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Google wants more Play Store prominence on Samsung handsets

The firm's reported demands come as Congress prepares to begin its major antitrust probe into big tech

Google is reportedly negotiating a deal with Samsung that would give its products more prominence on the Korean giant's smartphones.

The talks centre on giving Google more control over search on Samsung handsets, according to correspondence seen by Bloomberg, and a higher status for the Google Play Store and Google Assistant.

The reported talks with Samsung are happening as an antitrust investigation into big tech prepares to kicks off, and the Google Play Store one of several services at the centre of the investigation.

Samsung, the world's biggest provider of Android-based smartphones, licenses the basic software that underpins Google's mobile operating system. Google previously required hardware makers to pre-install its suite of apps, such as Search, Chrome, and YouTube, often with an agreement to share some advertising revenue. 

In this regard, Google has often fallen foul of regulators, particularly in Europe, but also with Congress. According to prepared remarks, Pichai will tell the committee that Google "deliberately builds platforms that support the innovation of others". 

"Using Android - a product I worked on for many years - thousands of device makers and mobile operators build and sell devices without any licensing fees to us or any requirement to integrate our products," the statement reads. 

"This greatly reduces device prices, and today billions of consumers around the globe are now able to afford cutting-edge smartphones, some for less than $50. And in doing so they are able to access new opportunities - whether it's sharing a video with friends and family around the world, gaining education for themselves or their children, or starting a business."

Samsung has repeatedly tried to develop its own Android alternatives. Its Bada OS didn't see much uptake and later merged with the unsuccessful Tizen project, and Bixby assistant has also not fared well, falling far behind the likes of Alexa, Siri and the Google Assistant. 

"Samsung remains committed to our own ecosystem and services," a spokesperson for the Korean giant said. "At the same time, Samsung closely works with Google and other partners to offer the best mobile experiences for our users."

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