Google Search: “Google Antitrust Investigations”

Google, the Tech industry’s dominant force in Internet search, faces potential antitrust claims from the FTC as well as from the European Commission.  While battling rising competition in recent years, Google still controls 66.4% of Internet search traffic.  Rival Microsoft holds 15.9%, and Yahoo holds 12.8%.  Regulators would much rather settle with Google and subject them to certain business model changes, rather than file a formal complaint.  Some of the issues under discussion include the handling of complaints, transparency, service labeling, and consumer choice.

Rivals complain that Google does not fairly portray its search results, and favors its own services over others.  Specifically, rivals claim that Google does not handle complaints from competitors effectively, saying they do so in an “ad hoc and opaque” way.  Some sort of oversight as well as more systematic handling of complaints could solve this problem.  The FTC also wants more transparency from Google.  A possible solution for more transparent behavior would involve oversight by an independent governmental body, so that Google can avoid disclosing its valuable algorithms to rivals.  An additional issue is that of labeling it’s own Google services that appear after searches.  Rivals think that Google is misleading consumers and favoring its own services in search results as opposed to those of others because the consumers don’t know which ones are Google’s or those of a competitor.  Google has offered to adhere to the labeling change.  Another issue is that of choice, possibly giving consumers an option of how they want their search results to appear.

The European Commission seems to be having an easier time coming to a more reasonable agreement with Google because of less tough antitrust procedures and standards than in the US.  Google appears to be responsive and flexible in discussions with Government regulators here and across the Atlantic.  The company does not want a protracted and expensive antitrust lawsuit, which could damage its credibility.  However, Google absolutely has the resources to defend itself and will do so in the case that a reasonable compromise is not reached.  Unless there is clear and deliberate anticompetitive behavior, Google will not extend itself too far.  How flexible should Google be? How strongly should Google fight to retain their current market power?


The Financial Times

The San Francisco Chronicle

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One comment

  1. Google, Google, Google. This is the only name in internet searches. Once upon a time Yahoo was a household name; now it holds a 12% market share. So, how did Google knock off the former top-dog? Anti-competetive behavior is one possible answer, but I doubt it. Is it really that difficult to believe that Google is just that much better?

    Google advanced itself at a time when Yahoo had reached its peak and was no longer devoting itself to internet searches. Yahoo’s expansion to gaming and other entertainment took the focus of quality search results and poised the market for competition. Google answered.

    If I were in Google’s shoes I would give the FTC and the European Commission a bone by saying, “Ok. You want some data? Here is the most recent customer and employee satisfaction reports. Now get off our backs.” Google is one of America’s premier modern-day companies, and their policies and practices reflect a commitment to quality. I think that the FTC would be hard pressed to go to battle with Google. Nonetheless, if the FTC is seeking a battle over Google’s reporting of search result and promotion of products, then they can have at it.

    Google is a market competitor. Its products should be promoted on its website. First, they build the worlds greatest search engine. Then, they created products that capitalize on the good name of the company. Have you ever heard of a better business model? And search results? Who cares about search results? Nobody looks at that number anyway. If the FTC wants to go after someone, tell them that AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and Apple are waiting for their call. I say we leave the good guys, who promote sustainable development, internet technology, international trade and business, and a healthy and happy lifestyle, a break on what seems to be a frivolous investigation and potential law suit.

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