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back to article Watchdog backs Google antitrust complaint with (more) data

Public advocate and longtime Google critic Consumer Watchdog has issued a report alleging that the web giant may have used its search monopoly to illegally drive traffic to its own services. Citing three years of web data from research outfit Hitwise, the report claims that Google significantly increased its share of three …

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Grenade

um...

maps.google.com. I don't recall how I ended up there the first time, but I stayed because the "map" portion of the screen was larger than mapquest's. What's the point of having a 21" monitor if the map is only going to be 4"

Google should redirect all their searches to Yabing for a day and see if they can crash Yabing.

of course, an even better ploy would be to go off-line for 2 hours, world-wide, you know, with just a 1k html that says: Sorry, this Google server is on a 2-hour paid break.

I can't imagine what kind of havoc that would cause.

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FAIL

World will not end without Google

I imagine I would blink, then click on one of many links to other search engines.

Bing, Yahoo are both pretty good ones, and Ask.com and many others are still serving useful results.

My personal opinion Google results are CRAP in comparison to 2-3 years ago. Northern lights had more relevant results than Google does now.

Or Give dogpile.com a try, they could search and give results from Bing, Yahoo and Ask (will show Google too but they took their ball and went home)

Leveraging a dominant position in one market to gain dominance in another is monopolistic, and is against the law. Google should be prevented from taking over all business under the guise of helping everyone. Do no Evil indeed. apparently some Evil is less good than others?

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Ha!

'Do no Evil'?

'Do no good' appears more accurate

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FAIL

MS?

Microsoft had a *monopoly* with Windows - you couldn't really go elsewhere. Google is *not* a monopoly - you can go to many other search sites. If Google wants to push it's own services why can't it? I go to the local Tesco store and they advertise their phone service - should they be forced to advertise O2's? Should the O2 store be forced to advertise Vodafone's services?

This can be taken to pathetic levels. There's obviously something in it for the group involved. Need more funding or something do we?

Mapquest should advertise more if it's concerned about losing market share. I actually thought it had gone bust years ago...

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Anonymous Coward

I think you may be missing the point

Firstly Microsoft's antitrust was about them pushing Internet Explorer and Media Player on their OS - there were other options but it was about the default choice - actually quite a good parallel to Google pushing its own services.

In your simile, yes I think Tesco should advertise all phone operators - Tesco acts as a consumer front for third-party goods and services, much like an operating system or search engine, and it is in the consumer's best interest that a level-playing field is set up for fair competition. O2/Vodafone stores are not quite the same because they aren't generally seen as a point of interaction between multiple independent companies.

You say Mapquest should advertise more to combat losing market share... the point is they haven't really a hope in hell of advertising more than Google if Google decide to tip the scales even slightly, which is exactly what's being investigated. And although I agree it could be taken to pathetic levels, if you read the article and the Watchdog's guarded wording, it so far appears as if it's being treated sensibly and thoroughly.

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Monopoly

You don't seem to understand what the word "monopoly" means. It doesn't mean "no way out", it means having more ability to manipulate a market than can be reasonably expected under perfect competition (look it up). The term shows up when a company abuses its weight to sway the market, and that's what Google is doing.

What I find interesting is that Google seems to think it needs to do this. It's ahead with most of what it does, and it could easily go for a slightly more relaxed approach which wouldn't cost it so much in terms of image and lawsuits, but I guess that's not the Google way..

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Is is true!

Not true. You COULD buy a Mac (all those fanboise did afterall) or even Linux. Fact is Google is the default search engine in all browsers other than IE. That is something they pay for. Why? Because they know that once you search with Google you are more likely to find and use Google products. Same as MS in 80s and 90s - once you have Windows, you're more likely to use MS products.

Why can't Google push it's own services? It's a monopoly and there are certain rules which need to be abided by in that case. Just like MS got hammered by the courts in the last decade, well, Google will get hammered in the next decade. But it won't matter - they already control the internet. Just like MS already controlled the desktop.

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WTF?

RE: Is is true!

"they know that once you search with Google you are more likely to find and use Google products."

I use Google search all the time but it's never suggested a Google product to me... I'm confused. Do you mean that if I search for "holidays" then Google will suggest one of their own products? Even if they do suggest one of their own products, it's not a monopoly - their products are free, so ....

Just to check this, I did a search for "product" there was one advert on the page (for fire extinguishers). The third link (not the top one) was for Google Product search (a beta).

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Apples and walnuts

"Not true. You COULD buy a Mac (all those fanboise did afterall) or even Linux. "

While some PC:s or laptops with preinstalled Linux exist (if you look for them hard enough), the selection is VERY limited. Even getting a PC or Laptop without any OS so you can genuinely choose is difficult. Doable for PC:s, but almost impossible for laptops. (Google, which tries to ban Windows among its own staff, can probably make special deals with OEMs, something not possible for the average Microsoft-hater).

Comparing this to the simplicity of changing your browser to use a non-Google search engine and avoiding Google services in general is absurd.

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@AC Re: Is is true!

"I use Google search all the time but it's never suggested a Google product to me"

What, you've never seen YouTube video results or Google Maps results? And regarding Product Search being in beta - have you been living under a rock for the last ten years? Practically everything Google comes up with stays in so-called "beta" for years, even when they're busy taking over the market with it.

I've read the last paragraph of your comment three times but still it doesn't make any sense. What exactly are you proving by searching for the word "product" and not getting any results for any Google products? Try searching for "funny cat video" or your own postcode. Right there at the top, prominently placed, are Google products.

"...it's not a monopoly - their products are free..." Seriously now, are you trolling? There is absolutely no logic to what you are saying. If I was a grommet manufacturer and declared that from now on all my grommets would be free to everyone, so as a result everyone stopped buying other manufacturers' grommets and only used my free ones, do I or do I not end up with a monopoly?

I'm not making any value judgement of Google here, I'm just taken aback by the total lack of logic in your comment.

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Boffin

Re: RE: It is true! (AC 9:51)

"I use Google search all the time but it's never suggested a Google product to me... I'm confused."

Uh, yes, you are. One, Google will first list items that have paid to be linked first.. sorry.. paid to be advertised by Google.

Two, after that IF there is a Google product, it will be shown. This means that if you are looking for "holidays" - wow, links to YouTube with holiday videos, or Google Images with holiday snaps. These are the Google products they are talking about. Although, I am sure that if Google ever decided to produce fire extinguishers it would be sure to notify a Google server about the wifi of anyone who walked by... (j/k - maybe?)

Three, nearly all Google products are beta for (literal, not just internet) years - that's the concept that Google has put out of "the perpetual beta". Interestingly, there was an article on El Reg about it... but can't seem to find it through search. Hmmm.

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WTF?

Seriously?

Google games Google to promote Google. No shit. Stop bitching and try harder if your product or service can't keep up. There's more than one search engine.

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Terminator

Re: Seriously?

Here, let me put your comments in reference:

"Microsoft games Microsoft to promote Microsoft. No sh!t. Stop bitching and try harder if your product or service can't keep up with one of the largest online computer software multinationals on the planet that pays to be your default choice. There's more than one operating system/browser/office suite."

There, fixed that for you.

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WTF?

Seriously? - go back to the dark ages

OK so the King uses set up a bunch of Royal tailor shops, and uses his position of being the king to drive out the competition and your advice to the tailor put out of business is "try harder"

Your comment shows clearly that you do not grasp the detriment of one holding a monopoly position in a marketplace, nor the understanding that in the U.S 80-90% of a market usually will constitute a monopoly.

Let me know what kind of work you do for a living, I am sure I can give you an example of how it would be unfair for a larger corporation to come in and make your life harder simply by leveraging their size and money against you.

This is no different than if the Verizon took random calls to other competing business and routed the calls to their own internally competing division*. Google practically owns the index directory to the internet, and they are showing a strong pattern of behavior abusing this position of power. I saw practically, yes there are other search engines out there, but Google has already shown and ability to steer and control the market. Why would want to wait until a illegally acting monopolist has 100% control??!?! You stop them before they get to that position and they end up doing less damage to society that way.

*akin to what the mob does in Las Vegas they take over the local phone company, and simply re-route the calls to their own business. Person calling for a cab still gets a cab, but they guy who paid for the ad gets screwed.

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Stop

Illegal?

That seems kind of too strong. Unfair, maybe?

Isn't google free to do whatever it feels like with its results?

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No, not at all...

"Isn't google free to do whatever it feels like with its results?"

Not at all. This would be like saying "aren't market analysts allowed to do what they wan with their survey numbers." Ethical market analysts present you the bare facts. Unethical (OK, most of them) will twist the numbers to make them come out the way they want them to.

Same here - the implication is that Google is using its monopoly in the search market (say what you will, when you talks about search on the web to most people, they will think "google".) to promote their own products over those of the competition. Now, if they did so in the "google ad" section of the results, that's be one thing - but the source of this complaint is that what they have done is promote their products in the *search results*, for no other reasons that it's *their* products.

Now, I make no statement about whether or not this has actually happened - I merely point out that *this* is what the author of the reports seems to say has happened.

YMMV

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Well...

It sounds to me like you're using the term "monopoly" as only meaning "market leader". Not all market leaders are monopolies.

There is plenty of competition in the market. Bing, for one. Whether you like to wax poetic and say, "That is not a knife... THIS is a knife", wielding Google to prove that Bing is just a switch blade... it really doesn't matter.

People have a choice. The choice is easy to make. You can switch search engines at any time. Heck, you can search google for "search engine" to help you make that switch if you were so inclined.

The reason Windows was a true monopoly and, as a result, Microsoft was barred from using this monopoly to give them an unfair advantage in other markets... is because as Windows became the de facto operating system of computers, more and more software was being written for Windows... so, as time passed, even though there were a couple of options, these options just didn't have the developer support, software support, third-party support, and hardware support of Windows. So, people were forced to either use Windows... or say goodbye to a bunch of software and deal with compatibility issues when dealing with the rest of the world. That was a true monopoly.

If you choose to start using Bing, this isn't going to make you incapable of opening a file I send you, installing some software I need you to use, etc... so, your hands aren't really tied... you'll just be getting inferior results (or superior results, depending on your opinion). At that rate, there isn't a monopoly going on... it's just popularity.

There are no ethical lines between a popular service promoting their other services.

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Unhappy

Read your last line

"There are no ethical lines between a popular service promoting their other services."

OF COURSE THERE ARE, look Google is a search engine right? if you are looking for a new web browser then you will be pointed towards Chrome, if you are looking for a video of something you will be pointed towards You Tube, if you are looking for a map you will be pointed towards google maps.........

You see the point here don't you? The more products google "sell" then the more blurred your ethical line becomes since Google (the search engine) is pretty much the "defacto" search engine and Google WILL always push their products to you ABOVE the competition (even if Google's products are not the best or even most relevant)

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WTF?

you don't need 100% to act illegally

A company does not have to actually have a monopoly to act illegally.

Usually the illegal activity starts while they do not have a dominate share, it is the illegal activity that ends up giving the monopoly.

Search engine is NOT google's business, they are an advertising company mainly, that is where their revenue comes from.

This is not a popular service promoting themselves, this would be a popular service illegally gaming results to give them an unfair competitive advantage.

I don't understand why EVERYONE isn't more scared of this. Think about how you make your living, and now pretend that ANYTIME someone searches for the key terms about your work or industry, instead of YOUR company or Your Site being the number one link at the top of the results, it will be a competing service from google instead, and then your only option is "try harder" according to some here. BS I say!

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Boffin

Browsin' away

I was actually interested in the idea of searching for a new browser. I run Chrome, Firefox and IE on my laptop, and have whatever the shitty Nokia basic thing is on Symbian and Opera Mobile.

So I did a search on the first google place I stumbled upon in each one (address bar for chrome, search area for Firefox, www.google.com for IE, www.google.com for Symbian Browser, and search area for Opera Mini). The search term was "browser" and I am listing the top results in each case as they appear on the browser

Chrome : Wikipedia - Wikipedia (+ "more at Wikipedia") - Firefox - Opera - Chrome - Safari - Safari - Flock - "Browser statistics" from w3schools - "What is browser? (sic)" from webopedia

Firefox : Wikipedia - Definition of the word "Browser" - Firefox - Google Image results - Chrome - Avant Browser - Crazy Browser - Zac Browser - Opera - Fox Splitter (Firefox addon) - chromium browser forum

IE : Wikipedia - Wikipedia (+ "more at Wikipedia") - Firefox - Google Image results - Opera - Chrome - Chrome - AOL Search - Definition of the word "Browser" - Avant Browser - "What is browser? (sic)" from webopedia

Symbian : Wikipedia - Definition of the word "Browser" - Firefox - Google Image results - Chrome - Avant Browser - Crazy Browser - Zac Browser - Opera - Fox Splitter (Firefox addon) - chromium browser forum

Opera Mobile : Wikipedia - Wikipedia - Chrome - Firefox - Netscape Archive - Check Browser Compatibility, Cross Platform Browser Test (at browsershots.org) - Safari - "web browsers" from answers.com - UserAgentString.com List of Browser User Agent Strings - "What is browser? (sic)" from webopedia

So yes, Chrome does appear quite well, but is far from the first result, and generally appears behind Firefox. IE's absence is notable, whilst Opera and Safari appear perhaps a touch less or lower than expected, especially given Flock, Avast, Crazy and Netscape appear in the "top ten". However, I find it kind of hard to say that Google are "cheating" and promoting Chrome unfairly. If they were, why not put Chrome first, or at the very least above other browsers? Chrome has been gaining speed quickly over the past few months, but if searches for "browser" were the determining factor in this growth, why hasn't Firefox grown faster, and why are both Opera and Safari not seeing even vaguely similar growths despite being on the market for much longer?

There certainly is a part of truth in the idea that by giving their own services special looks and not their competition (Maps from maps.google.com are much more "inviting" than a link that says "Maps by mapquest"), but they -do- offer choice as to which one the user chooses. Windows still bundles IE, but has a splashscreen in europe that offers people "choice". Google integrate their other services' responses into their search feed, but don't automatically direct people to them (unless they specifically choose "I'm feeling lucky"). Is this enough? I think so.

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all for it

You can say your welcome to visit other search engines but google isn't just a search engine.

Google owns youtube, among other very popular sites and it creates an internet monopoly.

If Microsoft had to pay the piper for it's activity it's time for google to do the same.

Google is the default search engine in firefox isn't it? Wasn't the main problem with windows that internet exploder was the default web browser?

Not see'ing much of a difference here.

Time to slay the giant.

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WTF?

Yeah, so let me get this right. When you look for something on a Google service, it promotes a related Google service that may be of interest? And? Surely this is absolutely no different to all the crap the bank sends me about it's array of credit card options? Or the crap you see in supermarkets about "cool stuff you can do with a loyalty card"? It's not illegal, it's not even immoral. It's just advertising.

I used to use MapQuest. Then I moved to Google Maps. Why? Because Google maps was better. You can, with a bit of fiddling, get the map to fill more or less the whole screen (don't forget to press F11 to put the browser into "kiosk mode"). Google Maps also tries to work out where you want from partial addresses. There's streetview that is just awesome. And 3D streetview which is pretty useless but loads of fun. Oh, and Google Earth if you fancy seeing disc space and processor cycles consumed at an alarming rate.

Now let's turn to the video section. Firstly the chart states the bleeding obvious. At the outside, YouTube was higely popular, and it will have a snowball effect. Either that or everybody fancies NatalieTran. Whatever. I know of DailyMotion, but must say I rarely use it. I also knew of vids.myspace because I found some obscure fansub animé there (ironically, sent there by Google!). Would I be right in thinking msn.foxsports.com might perhaps cater for a niche market? And there's videos on photobucket? News to me. I'd say, perhaps, one of the problems with most of these services (justin.tv? ah, streaming broadcasts - not *quite* the same thing as YouTube, more a shoutcast-with-pictures) is brand awareness. World+Kitten knows about YouTube (mom knows*, mom hates on principle). World+Kitten knows about Google search (mom knows, mom uses). World+Kitten knows about Google maps (mom knows, isn't confident enough to use unaided). Everything else just needs to try harder, or aim for it's own comfortable niche.

There's plenty of 'little things' that make Google really friendly. This, in turn, is why it is my preferred search facility. Want to get the price of that thing on Rakuten? "4500 jpy in eur" (autosuggest gives you the answer). An American friend telling you it is mid-eighties and you have no idea what he's on about? "85f in c" (autosuggest gives you the answer). Want to translate that cookery book to your little electric oven? "gas mark 4 in c" (autosuggest has no answer, but the extract of the first result tells me 190C). And sometimes a typo can lead to some interesting results. The first autosuggest for "275 k" (Google.COM) was "275 * Boltzmann constant = 3.79678833 × 10-21 m2 kg s-2 K-1". Mmm, I bet that's a popular one. :-)

Bing, on the other hand, offers some nice background pictures...

.

* - My mother is a typical computerphobe, I so didn't inherit my geek genes from her. She does prove useful in software/system design thinking "would this pass the mom test?". She's not stupid, she can send SMS and such, it's just that oh-so-many things make a sort of sense to fellow geeks, but come across as ill-conceived gibberish to anybody else. I'll give you a great example of what I mean. The Neuros OSD digital video recorder allows you to copy recordings between devices (i.e. USB to SD, etc). You go to the file you want to copy and you "Copy" it. You go to where you want to copy the file to, and you then "Paste". The copy-paste makes sense to a geek, right? But to a non-geek they would probably give up at the "Copy" stage when apparently nothing happens... And, granted, none of this paragraph has anything to do with the topic at hand here, but one thing is for certain, if either myself or my mother wanted to look up something, we'd go to Google.

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Anonymous Coward

hmmm

This has been possibly the most useless, rambling, ill thought-out and frankly mis-informed post I have read on The Reg. Thank you.

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and your post

needs to have a little more detail, before anyone pays you any attention. For example, why is the post you refer to useless, rambling ill thought out and misinformed? Because you haven't said why - all you have done is stated your opinion without any backup facts.

Tell us, Please.

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@ AC

The only part of your reply I take exception to is "mis-informed". Which part would you like to correct me on? That YouTube was way more popular from the beginning and has been growing since? That YouTube is NOT the same as Justin.tv so a comparison between the two isn't fair (neither is the sports one)? That I was completely unaware that photobucket did videos (you could say there's something of a lack of a clue in the name...)? That Google search is way frendlier to use than the competition? That Google's autosuggest attempts to give immediate answers where it can while the Microsoft offering gives you a choice of pretty pictures? That Google Maps' options and facilities blew the competition out of the water?

Exactly which mis-informed point would you like to correct? Basic, bottom line, and no rambling, is that Google's offerings are BETTER. You may hate their business practice, their idea of privacy, and a billion other things, but the product DELIVERS. That's why it trounced AltaVista in weeks. That's why Bing is advertising hard on television. They're all the runners up, and nobody likes a winner that stays a winner for too long (I would make a comment about Lance Armstrong here, but that would be rambling, yes?) and so we see useless, rambling, ill thought-out and frankly mis-informed antitrust complaints appearing as news items...

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Anonymous Coward

mis-information

Misinformation: implying that autosuggest is somehow exclusive to google. Have you even tried bing before writing it off for false lack of autosuggest? go on, try "4500 jpy in eur" with bing too. What about Yahoo? Surprised? In fact Google was in no way first to implement this feature!

Rambling: spending a paragraph to define auto-suggest (with multiple examples) to a generally tech savvy readership.

Misinformation: Google maps blows the competition out of the water. Try reading around about Microsoft's efforts in the map world, they are generally very highly regarded. I'm not saying Google is bad, but Microsoft have been innovating in the sector for just as long as Google. Therefore the reason for Google's success can at least to some degree be attributed to Google itself using superior market presence to drive users to their service.

Misinformation: That competition to Google services such as Youtube just needs to "try harder". Many of Youtube's competitors have been running superior software, had higher quality video and perfectly friendly interfaces for most of the time Youtube has been in existence. Do you really think the success of Youtube was in no small way attributed to the massive traffic pushed its way by Google? Is this not a good example of an unfair advantage?

Misinformation:"little things" make Google more friendly. Sometimes true, sometimes untrue...definitely not specific enough.

Misinformation: Google promoting its own services is no different to bank/supermarket promotions/loyalty schemes. This avoids the fact that a huge number of companies rely on Google for their income, because they have no choice of competitors. When Google muscles into their territory it has a detrimental effect. Bank/supermarket self-promotions are not detrimental to the profits of their partners or customers, and if they were there is healthy competition to offer alternatives.

Misinformation: Geeks/non-geeks may be differentiated by the ability to copy and paste.

Now I'm rambling.

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regarding your DVR "copy" example

I found that interesting, because I was thinking to myself "yes, that makes sense" as I read about selecting "Copy" and still thinking "yes, yes, perfectly logical" as I read about the next step of pasting the file into it's destination.

Then I read how a non-geek would probably give up when nothing happened after selecting "Copy" and it was like a light bulb went on in my head. "Ohhh.... they'd expect "Copy" to go ahead and actually copy the file!"

Being too close to the technology really does blind you to how it appears from the outside, doesn't it?

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Dismisinformation (is that even a word!? :-) ) rambling

Autosuggest on Bing? Do you think I didn't try it in Bing before writing this? Which would you like, Firefox 3.5.3 under XP [with or without NoScript], Opera 10.52 under XP [no add-ons], or Firefox 3.5.3 under Ubuntu 10.04 [no plugins]? *NONE* of them do anything at all when I type "4500 jpy in eur". Mmm, maybe it only works with IE...?

I know quite well that Google is not alone with autosuggest. I use it frequently in Wikipedia. Try searching for "Firefly" in Wiki, you'll see why autosuggest is useful!

I rarely use Yahoo - back when I used to, its results were often polluted by the results of other search facilities, like dozens and dozens of automated "results" from the same site crapping up the search you're trying to do. You'll probably know what I mean if you used it circa 1996, I don't know if there's a term for it. It's probably much better *now*, but then, I mostly use Google *now*.

That said, I tried the "4500 jpy in eur" in Yahoo. I got the answer, I got "4,500.00 Japanese Yen = 40.88 Euros" but I HAD TO PRESS RETURN. (Bing didn't actually answer when I pressed Return, it asked if I really meant "4500 *joy* in eur"!).

The point I was making, however, was with Google it will actually provide the answer *IN* the autosuggest (they reckon 41.13; but they at least say they get the rates from Citibank, Yahoo doesn't specify its source).

Google maps vs Microsoft mapping. Just because a company "innovates" for as long, if not longer, than the other company does not mean the product is automatically better. If this were true, then Windows would surely be the best damned system around - yet oddly enough people are more and more using Linux for it is generally more reliable, more secure (how many web servers run Linux vs Windows?), and the update system makes all of Microsoft's efforts look rather pathetic. Perhaps Google's success is because the product really is "better"?

YouTube pushed by Google? I tried "cute kittens" in Google(.com) search and the results were YouTube, YouTube, and Metacafe. I looked at MetaCafe. Not a bad layout, but a bit Facebook heavy. No quality options though. Oh, I tried the same thing in Bing(.com), four of the eight results returned were YouTube. The others were MetaCafe/MySpace/MetaCafe/Dailymotion. I tried it in uk.yahoo.com and a highlighted box in the middle listed about twelve videos ALL OF WHICH were YouTube. So accusing Google of favourite its own service here is a little unfair.

Oh look, blatant advertising on MetaCafe... 50 Color business cards - $5.99 by a company that only ships to US/Canada spamming a guy in France with an IP address there. Jeez, Google's even better at advertising! [and I'd better quit using Opera and go back to Firefox where NoScript catches most of this stuff...]

You want me to list all the "little things" that make Google useful? Do we have time? :-) Perhaps, as Bing's autosuggest seems to work for you and you suggest innovation = quality, you just want to know what you're missing out on, outside of the wonderful world of Microsoft!

I will, however, point out a nice feature of Yahoo. Enter "68b54" and let it search. Then click on the search entry box, and a little thingy will appear saying "Explore concepts" listing related topics.

You suggest that companies relying upon Google for this income makes Google promoting its own services to clients. Firstly, if Google promotes its own map or video portal, this really only has relevance to a company running a map or video portal, and if a company was running a map or video portal and *relying* on Google for its income, then that's a pretty flawed business plan. If you mean for shopping results, you ought to read http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2010/06/04/bing_cashback_dead/ and not that not only was Bing basically bribing people to use their service, but that Google has a much fairer way of listing products. And, for what it is worth, do you really think there would be no impact to a company, say Heinz beans, if a supermarket like Sainbury's did a big promotion on their own-brand beans?

You seem to want accurate figures... I went and discussed the cut'n'paste point with 5 ex-pats of the elderly age bracket (ages not known, assume 60+), and by email with 4 cow-orkers (ages mid-20s to late 40s). That is nine people. Six of them said copy should have copied, it's the expected action. Three of them wanted to know why I'd want to copy something I've recorded. One thinks there has been nothing worth watching since they introduced Channel 4 (which was with Countdown on 2nd November 1982 at quarter to six in the evening - I know, I watched it... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDxlH5E5oC4 [notice, a YOUTUBE link, it's not on MetaCafe or DailyMotion... it is on YouTube] and OMFG loooook at Carol Vorderman! [in part 2]).

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Anonymous Coward

ok, here we go again

You seem to think I'm some kind of Microsoft aficionado - in fact I run chrome on my laptop & netbook and use google as much as bing - I just appear more willing to exploit the strengths from both services. Never been a fan of yahoo's search (though other services e.g. the finance section, are more mature and featured). I tended to use hotbot (little known search engine) before everybody went the way of the google.

Your setup is giving very odd results considering bing's autosuggest is pretty well-known to work just as well as google's...any interesting plugins you may not be aware of? Firstly, here is the url for the bing search...notice the currency conversion in large font at the top with links to further currency conversion options: http://www.bing.com/search?q=4500+jpy+in+eur&go=&form=QBLH&filt=all&qs=n&sk=

Google does not give the result within autosuggest from within any of the 4 PCs in my house using chrome or opera where available (1 xp, 2 win7, 1 win7 ubuntu dual boot).

Regarding the maps, I did say to do some reading around about general opinions of MS maps and not just assume I meant innovation=quality. For example, read up opinions on "bird's eye view" (around for a lot longer than streetview, which is of course very good itself). BEV often enables those that use it to see things they would miss if they only use overhead, allowing sight of vertical planes as well as horizontal from a number of angles. In fact perhaps you are the one missing out on things by constantly assuming google is just better?

I didn't quite have the will power to read through your extensive video search tests but I assume you basically say all search engines point to youtube as much or more than google (see that? done in 12 words!). However it again misses the point - youtube is far to ubiquitous now for any fair test...of course any search engine is going to give its results! The point is that early on in the days before unimpeachable dominance was achieved google changed its search parameters to *possibly* favour certain in-house services, which is the very thing the investigation is rightly trying to discover.

I don't understand your point about the anticompetitive behaviour - companies may or may not have relied upon google, but that doesn't make it right if google is exploiting its maket dominant position gained from a completely different type of service to muscle out the competition in this one. Whether it's relevant to 1 company or 100 companies or whether bing is or isn't using questionable tactics itself, it should be investigated! Perhaps your assumption that I follow all things Microsoft has led you to believe that if MS is also doing wrong I must accept google's actions? I thought the cashback was poor taste too and was glad it failed.

You do have a point with the supermarket, but there are a couple of important differences: Firstly supermarkets must still overcome brand loyalty and awareness whilst the tech sector is an emerging market that should have been given an even playing field for brand development to take place. Secondly, if brands get really pissed off with the supermarket they have the option of withdrawing their product, in which case other supermarkets would likely exploit this and promote them to the detriment of the first....you know.... as part of a healthy competitive market with a 4-5 way split.

RE. copy&paste: You did a survey? wow, am impressed. Now for your next reply please set up a double blind rct or your results will not be peer reviewed ;-)

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Photos to prove it! :-)

Bing search. Exactly following your URL. Note no currency options. http://img532.imageshack.us/i/bingsearch.png/

And now Google search. Note the instant results *in* the autosuggest. http://img541.imageshack.us/i/googlesearch.png/

Maybe there is some very very weird region-specific oddities. If you read my message carefully, you'll notice I run plug-ins on this Firefox, but nothing with Opera or the Ubuntu Firefox. In fact, Ubuntu was live-installed from an ISO image just hours previously. Result? Identical...

Favouring in-house services. I don't see a problem. NatWest is hardly going to punt a Barclaycard on the poster on the wall... However you look at it, Google has the resources and/or the balls to pull it off. Not just search, but everything. Well, not quite. I went to ImageShack for the piccies (thanks Google! ;-) ) because Google doesn't offer a free easy image stash. Maybe next year?!

I'm not sure the "emerging market" argument applies in the tech sector. Things move rapidly, and remember we're talking a market where one seemingly insignificant looking patent claim stands to ruin entire companies in the blink of an eye. You know, there was a day when everybody thought Google was nuts for trying to launch "yet another" search engine. But over the years Google certainly delivered. Don't think I'm a fanboy - their attitude to privacy is only trounced by that Facebook wally, and it is quite clear that their primary business model latched on to targetted advertising to sustain operations. They seem the Amazon of the search world. However, their end product as used by me, delivers. If anybody else thinks they can take on Google, they are welcome to try. If the product is better, a worthwhile number of people will defect and word of mouth will do the rest. Google will, of course, still be around, they are too entrenched now (YouTube, syndication, adverts, and all the Googlettes around that will find their place even if the search engine loses favour). After all, didn't we all AltaVista, Yahoo, and Lycos in those dark distant pre-Google days?

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There is apoint where unfair turns in to illegal.

Once a company gains enough control over a market to be considered to have a monopoly then it becomes illegal for them to be too unfair.

The question is whether Google has enough market dominance and to what extent it is unfairly leveraging it.

Personally I think most of Google's services are simply better than the competition, so they might as well level the playing field if only for PR reasons.

When you are a giant you have to take a little care to avoid stepping on too many toes.

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I agree completely

I'm ideologically opposed to much of what Google does, but I find that at their search, mail and maps are better than any other service and as a result I use them of my own free will. Conversely, I'm also all for an anti-competition probe and my gut feeling is that Google are probably legally at fault.

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Grenade

Consumer watchdog

When reading reports by Consumer Watchdog, please consider also this allegation: http://techrights.org/2009/05/04/consumer-watchdog-exposed/

"Summary: A look beneath the surface reveals that ConsumerWatchdog.org is “the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights”, which is affiliated with/derived from Grassroots Enterprise, a Washington/SF-based AstroTurfer for hire"

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FAIL

Google may be a data sucking pig, but they have the better free online services.

"The filing accused Google of illegally harming competitors in the online mapping and price comparison markets, hinting the practice was akin to Microsoft abusing its operating system monopoly in bundling applications with Windows."

<sarcasm>Yeah and the DOJ really gave Microsoft a kickin for that didn't they.</sarcasm>

As most here have said, google generally has the better product for search, maps, video, etc. They have mindshare and they have the branding. This isn't about Monopoly, there are other services and providers available and they can even be found by using Google.

I think there is a seperate agenda here and it is probably more to do with other previous, or wannabe monopolies than it is to do with current monopoly positions. It's all about fighting for position, but Google is proving to be a hell of a goliath to topple.

One thing that is for certain is that this is all about commercial interests and nothing to do with what's in the best interest of the consumer.

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Product Search vs. Shopzilla.

More than 20 million is "trailing" 21 million?

Not by bloody much then and if the trend on that graph continues, the boot'll be on the other foot when the figures for December 2k9 are out.

"Overtaking" might be a better term here.

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Actually it thieves.

[Yeah, so let me get this right. When you look for something on a Google service, it promotes a related Google service that may be of interest?]

They use their search engine to promote Maps by wrapping geodata feeds from flickr with links into Maps. The result being that someone's last 20 geotagged photos gets overlaid onto Maps. However they don't update the indexing often enough, there is a 6-8 weeks delay so any feed they may have wrapped with their link into Maps will be hopelessly out-of-date by the time any one clicks on it. The images and map location display will have nothing to do with the search.

What they are doing is a simple exploitation feeds to promote Google Maps. So they can slurp this into their maps.

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=http://www.flickr.com/services/feeds/geo/%3Fformat%3Dkml%26id%3D55228353%2540N00

http://uk.images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?p=google+images&b=21&ni=20

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but..

I have to agree with all the pro-Google comments. It's not purely because of Google pushing their own products - those products are, in most cases, better than the competitors. As has been mentioned, their mapping system is the best I have ever used; it's fast, it's accurate, it has many features, and it's been my first port of call whenever I need that kind of information. Anyone who asks me for advice on things, a lot of the time I send them to Google. In my experience, the service is much better than anything else I have seen and they will most likely be able to find the help they need, whether it be through one of Google's own products, or a third party site found via their search results.

As for "firefox has google as it's default homepage" being compared to Windows coming bundled with IE, those two things aren't really the same. You can change your homepage with a click of a button in firefox - how easy was it to remove IE from Windows?

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Paris Hilton

Surprise surprise

Google shills out in force as usual

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Stop

IE remains a forced purchase for cash

You are still forced to purchase IE.

That is illegal in the US and the EU. But, the authorities act as if they are paid by Microsoft to make sure that forced purchase remains in affect. And it does.

You have IE because you were illegally forced to buy it.

Period.

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Boffin

Debatable

Considering IE has always been available as a free download to anyone who wants it.

And in answer to the inevitable smart-arse response of "ooh yes, but who's paying for it?" - well that there is the other half of the reason why the point is debatable, but handily for me it also defeats the logic of Lewis Mettler's original implication of Google=free vs Microsoft=forced purchase, which is kinda what I set out to do.

Bottom line, someone somewhere is paying. I'm happy in Google's case for it to be the advertisers, but those costs get passed on to consumers so in the end we are all paying (just a tiny bit) for Google's supposed largesse. Don't be fooled.

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Anonymous Coward

Google is the way to go

1. Almost every single product of Google is better than their competitors'

2. Most of Google products are free

3. Google is one of the very few (if not the only) software giant that is still innovative despite their success

They have no case, instead of bitching with only argument products being successful, try and build products that are of any help to consumers and have at least any amount of innovation.

As long as Google stays on this track, it's the way to go.

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Get the point

Before I start, I'll say I'm a big Google fan, and use their services extensively, but.....

Monopolies/Anti-trust are not about total monopolies - only the situation where one company dominates the market to such an extent that they can distort it. Google's domination of search is a case in point

The fact that these services are free to the end user is not the point. They are paid for by advertisers who then have to add those costs into what they charge us for the product. You pay somewhere else.

I use product search quite often. Mostly because it's easy. Search for the product (e.g. i5-750 processor)- the google result is prominent and easy to get to. Other price comparison engines are harder to find, and you're less likely to click on them. Even if they find a better or more accurate price or offer better searching. So are you going to advertise on one of the other engines if nearly all your results come from Google? And once the competitive sites drop off because Google owns the market, are you surprised if Google decides to charge more? And you have to raise your prices to cover the cost. And we all end up paying.

Anti-trust/Monopolies Commissions are there to stop that happening. If your services are better - that's great. But if you are subsidising them by giving them a prominent space no other competitor gets (or cannot afford) then you are exploiting your monopoly and that's not fair competition.

I want good competition to Google so it keeps innovating and giving me stuff I want to use. I don't want it counting the cash and dumping engineers for marketing bods as so many "mature" tech companies have.

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@Tim54

Could not have put it better

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Are they a monopoly?

Yet? I mean, technically - what's the level of market share required to be legally declared a monopoly? Google are what, ~80% in the US, >90% in Europe and practically naff all in S.E. Asia?

Now - both Bing and Google provide video search and doing an utterly predictable search for "cute kitten" in each (video) search engine and not surprisingly youtube features heavily on the results pages for both.

Do the same search, on both Google and Bing on the "web" search and you actually get slightly more Google-service results (if you include blogspot, ne blogger) on MSN than you do on Google itself.

Be interesting to see how this pans out because it will determine if, legally speaking, Google are a monopoly and whether they unfairly spaff their own services into their results (as opposed to simply dominating enough of the "popular web" to mean that searching for anything is quite likely to turn up something Google related - however indirectly).

I can kind of see the point when it comes to Google Shopping mind - having that dropped right into the results means I rarely visit sites like Pricerunner any more. There shouldn't be a problem with hitting the "shopping" link at the top of the Google page to get your shopping results that way... but dropping them right into the natural search? Slightly more shaky ground there I feel.

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Flame

It makes me laugh

It truly does make me laugh.

When Microsoft were accused of bundling their own products illegally all of their pathetic employees, fanboys, trolls and shrills came out of the woodwork and proudly shouted "It's their product! They should be able to do what they like with it. If they want to include a FREE (*cough*) browser it is up to them".

Now, a Microsoft sponsored anti-trust accusation appears, followed by a report from a consumer watchdog which is subsidised by Microsoft, as far as I am aware, and suddenly these same people come out shouting that it is unfair that Google are pushing their own products!!

Excuse me fanboys but if Google can't do it then neither can Microsoft. Say goodbye to Windows Live, or whatever it is called nowadays! It may not be a monopoly but Microsoft is.

These people are pathetic. They are true hypocrits! I wish they would just all feck off back to Microsoftland, or whatever stone they came from under.

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Thank you

For your valuable input.

No, really. Cool story.

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Wow, where to begin...

...are you even aware of the basic circumstances surrounding the Microsoft antitrust? And I don't mean the IE one, I mean the "you can't offer Linux too" one. That and a dozen more practices that were not really beneficial to the market as a whole.

The difference here is pretty big. For a long time, if you wanted a new PC, you got a new PC with Windows. End of, unless you fancied building your own from the ground up. If you wanted a PC with Linux, netbsd, or anything else... you got a PC with Windows and you got rid of Windows and put on your chosen system.

Google, on the other hand, is a web site. Nobody is forcing you to Google. It comes as 'standard' on a number of browsers, but it is a few mouseclicks away to change to any other service you might prefer. But, as many here (myself included) have pointed out, Google IS the better option. If you would prefer to support the underdog and ditch Google for a second rate service, well, that's your problem.

Now close your eyes and imagine this reply with the words "Google" and "Microsoft" swapped around. You can't, can you? That's why Google fanboys (fanboies?) are not the same as Microsoft fanboys. The only link is the word "antitrust", and in this case even that seems to be somwhat dubious an accusation.

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WTF?

Would you jump off a bridge too

Just because everyone is doing it is a very poor argument for behavior. I'm not a M$ fanboy by any means. Neither company should do this, and when they do they both should get smacked, but the FTC, and other trade orgs and the general public at large.

Maybe M$ is calling attention here, but they don't fund the public offices that will be investigating this. To be clear, IF google IS leveraging their ad/search monopoly to enter and game other markets, they should be STOPPED plain and simple, same as ANY company should.

If it turns out they are clear (doubt it) we should still be careful. Someone said it here already: Google has great products, what is scary about this is the uber domination they seem to be pursuing, beating the competition isn't enough, they are going to skirt morals and legal boundaries to dominate, and that is not a good neighbor for anyone.

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Anonymous Coward

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer available free to all as a download.......

wait a minute......

Nope ....

I have to be running Windows to download the latest version of Internet Explorer...

I can download and install IE 6 though.

Hang on.... I discovered the reason it isn't available for download and installation through WINE.

So the person earlier saying it was free to download needs slightly more qualifying of the statement

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