back to article MP: Googlepoly hurts British business

The UK is heading for a "bleakly uniform world of Google everything" unless the company is constrained, Parliament heard yesterday in a special debate on the power of search engines. Government should protect and foster competition in e-commerce argued Labour MP for Hyndburn, said Graham Jones, who called the debate. "British …

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FAIL

WTF is he talking about?

Traffic to middle man sites has reduced? So? Why should the English go to price comparison sites when so many of them are just resellers or thin affiliates anyway?

Multi-Map? No offence to many people who are anti Google, but if they ever had any competition then things may be different.

What this Guy is saying is that we should be using inferior applications that charge rather than a free service with better quality results.

The reason Google has managed to stay top of their tree is that they actually give people what they want, they listen to their customers and actually enter into communication with them as well.

If this idiot really knew what he was talking about he would look at the state of UK Tech company's and see how they treat their current customer base and sort that mess out.

I'm talking about our ISP's and hosting companys, the real things holding the UK web based industry back.

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No, what he is saying is...

The government is not making any money from it. Thats the entire crux of the matter.

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The plural of company is companies

One also notices many UK sites with internal search engines or site maps that are so poor that you can find things on those sites faster by using Google. In the case of Transport for London, I didn't even have to use the site-specific syntax to find what I needed.

That said, I don't agree with everything you wrote (spelling issues aside) - Google don't do a good job of listening to their customers. They're still a company with a highly US-centric view of the world, and they have no real organised way of capturing customer feedback. Spend some time posting bugs on their forums, and you'll realise that the forum has been created and abandoned years before.

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Why is it free?

"What this Guy is saying is that we should be using inferior applications that charge rather than a free service with better quality results."

The question you should ask yourself is "Why is it free?" It's free because Google is a gigantic corporation that can use its profits from one part of the business (adverts) to subsidize others (all other parts). Other companies that aren't global mega-corps cannot do this, so they will have to charge.

Of course, if you want there to only be one company on the Internet -- Google -- then this is fine.

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Anonymous Coward

There is nothing 'Free' about Google services

They are paid for by advertising. That they may not charge directly does not, by any stretch, make them free!

Google have done a Microsoft in that they 'embrace, extend and exclude/extinguish' competition.

Without doubt they have innovated and improved but at the expense of variety. Monoculture is sometimes helpful but it makes it difficult to compete with - think Rhododendrons or Japanese Knot weed.

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WTF?

Do you really understand how a monopoly works?

Geez! One would think that those commentards who were in diapers in the '90s would have been taught about monopolies and their dangers in their grade school courses. Those who are older should have been paying attention.

The fact that Google can take their monopoly in one market, use that cash to invest in to a new market such that they can obliterate the competition. Google can invest 100s of millions of dollars in to entering a new market at a loss. Companies that are in that space can not compete.

Definitely a fail on your google loving ass. Now put down the keyboard and go back to school.

Google says 'do no evil' but then again they also say they get to determine what is evil and by their definition, anything google does isn't evil.

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Anonymous Coward

Why do google ads make money

"Why is it free?" It's free because Google is a gigantic corporation that can use its profits from one part of the business (adverts) to subsidize others (all other parts). "

Why was google able to make a lot of money on ads: because they had great search and thus a great place to show ads.

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Alert

Re: Ian

You must have listened closely to your grade school understanding of monopolies and markets - maybe you should have kept up at it because it's really a gross oversimplification. The problem with your interpretation of things, IMO, is that you are being completely arbitrary with your definition of market - specifically the search market.

While I sympathize and do not disagree that there is plenty of room for interpretation, the situation is not as black and white as you state it - unless of course you have a chip on your shoulder about Google for other reasons (like privacy) which I can also sympathize with.

At the end of the day the issue here is what defines the "web search" market - is it a no-holds-barred competition to provide users with what they're looking for or, if not, where you think they can find it (which, for the record, is not only how Google behaves but Bing as well and I'd be surprised if the Chinese search giant - whatever their name is - is any different in that regard)...

...*OR* is it the definition espoused in the article by Mr. Jones, which you *seem* to agree with, that: "search engines should have no editorial policies other than that their results be comprehensive, impartial and based solely on relevance." (Apparently relevance being some definition other than whatever Google says it is).

We can disagree without being disagreeable, methinks

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Don't forget

That in Europe they also have the advantage of the Irish tax loophole to pay precious little tax to anyone.

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Google Wins Because It Has the Best Products

With Google Maps I can plan a route with waypoints (including pubs, ferries, museums) on google and on my PC and then use it when I walk round the city on my phone (iPhone excepted, obviously). I can send the route to friends as a browser friendly map, with a commentary on the route (handy for cultured pub crawls). Try doing that on multimap. The google map app on my iPhone has bus timetables in it and is more easy to use than the local bus company's website - can't do that with streetmap. They need to stop whingeing and innovate.

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Stop

Absolutely.

Google shouldn't be penalized by making the best products.. Other companies need to try harder.

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Anonymous Coward

Google wins because it has the most money

Multimap and Streetmap could innovate all they want (and in Multimap's defence, they did in the past), but if they can't get eyeballs they may as well be pissing in the wind, and since most eyeballs come via Google, and Google integrates its own map products first, its not difficult to see where this goes for Multimap. It is NOT true that Google has the Best Products - at least when they're launched. At the start, Google Maps was inferior to Multimap, but it got the eyeballs anyway thanks to its promotion from Google itself, which strangled competition and allowed them to develop the product further. Its no great mystery that Google products tend to fail only when there's a rival with massive penetration in the market already (e.g. Facebook saw off Buzz).

It never ceases to amaze me about the level of naivete people have in relation to Google. Any new online business will pretty much stand or fall based on its relationship with Google, to the extent that if you don't design it to be "Google friendly" you may as well pack up and go home. Its simply not healthy for one company to have that much power.

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Boffin

@AC Spot On!

But don't let the mindless commentards get you down when they down thumb you.

Its kind of ironic that these are the same people who want transparency from the government yet don't expect it from a company that makes money off their willingness to give their privacy up for just a few quid a month in 'free' products.

TANSTAAFL!

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I'm sorry...

... but just NO - Multimap was shite - it was always shite. Google maps blew everything else out of the water when it came along and (perhaps most importantly) was much, much faster.

It could be argued that many improvements made by Multimap wouldn't have happened if Google Maps hadn't come along - even Bing Maps is something of a Google Maps copy (actually, Bing Maps isn't as awful as you might expect).

----

> Any new online business will pretty much stand or fall based on its

> relationship with Google

Maybe - unless the business is in China perhaps where Google isn't dominant.

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> to the extent that if you don't design it to be "Google friendly" you

> may as well pack up and go home.

Not really - Search Engine robots, including Googlebot, pretty much read web pages in the same way that screen readers like Jaws do - a well designed website written/coded with the WAI in mind will, by default, be Google friendly. Any modern website should be written in this manner anyway.

Since Google are famously reticent about letting people know exactly how the PageRank algorithm actually works making a site specifically "Google friendly" is something of a nonsense the best you can do is follow best practices and standard SEO techniques and hope for the best - go too far in trying to game Google and they will remove you from their index (ask BMW).

I'm not saying that Google ISN'T becoming the next Microsoft, I'm not saying that they don't abuse their (virtual) monopoly in search and I'm not saying their "do no evil" mantra is complete BS (privacy, what privacy?) - BUT credit where it's due, they do knock out some useful or innovative apps.

Google maps was (IIRC) the first AJaX-ified mapping program - you didn't have to reload the entire page to scroll the map - a winning feature by itself.

Compare Google Analytics to Webalizer which was the bog-standard tool installed before Google Analytics came along - and without Google Analytics we'd not now have Piwik.

Google Earth, Gmail, Translator and so on and so forth - most things Google do are either innovative or better than the competition in some way - that's how they got to be where they are, Google Search was a revelation when it came out; no crappy, slow-loading portal page just a search box and a logo and relevant results.

It might not be healthy for one company to "hold so much power" as you put it but remember, when they started it was just a couple of lads, in a garage, who knocked up something better than all the big boys on the web at that time could manage; there's nothing to say that the same thing can't happen to Google if they rest on their laurels.

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@I'm sorry

"Not really - Search Engine robots, including Googlebot, pretty much read web pages in the same way that screen readers like Jaws do - a well designed website written/coded with the WAI in mind will, by default, be Google friendly. Any modern website should be written in this manner anyway."

That's fine for SEO, but that's only half the story. Ask any e-commerce company in the US or UK how much of their online marketing budget and effort they have to dedicate to SEO AND PPC (clue, for most people these days its north of 60%). Now there is a perfectly reasonable argument to say other providers should pull their finger out and offer a better service, and that's fine, but they haven't and Google is now like a black hole; it has a kind of gravitational pull that means it can't be avoided if you want to sell anything online. And even that would be fine, if all Google was doing was selling ad space as a search engine. But when it can control the ad market in whole categories of service where it offers competitive services of its own, that's just dangerous and wrong.

Its very difficult to make this kind of argument on The Reg because the audience is typically of the "I'm not influenced by ads" type (usually inordinately proud of all the steps they take to block ads), but the reality is most people ARE influenced by ads (otherwise Google wouldn't be so powerful), so if you control 60%+ of the ad market, it doesn't really matter if your products are good, bad or indifferent, that gives you an edge that no competitor, even if they had a technically better product, can match. This is why Google are under investigation by the EU, and why there should definitely be a debate to about whether Google's core search business should be separated from its other services.

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Coat

Nerd alert!

One network to rule us all, one network to find us, one network to bring us all and in the darkness bind us...

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@Whitter

At least Google allow you to find light-bulbs on their search engine,

Microsoft just make darkness the industry standard when their engineers are asked to change the light bulb

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Simple solution

OK, Mr Graham Jones, get you back to Hyndburn and poke your feckless constituents with a stick until one of them starts a world-class technology based on a seriously good education and an understanding of how to do things in a way that no-one has tried before.

Before anyone asks how I know they are feckless, they voted Labour at the last election. Not all of them, of course, but probably not all of them are feckless.

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Linux

Parliament Baulking at the thought of software monopolies!

Considering that parliament currently use "Microsoft-Everything", this debate is hypocritical.

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Happy

The careful observer will notice

...no mention of Bing mimicking every damn move they are criticizing Google for.

I've never understood the love for Microsoft to be honest, but in the corporate and government circles it is palpable.

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WTF?

The even more careful observer will note

the number of ex-Microsoft search and language-analysis people who crossed over to Google in recent years.

You also don't mention the stuff that Bing doesn't do the same as Google.

Feel free to step in and innovate yourself.

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Anonymous Coward

I wonder what search engine he used when researching this.

Given the weakness of his claims, it probably wasn't google.

Look at his quotes about 'Google this, google that; swap it with Tesco's and see if he whines.

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Oh wow... haha

Replace Tesco with Wal Mart for all the US folks and... wow :)

Never thought of it like that before but interesting analogy. Why buy X-brand when Google-brand is cheaper/quicker/whatever - and just like Tesco's (Wal Mart) they only sell their brand in their site (think store).

That's a bit of a jaw dropper to look at it from that view.

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The lessons of Standard Oil

We know what happens when one company becomes dominant. It starts off well then discovers how easily it can abu^H^H^Htake advantage of its commercial might, but it ends in tears.

BTW, if you're not aware of the story, you can errr.... Google for it.

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Invent rather than innovate?

We don't ask car manufacturers to reinvent the wheel every-time they design a new car do we?

The fact that many of the technologies that google have acquired would probably be floundering now in obscurity if they were still in the hands of their originators doesn't seem to factor.

Also Multimaps (and others) was god awful to use. Google maps is a pleasure.

While I like to maintain a healthy air of suspicion and scepticism when it comes to Google, I can't fault many of their products or services.

If they do turn overwhelmingly evil then I am confident that another search engine will take its place and the whole thing will start again.

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I agree to a degree...

I agree that Google's steady over-presence is becoming stifling on other businesses and degrading and destroying opportunities for others, alongside innovation - the same way that I saw Microsoft do it decades ago. Look what happened to Microsoft, and I find that I believe Google needs far more locking down as they aren't just a vast presence trying to be the biggest and control a market - they actively seek to break into your homes (through your PC - of course I don't mean burglary - grow up!), your data, your networks and collect and collate anything they possibly can about you, whether you like it or not.

I don't agree with the price comparison stuff - they're falling apart because many products are available that aren't available on comparison sites. Couple that with the fact that price comparison sites have all become obsessed with f-tarded adverts that just drive people away (I can think of 3 I'll NEVER use straight out) and they're in trouble.

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FAIL

Google Maps decimated Multimap? I think you'll find BING did that

"Google Maps decimated traffic to Multimap and Streetmap." No it didn't, BING did that by turning multimap it to a pile of rubbish, maps not loading, etc, I was FORCED to switch is BINGing multimap made the site stop working!!

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FAIL

and contiue to do so

Although bing still has 'move the red circle' I've no idea why. In Multimap you could use it to display the co-ordinates of a point in Lat/Long, eastings/Northngs, and OS grid reference. M$ have removed that.

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WTF?

Timing issue

Multimap was a pile of rubbish years before Bing existed.

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Cobblers

I use google search because it gets the right results for me. If it didn't, I wouldn't.

I use google maps because it is free and miles ahead of the competition. When I first came across google maps, with its zoomable, draggable map, I was still using streetmap.co.uk, with its antiquated grid squares. Google maps blows it out the water.

I use gmail because it was so much better than any other web-mail provider. More space, better interfaces, better reliability, more control.

The theme here is that google services are just pain better. That is why I let them throw their adverts at me, not because I know no better.

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Happy

Double standards....

... haven't seen the politicos kick up the same fuss about Tesco, Asda etc. affecting the smaller shops...

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WTF?

ranking of google in 3rd party (possibly non-consensual) data traffic

Google-analytics is the leading player (top hidden 3rd party node) present in around 90% of world websites, taking at least half of the tracking business, but they're not a monopoly - being chased by Microsoft running aquantive (atdmt.com) and Adobe running Omniture, Yahoo! is possibly in fourth place.

(research by AT&T) It's a giga-pound business!

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And the point is...

No point to make particularly, am just wallowing in the luxury of being able to respond to an Orlowski article!

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FAIL

Just more anti Google disinformation

http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/wtf_32.png How on earth is Google a monopoly?! Are the any alternatives to a Google search? Yes hundreds, if not thousands = Not a monopoly

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FAIL

That's not how monopolies are defined

Monopoly in the real world does not mean, "the sole provider of a good or service."

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Is you a moron?

No offence or anything, but the definition of a monopoly is not that it is the only company in a buisness, just as the definition of a television isn't something that allows you to see far. It's when a company has sufficient size to be able to distort the size. E.g., BA was considered a monopoly a few years back, as was Microsoft.

In other words, shut up and leave the commenting to people who actually have enough sense to read a dictionary first.

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Anonymous Coward

Haven't seen the politicos kick up the same fuss about Tesco...

... but many consumer organisations do. Opposition to Tesco in many parts of the country seems fuelled by a hate-filled myth. Except where I live, where the complaint is that our branch *isn't big enough* and yes, they plan to expand it *in response to customer demand* (my emphasis).

Google, like Tesco, can and should be treated with suspicion because they are in it to make money. That apart, they prosper because they give the user what the user wants. I am a loyal Tesco customer for the same reason as I am a loyal Google customer. It means I go to them first because I know they likely have what I want. I don't care about them as anything but a source of things any more than they care about me as anything but a source of profit.

"The competition needs to try harder." <-- this.

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Years ago...

...everything was IBM and they were the law. Then they got two big for their boots and a little whipper-snapper called Microsoft toppled them.

Microsoft became law and got so egotistical they thought they could tell the world to not use the Internet (well, almost). They have not yet fallen, but they are looking shaky; certainly Google has them bitch-slapped seven shades of sideways on t'internet with Apple drubbing them on phone/PMP/tablets.

But Google (and Facebook, eBay...) too shall fail and die, this is the nature of things. If the Government wants to get a slice of the pie, then they need to stop funding wasteful crap like the Commonwealth and Olympic Games and start funding things that make a difference (big science, education etc).

Hell, if we had a manufacturing industry left we could make money out of Google. But no, our entire economy is based around funding the bonuses for w...err...bankers.

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WTF?

I think the problem with this story is the content

Yes monopoly's are as bad as my spelling, yes we know they are an inherent danger to innovation and all the rest of it.

But, unlike M$, Google give us good products.

The news story was about Google holding back UK industry. This is not true, UK industry is holding themselves back by being total crap.

Maybe he should have used a different target, or not pointed to people trying to jump on the search engine bandwagon.

Google search is fine and funded by willing advertisers, so no big nasty corporation slapping the little man down there.

one final point, no-one is forced to use Google, in fact Bing is the search engine most installed as the default search engine. So if the average IT illiterate UK consumer can learn to use Google, then they can learn to use the UK search engines (if they are any good)

M$ actively stopped people competing and held on to their monopoly by placing barriers to entry to the market place by not allowing people full access to Windows code etc. I fail to see how Google are doing this.

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Anonymous Coward

So why

did this tax dodging monopoly get chosen along with another monopoly as one of the suppliers of GBBO?

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Anonymous Coward

Ma Google.

Google are rapidly becoming the equivalent of a monopoly.

And like the big American monopolists, what they do they do very well but they can only provide a certain level of innovation.

If they buy up the biggest provider of any new tech to arrive and then suppress the rest, we end up with a slow down in innovation. We lose out.

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