Google is facing a U.S. antitrust investigation into whether it blocked access to competitors' services on its Android mobile operating system, according to media reports.
The Federal Trade Commission has struck a deal with the Justice Department to probe Google's Android business. Google is being accused of giving priority to its own services on Android, while stifling access to others, a move that could give it an unfair advantage.
Google declined to comment on the reports.
Currently, most Android phones come pre-installed with Google services such as Google Maps, YouTube and the Google Play app store. The FTC and Justice Department probe will look into whether this practice gives the U.S. search giant an unfair advantage and is potentially damaging for rival app developers and handset manufacturers, according to the reports.
"If the allegation against Google is that Google is tying applications to its Android system, the suggestion may be that this hinders the development or market access of rival applications," Pinar Ackman, professor of law at the University of Leeds, told CNBC by email.
But Google could be let off the hook if it is proved that there is strong competition in the mobile operating system market – such as from Apple – and that consumers are not blocked access to other apps, Akman added.
"The bottom line is if the mobile operating system market itself is competitive and consumers have different means of installing different applications onto their devices, then it will be very difficult to prove any competition law infringement," the lawyer said.
The inquiry is in its early stages and could end without a case against the company, according to the reports.