NHN Corp. and Daum Communications have filed antitrust complaints with the South Korean equivalent of the US Fair Trade Commission. The complaints assert that Google is blocking them from putting their search applications on Android phones in South Korea.
Leading Engines Claim They’re Blocked
NHN and Daum run the two largest web portals in the country; both operate search engines as well. NHN owns leading South Korean search site Naver.
According to Bloomberg NHN’s complaint alleges “Google has banned South Korean phone manufacturers from including Web search applications made by other companies under its marketing contracts . . . [and] Daum learned about Google’s practices while trying to have its applications installed and has evidence to prove its claims.”
These claims are similar to allegations leveled by Skyhook Wireless in a lawsuit filed last year against Google in the US. That suit alleges that Google blocked use of Skyhook’s location technology and required handset OEMs to use its own.
70 Percent of Smartphones in South Korea Run Android
A recent article in BusinessWeek described how Google was asserting more control over Android to prevent fragmentation of the platform. Google’s head of mobile Andy Rubin denied that there had been any change in Google’s approach to Android or how partners can use the platform.
The Bloomberg piece cites data asserting that roughly 70 percent of the smartphones sold in South Korea are Android devices. However NHN and Daum control roughly 90 percent of the South Korean search market between the two companies. Google has less than 5 percent share of the PC search market.