back to article Schmidt ducks antitrust questions lobbed from Congress

When Google's Eric Schmidt testified before Congress on Wednesday, the first question came from Senator Herb Kohl, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights. And Schmidt responded with the sort of holier-than-thou attitude you find only at Google. "Google has acquired or …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do no evil?

    To my mind using the "Do no evil" mantra to dodge legitimate questions has to be just a tiny bit evil, no?

    1. Ru

      Of course not.

      Because that would be evil, and he's just told us they don't do that.

  2. Graham Marsden

    Do no evil...

    ... or if you do, don't get caught...!

  3. Turtle

    Exactly the right impression.

    I, as a someone who considers Google to be a borderline criminal enterprise - and over the border, too, in certain cases - am *very* pleased to see that Schmidt is making exactly the kind of impression on Capital Hill that I (as someone who considers Google guilty of criminal behavior and who would like to see Schmidt et al pay with some time in the pen) would want Schmidt to make.

    Good work! Keep it up, please!

  4. Jimbo in Thailand

    And don't forget... irrelevant Google search results are becoming. I've mentioned this before but just type in <any consumer product> Review and instead of listings of reviews, the results are almost always resellers. I've noticed this heinous trend getting much worse during the past year. Not only that but many of the results are completely unrelated to my search criteria as in completely different product links shown, etc. etc....WTF??!!

    Do no evil...yeah, right!!! The proof is how can any corporation be trusted that has contracts with the US government's NSA, maybe even the CIA, and only God knows who else? It's only a matter of time before Schmidt's outfit crosses a line they can't bullshit their way out of...only a matter of time.

  5. PAW
    Thumb Down

    Can any website be a monoply in a free (mostly) country?

    Does Google have a monopoly in search that makes these hearings relevant? Right now this looks like watchdog agencies sniffing and growling at the behest of Google's competitors. Maybe not such a bad thing, but if Google is declared to be a monopoly, I think that would be an injustice.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Agreed. This is like complaining that grocery stores don't advertise competitors prices in store. Regardless of whether you consider their practice to be fair, Google has no obligation to be fair. There is no such thing as a monopoly in search. There is no entry barrier to the search industry.

      Every Tops, Giant, Wegmans, etc I've ever been to has their own store brand right next to the mainstream brands. Why are Google's rights and freedoms being infringed upon?

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    In any case, as far as this one is concerned I am with Google

    This is just a repeat of the price comparison search complaint.

    As a consumer I am greatful that Google cleaned up its search results. Prior to the "price comparison site eviction" up to the first 3 pages in search on anything product related were price comparison sites. It was a thriving industry allright ( they were dishing out salaries on par with the financial sector circa 2006). It was however a thriving industry of parasites which added little or no consumer value.

    FFS if I want price comparison I would ask for price comparison. If I am searching on Google I am more likely interested with what the thing does, what people think about it, what faults it may have and so on.

    In any case, he is actually right - Google is not seeking to maximise profit across all of its enterprises. A large number of projects and enterprises run by Google are "scorched earth" which protects search results and adwords. As far as that one is concerned Google is also not seeking to maximise its profit because it will be in the dock 15 minutes later as it has a near monopoly on that one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have to agree about the removal of price comparison sites. When I'm looking for equipment I want the specs from the manufacturer first not a load of 'where to get it from' idiot sites with no practical information.

  8. Chris Miller

    Not ... trying to maximize profits

    In that case, what happened to his duty to his shareholders, who he is paid to represent?

    1. redhunter

      Ubiquitous corporate charitable donations are a needless reduction of shareholder wealth, but that doesn’t stop executives from using other people’s money to fund their pet charities. If executives want to have fun with other people’s money they should get into politics and not commerce. Given that a couple of significant shareholders of Google may have motives that are unrelated to profits but are nonetheless far from benevolent, they may be fine with their CEO spouting some “'I'm not sure Google is trying to maximize profits” mantra.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      An executive doesn't have a duty to maximize profits really. They have a duty to act consistently. Investors are able to choose their portfolio based on risk and return. More return would entail more risk. If investors want this kind of company to invest in, they can find one. Google remains a low risk investment, and as such doesn't maximize to the bleeding edge of profitability.

      1. Chris Miller

        There's a difference between an executive, who remains an employee of the company (even the CEO), and the board of directors (including the chairman) who represent the shareholders. Google is slightly odd in that a couple of the senior execs are also the principal shareholders, but that doesn't alter these facts. The US fudges this distinction and allows (far too many) 'Chairman & CEOs', but such positions are heavily deprecated on the eastern side of the pond.

        The presumed desire of the shareholders is the maximisation of their return, over the long term. We can argue about how long the long term should be, but execs who don't recognise this desire and decide they would like to give it all away to the deserving poor, probably won't last long in their post.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do no evil?

    Brin wears crocs ffs

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know Schmidt has a reputation ...

    ... for coming across as a venal sociopathic creep but it's still alarming to read the stuff he comes out with. Part of me thinks that he might just believe all that nonsense himself.

    Given that there now seems to be some scientific evidence that the internet (and its Google-lisation) is changing the way we think at a neurological level, am I the only one who is alarmed at the prospect of this "trusssssst in me"* brainwashing and the likelihood of it turning a great many of us into something akin to HG Wells' Eloi?

    * see The Jungle Book cartoon.

  11. Gerhard Mack

    I *hate* price comparison sites

    I really hate them, they pollute my search results with sites that only link to other sites and are a royal pain when trying to find ratings or technical info on a product. Several of the companies listed here are already on my block list inside search settings.

  12. qwertyuiop

    Breaking the law?

    If I was a Google shareholder I think I might be consulting a lawyer. Schmidt has come out and said that Google isn't necessarily trying to maximise profits - but surely it's the legal duty of a corporation to maximise the return to its shareholders?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Our society is getting scary with people like you running around voting and reproducing.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If Schmidt doesn't know... ?

    Quote: "Schmidt responded without hesitation. "I'm not sure Google is a rational business trying to maximize its own profits"

    Schmidt is in doubt about the plans and intentions of the company he represents? Or is that a mechanism for smoothly dodging the questions? I'm inclined to think the latter. And if Google's intentions were anything other than "maximum profits", I'm sure he would be proud to give a straight answer. His slippery answers speak volumes.

  14. <shakes head>

    are director not required by law to maxamise profit? i thought it was one of their duties.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      People these days are scary...

      If your ridiculous premise were true, then Steve Jobs would be the biggest criminal in history. Apple is sitting on more cash and liquid assets than the US Fed. That is a huge non-maximization of profits.

      If you were required by law to maximize return then sporting events, gambling and drinking would be illegal as they are "wastes of money".

  15. Steve Knox


    Schmidt: "Google Product Search is about getting you to a product. We tend to look for the product, as opposed to the product comparison in this particular case, which is why the product is more highly ranked than the result of a product comparison site. If you did the same study with all of the other product sites, you would find a very different site."

    Foundem: "Why does Google’s Universal Search mechanism so consistently place Google Product Search at or near the top of most price-comparison-related searches, if Google Product Search is not a price comparison service? For example, hundreds of the data points shown in Foundem’s graph were for queries of the form: 'compare prices [MAKE MODEL]' and 'best price [MAKE MODEL].'"

    It seems to me Schmidt has answered Foundem's question here -- if Google considers GPS a product site rather than a price comparison site, and Google's algorithm is to search for a product above price comparisons, then a search like 'compare prices [MAKE MODEL]' would discount the words "compare" and "prices" in favor of "[MAKE MODEL]".

    In other words (assuming all parties are being honest here), Google seems to be trying to optimize the results based on what Google believes searchers want, rather than based solely on the raw text entered into the search box. This is consistent with Google's description of their "algorithm" and their entire search philosophy.

    Whether or not that's legally or morally correct is certainly up for grabs. But it is logically consistent.

  16. Armando 123

    Herb Kohl?

    Yeah, Herb, and if you had the competence to make a monopoly out of your boring department stores, you'd do it before you can say "think of the children".


  17. XMAN

    Right on. If he continues like this, they just might get annoyed enough to do something about those crooks.

  18. RPRoss

    Search monopoly is an oxymoron

    The market is in control here, not Google. I use Google because I am not overwhelmed with worthless price and comparison sites unless I use "review" or "compare" in my query. Though I must admit this is changing. I'm having to refine my word choices more and more to get relevant information at the top. In any case, Bing or Yahoo almost always returns sales oriented results or sponsored links first regardless of my refinements. That's not what I'm looking for, so I don't use them with any notable frequency. Market rules.

    If I was in the price comparison business, I would probably be in front of the feds looking for help, because that's what EVERYONE is doing these days. However, a more sensible approach might be to educate consumers on search choices. There are plenty.

    It's a waste of time and tax dollars. If they knew what they were talking about, they wouldn't bother. It takes more technical understanding than nearly anyone in these proceedings possesses. Schmidt knows how tenuous their dominance is. Their one whiz kid's algorithm away from being irrelevant. Anyone remember AltaVista?

  19. Dan 26


    I thought we all had the ability to type a url into a browser? Is this not the case?

    Here's me thinking that when i went to googles website i was using their service, i wasn't aware that their service was supposed to promote it's rivals to me! Seems an interesting concept really.

    It would be like going into a shop to buy a porsche and being offered a ferrari watch to go with your car because in the interests of fairness they can't snub ferarri's own watches!

    If the price comparison websites want more of a fair (read preferential, because that's what this is really about) search result for their own site then i guess they should get building their own damned search engine and get it to the place google is. Then they'll find out how tedious people like themselves are.

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