Did Google take advantage of consumers by forcing Android phone and tablet manufacturers to install its applications by default? That was the argument being put forth by a group of complainants in the US last week. As part of the lawsuit, the consumers claimed Google bullied hardware companies into accepting contracts limiting them to Google software, causing the price of the phones to skyrocket. The judge presiding over the case, however, wasn’t moved by the complainants’ pleas, and dismissed the lawsuit late last week. The plaintiffs have been granted three weeks to restructure their argument and find new evidence.
The class-action lawsuit accused Google of requiring handset makers, including Samsung, to ship their products with any included search engines set to Google by default. As a result of this restrictive clause, the manufacturer’s were prevented from throwing their support behind competing platforms, such as Bing or Yahoo. The complainants argue that this has a negative effect on the search engine market as a whole, limiting competition, strangling innovation and inflating prices.
According to U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman, the complainants responsible for filing the suit didn’t provide enough evidence to back up their claims that Google was manipulating handset manufacturers into signing illegal, constrictive contracts. At the end of the hearing, she said the the consumers didn’t argue their case effectively, failing to provide satisfactory evidence that linked the price of phones to software requirements. In closing, she remarked that there was not evidence to support the prosecution’s claims that Google had prevented consumers from choosing their own search engines, nor that their actions had had a negative impact on their competitors’ ability to innovate.
This isn’t the first time Google has been the target of an antitrust lawsuit. In fact, the search engine provider is under fire from companies all over Europe, with many competing search engines providers pressuring Google to address issues of competition and privacy. One such company is Yandex, the Russian search service, who allege that Google is forcing its apps on hardware manufacturers in a bid to squeeze out its competitors. They lodged a complaint with the Russian Federal Anti-monopoly Service (FAS) earlier this month, seeking permission to investigate Google for possible breaches of antitrust law in Russia.