Google has been hit with a barrage of anti-trust complaints in Germany, with two publisher groups, a mapping firm and a Microsoft-owned ad firm launching an enveloping movement on the ad broker and sometime search firm. The quartet of actions follow hard on the heels of a Paris-backed pummeling for Google in France, and a little …
And what is the view of blighty?
Mandy is too busy having his belly tickled while rolling round on lots of large cash filled brown envelopes.
It certainly does show another step of France and Gemany speaking the same language and leaving us in the cold. How many times has this been the case of late? Europe moves on and we are left paying the cheque.
Or possibly not. Remember UK.gov in general seem to be very pro-Microsoft and you really can't be pro-MS and pro-Google at the same time.
.. why the UK gov is pro-MS.
Just check where the MS UK head of EMEA sales worked before he joined MS..
Before there was Google Maps, there were tons of other free mapping sites. I guess some of them are still around. However, the one Google offers is so much more advanced and userfriendly, it is no surprise the others got into trouble.
For years we were stuck with crappy mapping sites, with NO progress in usability. So if they now went out of business, it is their own damn fault.
As for the news sites: if Google only serves the headline, it should generate traffic to the newssites, not steal it away. The question to answer is just: how much of preview do you want to see in the search results? No preview makes searching not efficient, more preview makes the publishers unhappy.
As for the news sites...
Google's response should be to change their spider's default from "index" to "don't index". Then publishers would have the choice and the default option would keep all the copyright lawyers happy. I'm actually rather surprised that they haven't already done this. It wouldn't cost them at all (because let's be honest, nearly everyone would just instruct their web server to add "index" to all their pages) and it would give them a cast iron defence in court.
"In the case of mapping, Google has so much cash lying around that it can give stuff away for free - meaning other firms are deprived of their business models."
The real world analogue of this is called dumping and it's illegal in Europe and indeed the US. Giving stuff away free, or at least selling it at way below cost, is usually used as a way of harming the competition and that's why it's illegal. There's no reason the internet should be any different. Google can afford to do it because of their massive advertising revenue and using income from one business sector to harm rivals in another has got to be seen as bad for the market in that sector.
Restricting choice in any market sector has got to be bad for capitlism, which would tend to demonstrate that Google are not only anti-competitive but un-American as well.
re: AC @ 16:53 - Real World
If the real world analogy is illegal product dumping, then the same case can be made for EVERY website on the internet that does not charge you to access it.
The Reg doesn't charge you to access it's articles, and host a paper rag does. Since it and it obviously costs something to produce and host the content , it follows that The Reg is "Dumping" their product, and is engaging in illegal anti-competitive behavior - at least according to the definition that you are applying to Google.
Any other website that provides content for free (most of the internet) would run afoul of the same problems.
The reality is that giving stuff away for free or below cost in the brick and mortar world is called "Loss Leading". It is a well-established, consumer-friendly way for a company to gain prospective clients or increase market share.
If Loss Leading didn't exist and wasn't accepted, your "free" cell phone would have cost you $600+ at signup. Instead, by selling the phones at a loss or giving them away the cell carriers were able to increase market penetration with the intention of making up the loss on the back end of the contract.
Google wasn't the first to provide online Mapping, and they are not the best ones in the marketplace, but they provide the service as a loss leader to get you into trying their other services. If you run a mapping service and don't like it, well, you can either throw a tantrum or produce a product that gives the consumer a better value. We can see what the competition did here.
I'm not trying to support Google here - I am trying to support a free Internet, where people can provide or share their content for free if they so desire. If you want to post your vacation pictures online and let others use them, then you shouldn't be sued by stock photography companies because your free picture of an empty beach competes with their ability to sell someone a picture of the same beach.
Rubbish. Google's business model is to offer free access to ad-ridden content and make the advertisers pay rather than the end-reader. That's not dumping. It's just a different business model and its a perfectly legitimate one. Where do you think Google's cash pile comes from?
not dumping if it's the same price as everyone else
Many of the other mapping services were free too. I was an avid mapquest user before google maps became better than theirs.
Same price but better quality. How is that dumping?
"Google wasn't the first to provide online Mapping, and they are not the best ones in the marketplace"
So who's better? Haven't heard anyone recommending anybody else so perhaps you'd share with us as we're always willing to entertain the concept of better services?
It has to be said that Bing is better if only because they provide OS mapping. The standard maps provided by Google, Bing, et al are useless for almost anything other than simple driving instructions.
Ordnance Survey next...
I assume Euro-Cities will be suing OS next for allowing people to use their mapping data.
Does that mean Microsoft can sue Ubuntu for giving away an operating system?
Isn't there some sort of strange copyright rule that the OS own the copyright on any accurate map of any part of the UK? Presumably on the basis that they were the first people to create an accurate map of the UK. It's complete nonsense but I'm sure I read about it once.
I am reminded of...
...the early days of the Internet, when we were paying $5 per subscriber to license Netscape's Mozilla browser.
Then one day Microsoft invited us to a meeting and unveiled IE, and more importantly for us, IEAK. It did everything Netscape did, except cost money.
That was the beginning of the end for Netscape.
Earlier in the 90's, Wal-Mart used a similar tactic to put almost every small town merchant out of business, selling items below cost until the competition starved.
Those weren't the early days of the Internet or even the web. In the early days of the web we were using Mosaic and the originally free Netscape betas. In the early days of the Internet there were no web browsers and we used email, newsgroups, ftp and gopher.
"Microsoft claims the deal violates competition rules ..."
So they're OK with it then?
@AC 18th January 2010 17:02 GMT
> "Microsoft claims the deal violates competition rules ..."
The rules say you aren't allowed to compete with M$
time to get a new business idea
At one time you wanted office software, web browsers, photo editing software etc your only choice was to pay for them but then open source versions came out that were free and the companies that wanted to charge for their software had to come up with better versions or face going bankrupt.
If Euro-Cities maps aren't good enough that people will pay for them its tough titties for Euro-Cities, time to get a new business plan.
"It would be an incredibly cynical person who would suggest that Google's sudden qualms about working in China and subsequent seeking of Hillary Clinton's protection had anything to do with a suddenly more hostile regulatory environment in Europe. ®"
It would be daft to suggest such a correlation.
The issues in Europe have long been brewing before the China fiasco.
The truth is that Google has been smug and taken a belief that they were beyond the law and that if it was good for them, then it was good for the general public. Nothing could be further than the truth.
The pineapple is for the pig whose name is google.
I'm not bashing google for the sake of being a google hater, but that Google has some serious legal and ethics problems to deal with.
Pot calling kettle black
Microsoft is simply trying to save face over Google's ads appearing on a site owned by them.