S. Korea Search Engines File Google Complaint

SEOUL — Android-based smartphones use Google as their default search engine and, according to two search giants in South Korea, the preloading of Android had made it “virtually impossible to switch to another option” for Internet searching.

The No. 1 and 2 search engines here — Naver and Daum — have asked South Korea’s trade commission to probe whether Google has improperly maneuvered to have Android preinstalled on most smartphones being sold in the country, where two-thirds of are Android-based.

Naver and Daum control more than 70 percent of the mobile search market in South Korea, where there are 10 million registered smartphones.

Google, however, hasn't captured the search market like it has in other countries. In fact it only has a 1 to 2 percent share in the fixed-line search market here

Naver, owned by NHN Corp., says in its complaint that Google, “through a marketing partnership with major smartphone producers,” had unfairly created “a new ecosystem” by offering the Android system free to corner the market.

But Google, according to the Wall Street Journal, has denied the accusations, saying in a statement that “carrier partners are free to decide which applications and services to include on their Android phones.”

It is technically possible to switch search applications on Android phones but that switch is not easy. Naver and Daum said their applications could not be purchased as a preloaded option.

Microsoft filed a similar antitrust complaint last month with European regulators, saying Google was engaging in anticompetitive practices on the web and in smartphone software in relation to videos on Google-owned YouTube.