back to article Google can't hide behind Alphabet, EU competition commish warns

Google's parent company Alphabet could face more competition charges in Brussels, antitrust commissioner Margrethe Vestager has signalled. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, she spoke about the lengthy, multiple probes into Google's business practices, and said that each investigation was at a different stage, …

  1. ratfox Silver badge

    Don't hold your breath

    The previous attempt to fix the issue took too long for the antitrust commissioner to see it to end before he had to step down from his job. And that was the fast track.

    It's mind-boggling that this can take so long, but I guess each side is allowed months to prepare their retort. Even when the retort amounts to "Your momma".

  2. dogged

    That comment may be obvious to EU antitrust nerds, but try explaining why this investigation is taking place to people who use Google's myriad of services and find them very useful. They often fail to see why the allegations against Google should stick at all

    As proof of this, we can expect a small legion of Google fanbois to come along and say this isn't fair because the EU doesn't make Burger King sell Big Macs. They are utterly missing the point, of course, but I've come to suspect that's because they're not actually bright enough to understand the point.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, just one...

      Perhaps if you Europeans could have done even 1/8 as much to create the same software and services that Google had, you might have a point. You didn't, so all your sturm and drang is just more whining.

      However, since you lazy, complaining, blackmailers have done NOTHING to create a better product since Google before started, EVERYTHING you are saying about them is only sour grapes.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: No, just one...

        "Perhaps if you Europeans could have done even 1/8 as much to create the same software and services that Google had, you might have a point. You didn't, so all your sturm and drang is just more whining.

        However, since you lazy, complaining, blackmailers have done NOTHING to create a better product since Google before started, EVERYTHING you are saying about them is only sour grapes."

        Yeah, Europe. What have you done towards inventing the World Wide Web?

        1. ItsNotMe
          Facepalm

          Re: No, just one...

          "Yeah, Europe. What have you done towards inventing the World Wide Web?"

          Sure...so I suppose next you're going to try and tell us that Tim Berners-Lee is from Europe? Everyone knows he is from Great Britain and not Europe. Geeessshhh!

          1. John Presland

            Re: No, just one...

            Do you own a map? If you do you should look at it: you'll see that, UKIP fantasies notwithstanding, Britain is part of Europe.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Arion

            Re: No, just one...

            Hmmm - I think it might be more relevent that he was working at CERN (Geneva, Switzerland) at the time, which would be squarely in Europe, but outside the European Union.

        2. Asterix the Gaul

          Re: No, just one...

          "Yeah, Europe. What have you done towards inventing the World Wide Web"?

          Can I phone a 'friend'? His name is Tim Berners Lee,AKA TimBL.

        3. Asterix the Gaul

          Re: No, just one...

          I think that you will find that it was a (european),specifically,British man who created it at CERN.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No, just one...

        However, since you lazy, complaining, blackmailers have done NOTHING to create a better product since Google before started, EVERYTHING you are saying about them is only sour grapes.

        Oh, so because I didn't invent my car I am by your logic barred from criticising it? Or let's discuss drones. I didn't invent them, and apparently nobody can come up with a better idea to kill people without a substantial number of innocents killed as well (no, I'm not calling them 'collateral damage', they are people, they are innocent and they are being killed by remote control - apparently up to 90% of so-called "surgical strikes" were more "me bang club in middle of crowd and splat some" neanderthal tech when it comes to accuracy). So, by your logic I'm subjective if I find these things questionable.

        Google is breaking the law in many ways and in many countries, and I think it is perfectly acceptable to comment on it, and to call a halt to it.

        Maybe you're just jealous because the EU is protecting rights that US people have lost - no wait, given away - about 15 years ago?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No, just one...

        "Perhaps if you Europeans" didn't take long. I suggest you read the last paragraph.

        Sometimes, I think that you just couldn't make this up. What happened to evolution, did it stop at the point you could watch cat videos all day?

        This is like the Brittish East India company all over again, trading trinkets for valubles. Why do we seldom learn from history, is it not taught in schools?

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: No, just one...

        "Perhaps if you Europeans could have done even 1/8 as much to create the same software and services that Google had, you might have a point. You didn't, so all your sturm and drang is just more whining."

        Riiiight. So all those anti-trust cases in the US against Morgan, Rockefeller, Carnegie, the "Steel Trust" and so on should never have happened either? These were people buying off senators and governers and even tried their hands at buying the presidency.and talking over the treasury. Oh, wait...

      5. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: No, just one...

        > Perhaps if you Europeans could have done even 1/8 as much to create the same software and services that Google had, you might have a point.

        Well actually, how about a lesson in real history ...

        Take maps for example. Google were most certainly not the first into that market, but what they were able to do was to come in and cross subsidise their own service using the income from their dominance in advertisingsearch. So while others were in fact offering map services, Google had the advantage of an effectively bottomless money pit to subsidise theirs. Thus they were able to offer for "free"* what others had to charge for in order to pay the bills.

        In addition, Google's dominance in search meant that they could push their own mapping to the top of the search results** - thus ensuring that lots of people got to find out about it very quickly, while others got pushed down the search results and thus lost users.

        So don't go saying "no-one tried to do <blah>" when in actual fact people were trying to do those things - they were just crushed by the minor issue of having to pay bills while having to compete with "free"*. Plenty of people were doing stuff, before this 800lb gorilla came along and actively destroyed every market it felt like entering.

        That is why there are so many complaints/legal actions going on.

        Unfortunately, just like the Internet Explorer business - any "remedy" will be too little, too late as it won't come until years after those businesses destroyed by Google have long since run out of money and gone.

        * Nothing is free - when you use a Google service it is not free, it may be free (as in no monetary charge) to you, but that's only because to Google YOU are the product being sold !

        ** Bear in mind that an awful lot of people simply click the first result, and I believe there are stats showing that if you aren't on the first page (top ten results) then you might as well not exist to many.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS still has >90% desktop market share as MS fanboys like to point out which is a lot higher than Google's search market share.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ->MS still has >90% desktop market share

      One monopoly doesn't excuse another, but what I find a little depressing is that in between allowing the CAP to be a massive subsidy for French farmers and saying "Emission limits? What emission limits?" in 2013, the EU has singularly failed to support homegrown alternatives to Google and Microsoft. Having allowed the US to roll all over the world software industry, it has suddenly found out about it - for one company - just as it only really took an interest in Microsoft over browsers.

      I am in favour of the EU, but the present crony system is a little too close to corporatism for my liking. Juncker was a mistake given the status of Luxembourg as a tax haven. Back in the 1980s the EU actually seemed to be about the citizens; not so much now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ->MS still has >90% desktop market share

        >One monopoly doesn't excuse another

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/10624447/EU-Commissioner-hits-back-at-Microsoft-over-Google-complaints.html

        When it's hypocritical.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      "MS still has >90% desktop market share as MS fanboys like to point out which is a lot higher than Google's search market share."

      1) False. In Europe, Google's market share is above 90%, so your entire point is wrong.

      2) It's about abusing a monopoly. If you remember, MS was, in fact, done for market abuse. So comparing MS to Google to prove Google is fine isn't a great strategy.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "MS still has >90% desktop market share as MS fanboys like to point out which is a lot higher than Google's search market share." And two wrongs make a right?

      Grow up or get more intelligent, your choice, either usually works.

  4. naive

    How can you fight a monopoly which offers products for free

    Google started offering search around 1996/1997 (?) on a few IBM RS/6000 F50 servers.

    Google perfected search

    Google made maps (first)

    Google made street view (first)

    Google made Android (First free smartphone OS)

    Google made Google earth (first)

    .......

    Google now has a dominant position towards companies, who for 90%, tried to ignore internet as long they could in the period 1997-2010. Now they found out they can not live without it, and need Google to get found at all by potential customers. It will be a hard call for the EU to start fining a company giving away services for free to the general public, because others who did not to think about how internet would impact them in time, start whining about having to pay Google to become visible at all.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: How can you fight a monopoly which offers products for free

      "Google made maps (first)"

      Damn, I must have imagined using those Internet mapping tools before Google Maps.

      "Google made Android (First free smartphone OS)"

      I don't buy a smartphone OS, I buy a smartphone. So the cost of the phone OS is largely irrelevant.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How can you fight a monopoly which offers products for free

        Not only was Google not first to do mapping (remember mapquest?) they didn't even develop it, they purchased the company who did. They also didn't develop Android, they purchased the company who did. They didn't develop Google Earth either, they purchased the company who did (the US government actually started that project)

        Of your whole list the only thing they can take responsibility for is Street View.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How can you fight a monopoly which offers products for free

          >Of your whole list the only thing they can take responsibility for is Street View.

          They can't really take responsibility for that either. They got that one on the cheap by throwing some cash at a few cheap students (The Stanford CityBlock Project), then tidied it the results of the student hackathon and rebadged it as their own.

          And anyway, it was never Google's idea ... multiple entities have had a go at the same thing (probably) starting with Aspen Movie Map (1978, MIT) that created a navigable, virtual drive-through of Aspen, Colorado.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How can you fight a monopoly which offers products for free

          Of your whole list the only thing they can take responsibility for is Street View.

          Which they managed to screw up when they *cough* "accidentally" *cough* collected data from open WiFi networks (well, allegedly only open network, we don't know for sure that that was the only code deployed), because installing a war driving front end and a complete back end to receive that data can happen by accident in the Google Universe. Well, drifting off topic a bit, if you are prepared to accept that such things can indeed happen by accident, you most certainly should not have any feeling of safety in Google cars.

          Google has had one good trick which they used very well, Page Rank. The rest depended mostly on a fairly enthusiastic ignoring of the laws of other countries, hence the number of lawsuits they're currently exposed to.

        3. Arion

          Re: How can you fight a monopoly which offers products for free

          Ummm - No. Street View was announced in 2007. A9.com ( Amazon Company ) had block view 2 years earlier.

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: How can you fight a monopoly which offers products for free

      Maps, Android, Earth were bought in using Advertising revenue and changed to support Advertising. The Search originally was unbiased. Now it's gamed by Google to support adverts. Hence it is dishonest and works as a bookmarking service. It's not as good for real searching of stuff you don't know, but better at serving relevant adverts and listing places you visited before.

      Street view was created to slurp private info, WiFi (not needed now due to Android) and support adverts on Maps. It's primarily capital expenditure, not technology, only justified by extra advertising revenue.

      What sort of company needs a line like "Do no evil"? They might as well register "No harm done" too.

      They are a threat greater than MS ever was. So is Facebook.

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: How can you fight a monopoly which offers products for free

        Microsoft might, NOT be the threat, that Google, currently are.... But, HOLY ZARQUN they're trying!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How can you fight a monopoly which offers products for free

          Microsoft is "trying" but they are so unfocused now because everything they've done in the past 20 years has been a reaction to what someone else has done:

          Web becoming a big thing? Let's build IE into the OS so everyone is forced to use it, and have Frontpage use HTTP extensions that only IE understands.

          AOL is making a lot of money selling online access? We should sell online access, and build the client in to the OS so everyone is more likely to choose ours.

          Phones are starting to get the capability to do email? Let's start doing our own phones, and have them do email also, and have extensions to Exchange that only our phones can access.

          Sony is making a lot of money with the Playstation? Let's make our own games console, and not worry if we lose billions on it because eventually it has to make money, right?

          Apple is having success with a music player? Let's make our own music player, and offer it in a shit brown color to be original.

          Google is starting to make a lot of money in web search? We should make our own search and build it into the OS....wait, we agreed not to do that? How will we get people to use it?

          Now Apple's got a phone that totally obsoletes our phone because it obsoletes the phones we were trying to copy? Let's try to copy Apple's phone....maybe we should offer it in brown?

          After 15 years of us trying to sell tablets to an unwilling public, Apple figured out what people want in a tablet? Let's do a tablet like theirs, except make the largest change in the history of the Windows GUI so it is touch based even on PCs that don't have touch, because reasons.

          No one wants our tablets even when we switched to ARM to make them like everyone else's? Let's stick an expensive x86 CPU in them so they can run full Windows and add a keyboard into the cover so it is essentially too heavy tablet AND a laptop with a super shitty keyboard! People will want that because Apple isn't smart enough to combine the worst attributes of tablets and laptops into a single device.

          No one is buying our phones, let's buy the one company that makes most of our phones so we can brand them as Microsoft instead of Nokia, because when people hear the word Microsoft they think quality!

          Apple is making a lot of money selling stuff at premium prices and not slinging ads at their customers, while Google is making a lot of money giving away stuff for free while collecting personal information and using that to sling ads at their users. For the next version of Windows we should double dip by following both strategies: We need to charge OEMs to install it and ALSO let consumers install it for free while collecting all sorts of personal information that we hope will allow us to sling ads at them. If they don't want to play along we'll make Windows Update do everything in its power to force people to upgrade to the new Windows whether they like it or not, because nothing makes a happy customer like forcing major changes against their will on equipment they paid for!

          I wonder what their next failed plan to ape Apple and Google will be, and how Microsoft will fuck it up due to their inability to understand what parts of their strategies make them successful and more importantly what things they didn't do that made them successful.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: How can you fight a monopoly which offers products for free

      Nothing Google offers is "for free".

      Economics 101, Lession 1: Ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Further to my previous comment about Google not being the first to StreetView

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hf6LkqgXPMU#t=1m20s

  6. Ilmarinen
    Thumb Down

    I don't think *I* fail to see this

    "That comment may be obvious to EU antitrust nerds, but try explaining why this investigation is taking place to people who use Google's myriad of services and find them very useful. They often fail to see why the allegations against Google should stick at all."

    I don't think that *I* often fail to see this, nor I suspect does anyone who understands why we have anti-trust laws. You guess you must be talking about other folks Kelly.

    Personally, I find Google a bit creepy - especially that new pop up screen on Chrome when you try to do a web search. They can Fcuk Right Off about that one, I've changed the default search engine :-)

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Startpage

    Google results with a little less Google... probably.

  8. Daggerchild Silver badge

    You ain't seen nuffin' yet

    Just wait until people start arguing about which competing services a user's AI is allowed to use when formulating answers. They will induce monopoly singularities harder and faster than the humans already do.

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