The Google Logo in Black and White under a sepia shadeSource: Android Central

What you need to know

  • Japan's Fair Trade Commission has launched an antitrust investigation into Google and Apple.
  • The investigation aims to determine whether the two companies are leveraging their dominance in the mobile operating system market to stifle competition.
  • Apple dominates Japan's smartphone operating system market with a 70% share, while Google's share stands at 30%.

Antitrust regulators in Japan will soon begin investigating whether Google and Apple are abusing their dominant position in the mobile OS market to hurt competition and limit options for consumers, according to Nikkei Asia.

The Commission's report will outline the OS market structure in the country and the reasons why competition has "remained static." It will also itemize practices followed by Google and Apple that the Commission finds to be anti-competitive, along with violations of Japan's anti-monopoly law.

Shuichi Sugahisa, secretary-general of Japan's Fair Trade Commission, told reporters that the agency's probe will involve interviews with operators, app developers, as well as smartphone users. The Commission plans to work together with the central government's Digital Market Competition Council, which is already running a probe into the OS market.

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Regulators in Japan have accused Google of forcing manufacturers to pre-install its Search app on all Android devices — including the best budget Android phones, and making it difficult for consumers to use other search apps.

In February this year, the Japanese government introduced the Act on Improving Transparency and Fairness of Digital Platforms. Google and Apple may have to submit regular reports on transactions to Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry if officials decide that the law applies to the smartphone operating system market as well.

Japan isn't the only country that has raised concerns over Google's Android dominance. Last month, India's antitrust watchdog accused the company of adopting anti-competitive practices in the mobile OS market. Google is also facing similar antitrust investigations from regulators in the U.S., Europe, and South Korea.

Android Central has reached out to Google for a comment.