Korean regulators raided Google’s Korean offices on Tuesday. The Korean Fair Trade Commission was reportedly looking for information regarding Google’s Android practices on antitrust concerns, and Google told AllThingsD that it was cooperating with the Commission.
“We will work with the KFTC to address any questions they may have about our business,” Google said in a statement. “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.”
The Korean government has very close ties to the country’s businesses, including Samsung and LG, two of Google’s largest Android licensees. Tuesday’s raid comes in the wake of the U.S.-based company’s announcement that it—Google—will purchase Motorola Mobility, a U.S. handset maker in direct competition with Samsung, LG, and other Android licensees.
It’s not yet known the exact nature of the KFC’s—oops, we mean the KFTC’s—concerns when it comes to the smartphone operating system. Android has become the world’s #1 smartphone platform, but it has far from even monopoly power, let alone an actual monopoly, or even a majority share. Apple’s iPhone platform owns 25% (or more, depending on whose numbers you want to see), while Research In Motion’s Blackberry owns another 25% (or less, depending on whose numbers you cite).
In other words, it’s difficult to understand how antitrust could be an issue at this stage of the smartphone game, at least in American terms. Korean antitrust regulation could well be an entirely different kind of beast.