back to article Google gets all lawyered up for ‘ambiguous’ EU anti-trust case

Giant ad flinger Google has launched a 130-page legal counter attack on the EU's plan to open anti-trust charges against it, according to reports. The EU Commission believes the company has abused its dominant position in the market for general net search services by systematically favouring its own shopping comparison product …

  1. tiggity Silver badge

    Search engine a commercial entity shocker

    I'm sure there's some apathy in search engine use, but if someone is currently not happy enough with what google (or Bing or whoever else) is providing then not that difficult to use a different search engine.

    Back in the day, Google came from obscurity to be widely used partly via "word of mouth" - more tech savvy people recommending their friends / relatives gave this "new" search engine a try and see if they liked it better than "Ask Jeeves", "Yahoo" or whatever they were using at the time.

    Must say I cannot recall ever seeing Googles own "shopping comparison product" in general search results - any price searches I try just bring up the retail / price comparison sites I would expect (depending on search query used) & nothing that looks particularly Google branded.

    I have seen a separate shopping "tab", that resembles Amazon layout quite a lot, but would not regard that as "general results", I would assume that tab was skewed in some way, be it giving preference to Google advertisers, sites that pay for referrals that lead to purchase or even just to sites that expose useful APIs to allow product price data to be accurately obtained instead of using screen scrape.

    If users are unhappy with Google they can vote with their feet.

    If I went into a Ford car dealership I would expect them to try & sell me a Ford, not suggest I nip down the road to the Vauxhall dealership.

    Given that a search engine is a commercial entity, if I choose to use their services then I'm aware there may be flaws / bias.

    Caveat, I use Google directly for search sometimes (& quite a lot indirectly as often use metasearch engines such as dogpile as a lazy way to get results from multiple search engines the easy way).

    Given EU cash splashing enthusiasm, maybe they should fund an ideologically pure search engine with no commercial contamination if they are so bothered

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Search is a contestable monopoly, therefore we really shouldn't care if they do leverage it to promote their other products. There is no barrier to anyone who wants to creating their own search engine, and if the Google provision drops in quality people will leave it. That they are not seems to suggest that there is not a problem

    1. Pseu Donyme

      >Search is a contestable monopoly, ...

      Um ... no, it is a case of a multi-sided market, which results in a incontestable monopoly* in practice.

      *used colloquially: "dominant market position" would be a more accurate term (there is an apparent tendency of actual, real-life markets being too inefficient to result in a monopoly in a strict dictionary sense)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If search is a contestable monopoly

      Then so was Windows and so was Standard Oil. After all, you just needed to drill your own wells, build your own refineries and open your own network of service stations to sell the gas.

      The investment to compete with Google on search is massive. Economic barriers to entry are still barriers.

      1. Matt Siddall

        Re: If search is a contestable monopoly

        Then so was Windows and so was Standard Oil. After all, you just needed to drill your own wells, build your own refineries and open your own network of service stations to sell the gas.

        Windows has some level of lock-in, in terms of software that runs only on Windows and the cost of re-purchasing software for another OS. Where their monopoly becomes a problem is where they actively try to persuade people to not develop for their rivals.

        Standard Oil has a massive barrier to competition in the form of capital required to purchase land and drill wells.

        In contrast, how much does it cost to host a website?

        The investment to compete with Google on search is massive. Economic barriers to entry are still barriers.

        I could write a (very crappy) search engine today and put it on the web, thus competing with Google. It may be tough to take market share from them, but that's because they're really good at what they do, and that's what they would risk if they engage in dodgy behaviours. Bing, Yahoo, etc show this. If they had a better offering, people would use them in preference to Google.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Search - maybe

      Search ~ maybe

      OS == No. That is not a contestable monopoly. This has been proven in multiple court cases - Microsoft, IBM, etc.

      OS + Search == Definitely No

      OS + Search + Browser == Hell No

      OS + Search + Browser + IM + Social + Payment + Office == Lucipher on a snowplough clearing the runway for the Porcine Attack Squadrons for it to be a contestable monopoly. You will need the GDP of a Top-7 economy to even consider it.

  3. Your alien overlord - fear me

    To appease the EU, what Google needs to do is break up into seperate entities, Chinese walls etc. search engine one entity, other bits, other entities. Everyone's happy then :-)

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      How does the search engine make money if you take the advertising bit away? How does maps? Or, really, any of it?

      Google is the advertising business. Everything else is just services they offer to get your eyeballs in front of advertisers.

      Break something - anything - off from the advertising and it is dead. Completely and utterly. If that's your plan, have the genitalia to hand the staff their pink slips yourself. Look them in the eyes and tell them why they can't have jobs any more.

      But don't for a second pretend that Google is "multiple businesses". It's not.

  4. Grikath

    "And there was a great rising of lawyers.."

    Where's mr. Slant when you need him?

  5. Impunitus

    Provider agnostic

    I seem to recall that back in the day I much preferred Hotbot and Altavista to anything else. Tried the new fad named Google a couple of times, but having mastered keyword search more than two decades ago, failed to feel the attraction of natural language search. Nowadays I am rather satisfied with the search results Google provides and do not feel shorted even when comparison shopping. Should this ever change, I will start using another search engine just as quickly as I can type its URL in the browser. Surely not all that many people feel any bond or connection to Google that would not allow them to switch search providers? So why the hassle? What am I missing here? Overzealous European legislation or an actual threat to economy?

  6. Ilsa Loving

    Do people not understand what a Monopoly is anymore?

    Microsoft is a monopoly. Up until only recently, using anything else meant that you were basically screwed because nobody made stuff for any other platform. It was to the point that even physical hardware was tied to Windows (remember winmodems? winprinters?). Forget games. Forget pretty much anything mainstream. Heck, there's still no quickbooks for mac, let alone linux.

    Google is just a very very successful website. If I wanted, I could use bing. I could use duckduckgo. Or one of the other dozen search engines available. My computer won't suddenly stop working if I switch away from Google. I won't be prevented from doing... well... pretty much anything really... if I stopped using google.

    The EU people could be going after far more worthwhile targets than Google. But that's none of my business. <insert image of Kermit drinking tea>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do people not understand what a Monopoly is anymore?

      Do Americans even understand what a Monopoly is any more?

      Rhetorical answer: No, because decades of neo-liberal propaganda has made sure they don't.

      In the EU, a company can be considered dominant with only 40% market share, and this places special responsibilities on them to make sure they don't impair the common market with their shenanigans.

      That's the law, if you don't like it GTFO.

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