Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has been staring down the barrel of a federal antitrust investigation for quite some time, but most people had expected the scrutiny to fall on its dominant Web search engine. However, the feds are also taking a close look at Android in order to determine whether or not Google is forcing its hardware partners to choose Google’s services when putting together their phones, according to a report.
The Wall Street Journal confirmed that the Federal Trade Commission is indeed looking into whether or not Google improperly promotes its own services over that of competitors when it displays search results. But now that Android is the leading mobile operating system in the U.S., Google is also going to have to answer questions about its Android business, likely provoked by a lawsuit from Skyhook Wireless alleging that Google required Android partners to use its own location services over Skyhook’s.
Such an investigation will likely get interesting in light of the mobile patent battles this year: Google is actually trying to get the Department of Justice to look into the results of the $4.5 billion Nortel auction, proving once again that running a company with as many balls in the air as Google is a tricky affair. Chairman Eric Schmidt is scheduled to testify before a Senate hearing next month on Google’s extensive reach, which might be a preview of some of the issues it can expect to discuss with the FTC.