ that the FTC is now focusing on whether Google prevents smartphone manufacturers that use the Android platform from using other companies’ services, such as Microsoft’s search engine, Bing.
Additionally, the FTC is reportedly investigating whether Google unfairly gives preferential search-result placement to its own products, such as “Places,” “Shopping” and “Finance” services, while demoting the results of its competitors.
“We understand that with success comes scrutiny,” a Google spokeswoman said. “We are happy to answer any questions the FTC may have about our business.”
FTC lawyers have asked other Internet companies about Google’s practice of including customer reviews from other websites in its own services.
Last month, Google stopped using parts of Yelp reviews in its “Places” service after Yelp complained that Google was stealing its content.
According to a recent analysis of search-engine rankings, 65 percent of all Internet searches are made using Google. Yahoo! ranks second with 16 percent of the market.
An FTC spokeswoman declined to comment.
The Senate has begun its own investigation into Google, and the company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, has agreed to testify in September before the Judiciary subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights.