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Authorities in Seoul look like carrying out their own version of the antitrust inquiries currently being carried out by the European Commission and U.S. Department of Justice toward Google.
The Korean Fair Trade Commission “raided” Google’s local HQ Tuesday and were due to return Wednesday, according to a Reuters source, after ISP NGN and portal operator Daum complained that Google’s Android mobile OS locks users in to Google (NSDQ: GOOG) as handsets’ default search and navigation provider.
Google has released a statement: “We will work with the KFTC to address any questions they may have about our business. Android is an open platform, and carrier and OEM partners are free to decide which applications and services to include on their Android phones. We do not require carriers or manufacturers to include Google Search or Google applications on Android-powered devices.”
That, apparently, is quite true. AT&T (NYSE: T) has previously replaced Android’s Google search with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), and Verizon has replaced Google search with Bing on some Android handsets. In China, Baidu (NSDQ: BIDU) is also the default search engine on many Android handsets (and the company has just unveiled its own Android-based OS in its entirety).
The Korean interest shows how concerns over Google’s dominance on the web have spread to those on mobile operating systems.
At this juncture, Android appears something of a Pandora’s box. Google may have to work hard to remind the likes of NHN and Daum that they can ditch search, Google’s main revenue generator, rather than take the drastic option of building an entirely new Android OS that ditches Google entirely.
South Korea, of course, is the home of Samsung, whose own Android efforts are currently being assaulted by Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) patent attacks and which is currently amping up its own Bada OS.