While Google waits for the jury to come up with a unanimous decision in the copyright phase of the Google-Oracle trial, they’ve been busy with other matters as well, facing an antitrust probe in India and growing its investments in online video.
Google slapped with another antitrust probe
The Competition Commission of India launched an antitrust probe against Google’s online advertising business, AdWords, but there’s a possibility that the probe could extend beyond AdWords if the commission sees fit.
The commission received numerous complaints against Google regarding their anticompetitive market behavior, but clarified that the probe isn’t based on one specific complaint. The complaints alleged that Google abused their market power by allowing rivals of certain brands to bid for keywords that are closely related to their brands, which forced the complaining brands to pay steep prices to retain keywords closely associated with their services.
Google declined to comment on the issue, stating that they haven’t received any notice from the Competition Commission regarding the probe.
Aside from the AdWords probe, Google is also facing criminal charges in court for allegedly failing to remove Web content deemed objectionable by Indian authorities, which, if Google is convicted, company executives could face jail time. India’s finance ministry is also conducting a probe to determine whether the Internet company violated local rules on foreign-exchange transactions.
Google negotiates fine for Safari breach
In February, Google was caught tracking and monitoring Apple’s Safari activities. Allegedly, Google and other advertising companies used a code to bypass the privacy settings of Safari that block tracking.
The code was spotted by Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer and independently confirmed by a technical adviser for the Wall Street Journal, Ashkan Soltani, who found that ads on 22 of the top 100 websites installed the Google tracking code on a test computer, and ads on 23 sites installed it on an iPhone browser.
When the expose was published, Google had already disabled the invasive code and stated that the WSJ misunderstood the advertising cookies and that those cookies did not gather personal information.
The incident led to an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, and Google cooperated with the probe. If found guilty, Google will be fined $16,000 per violation, per day, totaling to about $10 million. Now, Google is negotiating with the FTC for the possibility of lowering the fine.
Google invests in Machinima
Sources told AllThingsD that the round of funding could accumulate to $30 million, which would bring Machinima’s valuation up to $190 million.
It’s no secret that Google pays content makers to create videos for YouTube, which the search giant makes up for in ad sales. But this is the first time Google openly backed a content company by taking an equity stake. This move may not go well with other video makers, as many already expressed discontent over the search giant’s apparent favoritism towards Machinima and other prominent content partners.
Google opens Hangouts On Air to everyone
Google+’s Hangouts may be the most popular feature of the latest Facebook competitor. So to keep things interesting and fun for all, Hangouts On Air is now available for everyone to use. Google+ users can now broadcast their Hangouts for everyone to see by just clicking the “Enable Hangouts On Air” button.
Hangouts On Air was previously available for some performers, celebrities or influencers like the Dalai Lama, which live streamed his video chat with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This is yet another way Google+ is updating its core feature set to appeal to brands looking to use the social network as a broadcasting platform, which Google really needs in order to reel in the end users and make Google+ a true success.