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Google Faces Antitrust Suit Over Waze Acquisition

 |  April 14, 2022

Alphabet is facing federal antitrust litigation in San Francisco over claims that it leverages its dominance of the GPS navigation market—through Google Maps, Waze, and related services—to lock app developers into the “Google ecosystem” and hit them with “egregious” price hikes.

The lawsuit accuses Google of capturing 81% of the market by offering Maps for free, exploiting its data “treasure trove” to cement its monopoly, placing restrictive terms on developers that incorporate its functions, and using other services like search and YouTube to favor Maps by “self-preferencing.”

After Google’s control of the “digital-mapping stack” was complete following its 2013 acquisition of Waze—the only rival offering a full suite of competing services—it began jacking up prices, which have risen by 1,400% since 2018, according to the proposed class action brought by three businesses.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, also indirectly challenges the Waze deal—which has recently come under belated scrutiny from antitrust regulators—although it doesn’t seek to unwind the transaction.

The tech giant “bought out one of the few companies in the world making navigable maps while also providing turn-by-turn navigation service” and “bureaucratized” it “into a failing subsidiary” that could be used as a “guinea pig” for monetizing GPS services through advertising, the complaint says.

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