Google Faces Antitrust Probe In Japan For Search Practices

The Japan Fair Trade Commission said Monday it would look into whether or not Google violated the country’s Antimonopoly Act, following similar steps taken by the U.S. Justice Department, authorities in Europe and by other major economies.

The JFTC has suspected that Google broke antitrust rules through partnership and licensing contract that pushed manufacture of Android devices into prioritizing Google Search, Google Chrome Browser, and the Google Play app store.

Japan’s competition digital watchdog believes that Google, which reportedly holds an approximate 90% share of the global search-engine market, tells manufacturers where to place icons on their device screens.

"We have not confirmed any illegal activities at this point," reported The Mainichi daily newspaper in Japan, citing a fair-trade official at a press conference. The commission plans to seek input from outside parties, including smartphone users.



Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is expected to release 2023 third-quarter earnings on Tuesday.

Max Willens, senior analyst at Insider Intelligence, believes Google’s search business will "benefit from a comparatively upbeat macroeconomy," although it is now facing more threats than it has in more than a decade.

Estimates for 2023 suggest Google will remain the dominant player in worldwide search ad revenue with $140.97 billion -- about 57.4% of the global search ad market, according to Insider Intelligence. 

The dominance in Google Search has a direct correlation with the amount of ads that Google sells to advertisers.

The watchdog is seeking information and comments from third parties about “suspected” violations.

JFTC also wants to determine whether Google entered into deals in which it shared advertising revenue with manufacturers who agreed not to pre-install competing search applications on their devices.

Meanwhile, courts worldwide believe a massive imbalance of power rages on. In the United States, Amit Mehta, the federal judge overseeing the U.S. Justice Department’s fight with Google, is weighing allegations that the company illegally monopolized the market for search engines through a series of web contracts with major tech companies. Mehta is deciding the case without a jury, whether to side with Google or the U.S. Justice Department.

“If Mehta decides in the Justice Department’s favor, he’ll consider a range of remedies, including breaking up Alphabet,” writes Dan Papscun, reporter at Bloomberg Law.

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