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Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 01:07 pm PT (04:07 pm ET)

FTC subpoenas Apple for iOS search data in antitrust probe of Google

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has subpoenaed Apple in an effort to learn how it uses Google's search functionality on iOS devices as part of an ongoing antitrust investigation into Google.

Two people familiar with the subpoena gave the details to Bloomberg, which filed a report on Tuesday. The FTC reportedly seeks the contracts that were signed by Apple and Google which made Google the default search engine on devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Apple isn't alone in being subpoenaed, either. It was also said that "other handset makers and wireless carriers" were also brought in to the FTC's investigation, though none were specifically named.

The FTC began its civil antitrust investigation against Google in earnest last year, in an effort to determine whether the company's search engine practices are anticompetitive. Google's search and advertising business accounts for the lion's share of its business, though the FTC investigation also includes other products, like the Android operating system.

"The FTC is examining whether the company unfairly increases advertising rates for competitors and ranks search results to favor its own business, such as its networking site Google+," Tuesday's latest report said. It added that the FTC wants to find out "whether the company is using its control of the Android mobile operating system to harm competition."

Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman and former chief executive, testified before a U.S. Senate antitrust subcommittee last November and publicly declared that Apple's Siri voice assistant feature in the iPhone 4S could pose a "competitive threat" to Google's core business. He cited two publications that called Siri a "Google killer" and Apple's "entry point" into the search business in an effort to convince the committee that Google has many strong competitors in the online search market.