- Google faces a broader antitrust probe from the same top law enforcement officials who started looking into the search giant's advertising business two months ago. Those 50 attorneys general are expanding their investigation to include Google's search and Android businesses, CNBC reported, citing unnamed sources.
- Attorneys general representing 48 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., will draft subpoenas to support the investigation, but those subpoenas may not be served immediately, per CNBC. Google declined the publication's request to comment on the report. Kent Walker, Google's SVP of global affairs in September said in a blog post that the company would cooperate with the investigation.
- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading the inquiry, which initially focused on Google's online advertising business. In a recent meeting with other attorneys general, Paxton supported an expansion of the probe into Google's search and Android businesses, CNBC reported.
The possible expansion of the antitrust investigation into Google indicates that attorney generals are looking at several ways the search giant dominates various industries. The company controls about 37% of the U.S. digital ad market, and has an even stronger grip on search ad revenue, according to eMarketer. The researcher last month estimated that Google commands 73% of U.S. search ad revenue, compared with 13% for Amazon, 6.5% for Microsoft and 2% for Verizon. The U.S. Department of Justice also is looking into Google's dominant position in digital advertising, among other activities.
Critics say that Google uses its dominance in search to collect data about internet users and to promote its own services, which have expanded into reviews, its Maps app and travel booking while edging out rivals. Google also exerts its market power with the Android mobile operating system that runs about 50% of U.S. smartphones, and faces growing competition from Apple. The search giant requires handset makers that use Android to pre-install its Google Play app store and other apps such as Gmail, Google Maps and the Chrome web browser, a key advantage in spurring app usage.
Google's control of Android was at the center of an antitrust investigation in the European Union, which fined the search company a record $5 billion last year. After that, Google let European users select their search engine on new phones and stopped bundling its software on Android.