Brussels' statement of objections against Google is MEATY
Antitrust probe to deliver 400-page wad detailing complaints
Google will be hit with a statement of objections document from the antitrust wing of the European Commission that is reportedly more than 400 pages in length.
According to the Financial Times, that tome – detailing complaints from a variety of outfits that allege Google abused its dominant position in the search engine market – will land on CEO Larry Page's lap in early 2012.
The EC opened a formal investigation into allegations that Google has abused its dominant position in online search by illegally favouring, or gaming, its own services in November last year.
Those formal proceedings followed complaints from search providers that Mountain View's sponsored and unpaid search results showed preference to Google's own services.
Investigators have been probing evidence that Google allegedly lowered the results position of rival services such as price comparison sites in its unpaid results. The commission has also been looking at allegations that Google unfairly lowered the "Quality Score" for sponsored links of competing services.
Brussels has additionally been investigating claims that Google imposes exclusivity agreements with advertisers which prevent them from displaying adverts from rival search services on their own sites.
Allegations of restrictions of the portability of online advertising campaign data to other online advertising platforms, has also been probed by the EC.
The original complainants – Foundem, eJustice and Microsoft-owned Ciao! – whose gripes with Google prompted the EC into opening an investigation into those allegations, were later joined by a chorus of other companies that claimed the ad broker was abusing its dominant online position.
In June this year the US Federal Trade Commission confirmed it had opened its own antitrust investigation into Google's search and advertising practices.
Meanwhile, the FT reports that Google chairman Eric Schmidt will be in Brussels next week pressing flesh with EU Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia, presumably to ensure that the company's buyout of Motorola Mobility gets the nod from Euro regulators.
The European Commission said late last month that Google had applied for permission to takeover $12.5bn Motorola Mobility on 25 November. Brussels gave Mountain View a provisional deadline of 10 January for its answer.
It will be interesting if January 2012 ends up being the month when Google potentially clears one competition hurdle only to be floored by another. ®
I don't see Foundem because I don't search for "foundem"
Where Google is taking money for advertising and the positioning of said advertising - there is some merit there to an investigation. To make sure they are selling space fairly, and certainly shouldn't be blocking competitor results...
But where trolls like Foundem are complaining about not coming No. 1 on a free listing service? Excuse me but WTF? What about Foundems competitors (other veritical search companies excluding Google)? Where does the right of Foundem come from to be No. 1 as opposed to one of their competitors such as pricegrabber.com, or shopping.yahoo.com, or pronto.com? These are Foundems competitors, not Google, so where do they sit?
Shockingly. most are capable of clicking on results below the first one listed. I also continue through to other pages if I don't see what I'm looking for. If I search for an item, and see Foundem listed No. 1 it's more than likely I'll look further down the page for better results, or even Google's Shopping. Sorry Foudem, I just don't want to use your website, can you get that through your thick skulls?!
Let's get it straight:-
- If I search for "foundem", I expect to see foundem.co.uk in one or all of the first 3 results on Google.
- If I search for "vertical search", I expect to see foundem.co.uk somewhere in the results - amongst it's competitors - on the first or second page of Google results.
- If I search for "price comparisons", I expect to see foundem.co.uk somewhere in the results - amongst it's competitors - in the first few pages of Google results.
- If I search for "<item or service> comparisson", I expect to see foundem.co.uk even further down the list, several page clicks in fact, because I expect to see the likes of specialist sellers of <item> and others before that.
- If I search for "<item or service>", I do not expect to see foundem.co.uk in the results anywhere at all - I expect to see manufactures, then specialist sellers, then high street shops websites where I can actually purchase the item, not another search engine where I have to search all over again.
Maybe Google should simply put "1. " against all their results listed and then no matter where Foundem appears, they can simply state Foundem is our "number 1" result when you search for it. More seriously, they could create a new category on the left-hand side called "Competitors" or "Vertical Search Sites" then let the vertical search sites like Foundem, PriceGrabber, Yahoo Shopping, Pronto etc... battle it out to be no. 1 of that category and basically stop them cluttering our search results page.
This is nothing like IE on Windows. MS have put an option screen now for the most popular web-browsers but it's not like Mozilla or Google are complaining that MS has not put their icon to the left most part of the option dialogue. The choice is there now... this is like bitching about the icon ordering.
Yes. And Starbuck's should let me buy a Costa coffee in their shop, Visa should let me pay for Mastercard transactions with my card, and Argos' website should direct me to Ikea for furniture.
There's having a dominant position, and ABUSING a dominant position and they are two different things. I don't see Google-branded products stuffed into every website I go to except where the webmasters have CHOSEN to do that. I don't see Google MAKING you have them as their homepage, or stopping you going to another site.
It's the people who are too dumb to recognise that Google is a business and they have a CHOICE as to whether to use it or not that are complaining. Those who don't want to use it aren't using it, and they're not obliged to, ever.
Compare to trying to buy a PC without Windows on it, as of ten years ago. Now *THAT'S* abuse of a dominant position.
Don't be evil
Sigh... couldn't even get that right, could you?