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Google rebuts anti-competition claim in South Korea

Google said its up to carriers and phone manufacturers to decide which apps to install on mobile devices

Google brushed aside an anti-competition claim in South Korea on Monday, saying mobile carriers and phone manufacturers (OEMs) can decide what to install on the Android phones they sell or make.

Two Korean search engine operators, Daum and NHN, filed a claim with the Korea Fair Trade Commission on Friday alleging that Google had pressured Android phone manufacturers to block search engines or applications that might rival its own, a commission official and one of the claimants said.

But, said a Google representative, "Android is an open platform, and carrier and [original equipment manufacturer] partners are free to decide which applications and services to include on their Android phones.”

Google's mobile search and search-by-voice application have been gaining popularity in South Korea, topping local alternatives on some surveys, though not all Android devices sold in the country come with Google services. A commission spokesman anticipated a long investigation into the claim.

Daum spokeswoman Jody Chung said the company wanted equal opportunity for search businesses in the Korean mobile market. "We filed complaints against Google, arguing that Google used direct and indirect influence over Android-based phone manufacturers to block other search engines or applications from being placed before Google’s search box," she said.

NHN, which built the search engine Naver, offered no comment on the case.

The anti-competition case is not Google's first run-in with South Korean regulators. In January the National Police Agency found it had illegally collected personal data for its Street View map service.

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