Google Firebase Part Of US Antitrust Probe

Some app developers claim Google is pressuring them to embed a code in their products that will expand Google’s access to consumer data and give it an advantage over competitors. The concerns involving Firebase, a software offered for apps, are part of an investigation by state attorneys general and the US Justice Department into whether Google has stifled competition, Reuters reported, citing “two people with knowledge of the investigation.”

Tools on Firebase, which is embedded in apps such as Instacart and Expedia, give Google information on consumers that it can use for targeted ads, Reuters explained. 

“It’s about data collection and ad serving,” Bob Lawson, founder and director of mobile software company Kumulos told Reuters. “The more Google knows about users, the more helpful it can be to advertisers.”

Firebase is bundled with Google’s Android Studio, a program to code apps for Google’s Android operating system. Over the last two years, Google has been making it difficult for apps to do even common functions without Firebase tools, sources told Reuters.

Google recently has told app developers that Firebase will “significantly improve” results of their Google ad campaigns, Reuters reported.

Firebase competitors are saying they want to be promoted on Android Studio as well. Android developers  “deserve to know that there is a choice,” said Mark Piller, chief executive of a competing software vendor, Backendless.

Firebase tools are optional, can be used with competing services, and can boost revenue for apps, Google told Reuters. With Firebase, app makers don’t have to code basic components or install alternatives that can be more complex, the company stated.

Full Content: Reuters

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.