Feeds

El Reg drills into Google's search biz offer to Europe

Mountain View wants to choose its EU inspector

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Time for the market to rebut the offer?

Microsoft, which is the best-known - if not the most relevant - complainant in the EC's Google competition case, has declined to comment directly on the offer tabled by Mountain View.

It's now up to the market to put it to the test.

However, lobby group ICOMP - which is backed by Microsoft - was quick to point out that it will be looking closely at the proposals to ensure that such remedies would indeed restore competition in Europe. It said:

If the proposals don’t clearly set out non-discrimination principles and the means to deal with the restoration of effective competition, plus effective enforcement and compliance, it’s very difficult to see how they can be satisfactory.

Commissioner Almunia himself has stated that returning competition to markets effectively destroyed by Google’s dominance and abuse of that position is the main aim of this investigation. We will comment further once we have had an opportunity to evaluate the proposals in more detail but it is clear that mere labelling is not any kind of solution to the competition concerns that have been identified.

Google should implement the same ranking policy to all websites. This should include their own vertical services which currently have their ranking unfairly manipulated to appear at or near the top of search results.

The European Consumers Organisation (BEUC) - which is funded by the European Union and is made up of national competition quangos from 30 different countries - has previously expressed concern about Google's plans to label its web properties on its search engine. The idea has been floated since last autumn.

BEUC said on Thursday that it was disappointed with Google's proposal arguing that the offer was unlikely to address the company's "monopoly" of the search market in Europe. It continued:

Labelling results will do little or indeed nothing to prevent Google from manipulating search results and discriminating against competing services. It may even shepherd consumers towards clicking on Google services now highlighted in a frame. Labelling should not be the sole solution.

Infringements of competition rules call for strong and rigorous structural remedies where needed, going beyond the halfway house of consumer information. Labelling an infringement of competition law doesn’t prevent it being an infringement.

The proposal to display links to three rival specialised services raises the natural question of who decides the promotional criteria. If that is Google, it leaves too much discretion in their lap while most importantly, not solving the problem of non-discriminatory choices for consumers.

The lobby group is hoping to convince the commission to push for more stringent changes from Google before any deal about possible anti-competitive practices is struck.

It's important to note, however, that Almunia has now accepted the wording of Google's commitments to fix its search dominance in Europe by allowing the offer to proceed to the next stage. Horse-trading between the commissioner and Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has gone on for many months with a number of proposals submitted by Google being rejected by Almunia.

It really is now up to the market to either convince the competition chief to continue fighting the ad giant, or else belt up for the five-year ride to see if Google can truly commit. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.