Judge dismisses Google Antitrust Suit over Android app limits

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A U.S. federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit accusing Google of  forcing handset makers that use its Android operating system to make the search engine company’s own applications the default option.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, claimed that Google required companies such as Samsung to favor Google apps such as YouTube on Android-powered phones, and restrict rival apps such as Microsoft Corp’s Bing.

Consumers said this illegally drove smartphone prices higher because rivals could not compete for the “prime screen real estate” that Google’s apps enjoyed.

But in her decision, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman said that the plaintiffs failed to show that Google’s restrictions force smartphone prices higher. The judge said that there were an unknown number of supply chain levels between the manufacturers who signed the allegedly anti-competitive pacts with Google, and consumers.

“Their alleged injuries – supracompetitive prices and threatened loss of innovation and consumer choice – are not the necessary means by which defendant is allegedly accomplishing its anticompetitive ends,” Freeman wrote.

The judge is giving the plaintiffs three weeks to amend their complaint, hinting that uncompetitive pricing and loss of consumer choice are not the reasons why Google could be found guilty of monopolistic behavior.

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