Japan’s Fair Trade Commission has stated that it will investigate Google’s search dominance after it revealed Google dominates over 70% of Japan’s search market.
Specifically, the watchdog will investigate whether Google asked smartphone providers to provide preferential treatment of its search engine over competitors, making Google the unfair default search engine in phones country-wide. If proven true, this act by Google would break Japan’s Antimonopoly Act.
According to research company GlobalData, Google has collectively received the biggest antitrust fines out of any Big Tech company between 2013 and 2022. Most of these fines, it notes, were also filed against Google’s search dominance and actions with smartphone providers.
The total of these fines amount to only 5% of Google’s total revenue in in 2022 ($282bn).
GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence 2023 Tech Regulation report states that there is an ongoing global rethinking of antitrust regulations to determine the future of internet and data markets.
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Despite this regulatory upheaval, GlobalData warn that these large fines are often “shrugged off” by Big Tech and have limited impact on reining in tech monopolies.
Principal analyst at GlobalData, Laura Petrone, was also pessimistic that Japan’s investigation would change Google’s practices.
“There are unlikely to be major changes in Google’s position in the Japanese market in the short to medium term,” she stated, “as the investigation will take time to conclude whether competition is being impeded in the Japanese search market.”
In a statement to Bloomberg in response to Japan’s investigation into Google’s working relationship with smartphone manufacturers, the company stated that it openly collaborated within Japan’s Android market and was likely to continue this relationship.
“Its openness and flexibility ensures that users always have a choice to customise their devices to suit their needs, including the ways they browse and search the internet,” Google stated on its impact within the smartphone market.