The US Department of Justice is investigating two antitrust matters related to Google Maps

Shortly: Does Bundling YouTube Music, Google Assistant and Play Store with Google Maps for In-Car Infotainment Systems Smother Competition from Similar Third-Party Apps? That’s what the DoJ wants to know. It also intends to review the company’s terms of service to see if it is exhibiting monopolistic behavior over its mapping APIs.

According to anonymous sources, the US Department of Justice investigate Google is set to determine whether its Maps app violates antitrust laws. Insiders familiar with the situation told Reuters that the DoJ was investigating two possible issues.

The first concerns Google’s Android Automotive infotainment operating system. A selling point for any infotainment system is a GPS. Google Maps serves this purpose perfectly. However, if automakers want to include maps, Google requires that they also install Play Store, Google Assistant, YouTube Music, and various other first-party apps. The Justice Department believes this could hurt consumer choice and prevent other apps from competing.


Google is doing the same thing with phone makers, but the DoJ doesn’t seem to care. It’s strange, because in comparison, Android Mobile puts Android Automotive in the shade by far. Ars Technica points out that it’s just the vehicle’s operating system available in select Volvos, the GMC Hummer EV and upcoming 2023 Ford vehicles. In contrast, Android has a smartphone install base of approximately 2.5 billion.

The second point of contention with Google Maps is how it is Terms of Use (ToS) restrict how developers and websites can use map data. Specifically, Section 3.2.3 of the Terms of Service, which states that third-party developers or services “cannot rebuild any Google product or feature.” For example, a third-party navigation program cannot use Maps APIs because it would compete directly with Google Maps.

Another requirement is that developers must pay Google for each map data request. There are dozens of APIs for various map features, including directions, location details, street view, etc. For a developer, the usage costs can quickly add up. You could potentially mix and match APIs from other services like TomTom or OpenStreet Map to reduce costs. However, Google’s terms of service say it’s all or nothing – if you use even one Google Maps API, you can’t use competing services.

The investigation is currently in the early stages. If the DoJ believes that Google has a monopoly on its mapping service, it will recommend a lawsuit.

Photo credit: BigTunaOnline The US Department of Justice is investigating two antitrust matters related to Google Maps

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