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back to article EU gives Google till July to offer fix for search dominance

The EU's antitrust head honcho has said that Google has until early July to tell him how it's going to change itself enough to sort out its dominant position in the marketplace. Google has repeatedly made out that it doesn't know what the EU's antitrust division is going on about, but is of course open to conversations with …

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Anonymous Coward

Really couldn't care less

The reason they're in a dominant position is because they offer the best service. It's not like there aren't others out there, and its not like Google is pulling a microsoft by having itself put as the dominant search engiine on every browser.

You don't get toolbars that change your search to google with every file you install, you don't have adverts on TV telling you to use google because its better than everything else.

They just have a better service plain and simple. I mean I can understand antitrust suits when it comes to companies who are giving people giant wods of cash to block others out of the market, but google aren't doing that.

I'd rather see them use anti-trust suits against companies that actually are causing harm like british gas, or BT for owning the entire infrastructure.

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Re: Really couldn't care less

I agree mostly, but both Opera and Firefox are paid large amounts of money to provide google search as a default search engine, making IE the only major browser to not have google as default search engine.

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Re: Really couldn't care less

Quote: "its not like Google is pulling a microsoft by having itself put as the dominant search engiine on every browser"

A: Isn't it???? When did you last see a "use Chrome" ad on Googles search page?

Quote: "You don't get toolbars that change your search to google with every file you install, you don't have adverts on TV telling you to use google because its better than everything else."

A: You have obviosly never installed any free / shareware software recently. Almost every one has a "Install Chrome" 'offer'. As for seeing Googel on TV you've obviously never been in Londons underground system.

Quote: "I mean I can understand antitrust suits when it comes to companies who are giving people giant wods of cash to block others out of the market, but google aren't doing that."

A: See my comment above.

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FAIL

Re: Really couldn't care less

This is about more than just search.

If all Google did was provide search results, then there'd be no case to answer - they would simply be the biggest search engine by being the most preferred. But they have done deals which put them as the default search provider on some platforms (like anything from Apple).

But Google doesn't just do search, they sell all sorts of stuff around it. That's where it gets more "interesting".

Take maps for example. At one time, there were a number of outfits offering mapping services online. Then Google entered the market.

Google clearly uses it's massive reserves and income from other areas (most notably search) in order to pay for it's maps service - which it gave away free. You can argue that maps succeeded because it was better - but it's hard to argue that it wasn't more popular by virtue of being free. While it's not wrong to do well by being batter, it is most definitely wrong to "capture" a market by selling at such a low price that it's impossible for someone else to compete - and that is what Google appear to have done.

Lets look at the key points :

Google have oodles of cash from being dominant in search. They enter another market (eg maps). That will have cost lots of cash, but it's been cross subsidised by their other business. They give maps away online for free - thus killing competition, if you are in business doing maps but don't have an alternative cash cow then you can't compete with free. Then they start charging - some functions were free but are now paid for.

In addition, it's been alleged that when Google starts a new service, they promote it through their search results. Thus anyone searching for maps, wouldn't get "A N Other mapping service" with Google Maps way down the list because it's new and doesn't have any ranking - they get Google Maps right at the top of the list while everyone else is pushed down.

That is exactly what IBM did in years gone past, and what Standard Oil did before them, and what Microsoft did to Netscape with Internet Exploder. In the US it's covered by Anti-Trust laws, in the EU it's called something else but it's still not allowed.

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FAIL

Re: Really couldn't care less

Indeed, Google is the best search engine for one single reason, ,PAGERANK patent. All other search engines suck because they can't use this.

Will the EU force Google to give up this patent? Surely Larry Page was smart enough to come up with this, then it's win for Google.

As as consumer, I just want to use the best which is why I use Google. Will they make google crap to level the field

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Re: Really couldn't care less

The complaint isn't that they are pushing their search on everyone but that they're using their dominance in search to give them an advantage elsewhere which is arguably true. They do use their site to push chrome on at least IE users, there used to be plenty of software offering the google toolbar, now it's chrome which of course defaults to google search.

Though arguably that's minor stuff. What annoys me is tying in google+ to their google accounts so you basically have to use it if you need a google account and pushing, imo, worthless G+ postings into search.

And yes if you do search for things google offers, like maps they feature their product promently and those products are tied into search (ie map results right in the results. I'd argue their maps are the best or atleast the most popular as are many of their other products so maybe they should be higher in the results but if ms got in trouble for tying products together then maybe maps for example should not be tied into the search results.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really couldn't care less

"[Google isn't] the dominant search [engine] on every browser."

Chrome, FireFox, Safari, and Opera all have Google as the default search engine. Only IE defaults to something else.

"[Google doesn't run] adverts on TV telling you to use google because its better than everything else"

Only it does...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTjHCCU2E4c

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnsSUqgkDwU

and so forth...

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Re: Really couldn't care less

One point here...

All your answers would be valued if the complaint from the EU had fuck all to do with browsers. It doesn't. It has to do with search engine sites.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: browsers

"All your answers would be valued if the complaint from the EU had fuck all to do with browsers. It doesn't. It has to do with search engine sites."

Generally, one uses a _browser_ to reach the search engine...

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Anonymous Coward

Because some people are too fucking stupid and lazy

Here's the EU's statement - but don't feel as if you have to read it, and don't feel as though you actually need to know anything about the matter that you are commenting on, and don't feel that you need to be anything other than the ignoramus that you already are :

"Almunia outlined what aspects of Mountain View's biz might be characterised as 'abuses of dominance'.

First, in its general search results on the web, Google displays links to its own vertical search services. Vertical search services are specialised search engines which focus on specific topics – for example restaurants, news or products.

Alongside its general search service, Google also operates several vertical search services of this kind in competition with other players.

In its general search results, Google displays links to its own vertical search services differently than it does for links to competitors. We are concerned that this may result in preferential treatment compared to those of competing services, which may be hurt as a consequence.

Our second concern relates to the way Google copies content from competing vertical search services and uses it in its own offerings. Google may be copying original material from the websites of its competitors such as user reviews and using that material on its own sites without their prior authorisation.

In this way they are appropriating the benefits of the investments of competitors. We are worried that this could reduce competitors' incentives to invest in the creation of original content for the benefit of internet users. This practice may impact for instance travel sites or sites providing restaurant guides.

Our third concern relates to agreements between Google and partners on the websites of which Google delivers search advertisements. Search advertisements are advertisements that are displayed alongside search results when a user types a query in a website's search box.

The agreements result in de facto exclusivity requiring them to obtain all or most of their requirements of search advertisements from Google, thus shutting out competing providers of search advertising intermediation services. This potentially impacts advertising services purchased for example by online stores, online magazines or broadcasters.

Our fourth concern relates to restrictions that Google puts to the portability of online search advertising campaigns from its platform AdWords to the platforms of competitors. AdWords is Google's auction-based advertising platform on which advertisers can bid for the placement of search ads on search result pages provided by Google.

We are concerned that Google imposes contractual restrictions on software developers which prevent them from offering tools that allow the seamless transfer of search advertising campaigns across AdWords and other platforms for search advertising."

(from http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/21/joaquin_almunia_google_statement/ )

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Childcatcher

Re: Really couldn't care less

Google has been reading 16th Century history.

Cuius regio, eius religio. A way of saying Fanbois will be Fanbois, except the regio they're after extends from midway between your ears to the known world and whatever some heretic might discover (by mistake) out of sheer spite for our Overlords . The Afterlife remains all yours. The Pope has had the same 0% Interest offer for years.

The best the EU could do is to warn Google that some of their members can get a little peevish when you hurt their children and no, a letter of introduction will not be forthcoming.

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Re: Really couldn't care less

Opera has Bing as default, which is pure shit. Thankfully its trivial to change it to whatever you want.

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Holmes

Re: Really couldn't care less

So how is this any different from Microsoft using their dominance in windows to push Their other shit and failing products? I (xbox, zune, bing, windows phone)?

Answer : its no different.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really couldn't care less

Close but no cigar.

They are not getting nailed as a result of having grown naturally to a monopoly status because they are the best.

They are getting nailed because they are actively leveraging their monopoly in search to facilitate them entering new markets. They are also distorting markets by offering at zero (or sub-cost) products which serve as a 50-mile scorched earth zone defending their search offering.

That is against a whole raft of monopoly laws on both sides of the ocean and some remedies and covenants on their business practice are long overdue.

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wim

Re: Really couldn't care less

Here in Japan google launched a big media offense with TV adverts.

I don't watch a lot of TV so I can not say how many times a day the adverts are shown but I have seen it a few times at friends places. They could not really figure out what the meaning of the adverts was (they are Japanese so they would not have a problem understanding the language). I just noticed that they showed google being used for searching stuff on the net.

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Facepalm

Re: Really couldn't care less

Quote: "Isn't it???? When did you last see a "use Chrome" ad on Googles search page?"

Ads are not monopolistic behaviour. It's Google's homepage, they've got the right to put whatever they want on it. Microsoft doesn't have ads for OpenOffice on their website, Oracle doesn't have ads for SAP products on their website.

Quote: You have obviosly never installed any free / shareware software recently. Almost every one has a "Install Chrome" 'offer'.

This would actually be a valid point if it weren't for the fact that the overwhelmingly dominant desktop OS on the planet comes with IE installed by default. Sure, in recent times they have a browser ballot. Well, guess what. There's a search engine ballot too - they call it the URL bar.

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Facepalm

"The EU's antitrust head honcho has said that Google has until early July to tell him how it's going to change itself enough to sort out its dominant position in the marketplace."

An easy strategy - just be like Yahoo! and Microsoft Bing.

Whether or not Google would be advised to do this is another question.

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Trollface

Fail miserably?

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Me neither

The EU seems to have a problem with simple success through being smart (i.e. a long way from what Microsoft was getting away with when it established the dominance of Windows and IE). Google don't force me to use their search engine. I could to to Bing or Yahoo or Wolfram but why should I when Google usually does the job? Post above upvoted for good measure.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Me neither

"The EU seems to have a problem with simple success through being smart (i.e. a long way from what Microsoft was getting away with when it established the dominance of Windows and IE). Google don't force me to use their search engine. I could to to Bing or Yahoo or Wolfram but why should I when Google usually does the job? Post above upvoted for good measure."

Nicely put except that it has nothing to do with the matter at hand. The EU complaint is about Google abusing its dominant market position.

But then again, most of the commenters here didn't bother to read the links either.

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Re: Me neither

And exactly how does Google abuse it's dominant position?

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Facepalm

Re: Me neither

Hmmm you did see the bit where anon wrote "But then again, most of the commenters here didn't bother to read the links either."?

The clue is there...

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Re: Me neither

I did, and then I did some tests on Google's search engine. The tests failed to change my mind.

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Re: Me neither

Try this:

Type "map of Ireland" into Google. What is the top result?

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Re: Me neither

DicoverIreland.com when I tried, followed by the Google map. My own testing was based on searching for various office type apps and while Google was always there, it wasn't usually at the top.

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Bronze badge

Re: Me neither

Discover Ireland is a paid Ad - this is talking about the search results.

Try: Video of Ireland:

First links from Google News

Next link YouTube

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Re: Me neither

1. Mirror.co.uk

2. Ahram online

3. IrishCentral

4. Lot's of YouTube videos too.

Since Youtube is the largest video sharing in the world (presumably because the public are forced to use it with a gun to their head), I'll file that under "No Shit Sherlock".

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Facepalm

Re: Me neither

1. Mirror.co.uk

2. Ahram online

3. IrishCentral

Are all fed from Google News - not direct organic searches of their website.

Whether You Tube is the largest video sharing site in the world and deserves to get top billing, or Google Maps or Google News is what the case is about. I'm not saying they shouldn't or they should. This is why there is an investigation. No-one has been found guilty of anything yet.

If, for instance Google can prove that the Maps, News and You Tube teams have no access to the search engine's secret algorithm to affect SEO and that the fact they are top results in Google hasn't unduly affected their pagerank in the past then they would walk away scott free. If their results are planted at the top and any competitive services are buried simply due to them being a competitor then they will walk away with fines and sanctions.

However, it is most likely to be somewhere in the middle and that's what the investigation will look at.

The overall point was - read the claims of the EU to see what they are investigating, try out some tests to see if Google stuff tends to appear top and consider whether that could be cause for concern - the Ireland examples weren't a result of trying 100 different searches to prove the point they were both the first thing that popped into my head.

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Anonymous Coward

Remedy proposals...

"We don't like that you are the best at what you do, that you are making money, and that you are bloody Yanks so you aren't under our thumbs and paying taxes to us.

Now, we want you to tell us how you will remedy this situation. I'm sure you can image some remedies that might make things better. By the way, are you planning on picking up the lunch tab? - I hear you Americans 'tip' pretty well, ifyouknowwhatimean.

Well, we have to make a quick run to the WC - oh look, we dropped this empty plain white envelope on the table. Oh well, we'll just pick it up when we get back from the WC. Hopefully, it won't blow away - maybe you guys can find something to weigh it down with?

After all, it's such a nice business you have here - it would be a shame if something were to happen to it."

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Anonymous Coward

yup - lets kick the business down for being too good with it's current business model.

What a load of old balls!

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Joke

Can they also ask France what they are going to do about their Champagne Dominance?

Clearly unfair to the other countries wanting to get in on Sparkling wine.

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Silver badge

Re: Can they also ask France what they are going to do about their Champagne Dominance?

Personally I think you're doing the word "wine" a disservice by associating it with "Champagne".

Godawful stuff that gets slurped at weddings due to tradition and very few places elsewhere.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can they also ask France what they are going to do about their Champagne Dominance?

Champagne has been a name of a wine region in France since the Middle Ages!

How would you like if someone started writing things using your name?

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Pint

Re: Can they also ask France what they are going to do about their Champagne Dominance?

Only plebs and gangsters drink champagne.

Try some camel valley brut - bloody good english wine.

But better still drink real ale - why should you have to drink wine to celebrate!

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Pint

Re: Can they also ask France what they are going to do about their Champagne Dominance?

With this year's series of Lord Sugar's Apprentice, England got two strong new brands to change that: Grandeur and "English Wine Sparkling" :-)

(Beer, because even those brands aren't strong enough to compete with the most popular drink.)

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Holmes

You are guilty, please convict yourself

We've decided that you are guilty but we don't actually know what you've done that is wrong.

So we've decided to make you tell us what it is that you're doing wrong.

And if you refuse to tell us then that obviously proves that you are guilty

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting

I like how they are apparently unable to give clear indications as to what they think Google is doing wrong, or what Google could do to fix the problem. But if Google does not fix whatever it is, there will be hell to pay, and much £££, oh yes.

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Facepalm

Re: Interesting

The linked Reg article says: [The EU's competition commissioner Joaquin] Almunia outlined what aspects of Mountain View's biz might be characterised as "abuses of dominance".

I'll let you read the long list for yourself.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Interesting

If the list gave even *one* specific example, it would be easier to take seriously (or dismiss as not worth taking seriously.)

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WTF?

I'm curious.

What exactly are Google doing wrong, apart from actually being the best search engine at the moment?

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Re: I'm curious.

I think you just hit the nail on the head.

Now if they'd have made it so that you had to use Google in order to use the Internet, and that changing search providers would mean having to re-learn everything you know about computers.. If they'd have strong-armed entire industries into helping them to lock billions of people into paying a tax to them.. If they did their damndest to try to ruin any kind of innovation they can find via spurious patent allegations and downright illegal threats.. then it'd have taken decades for the EU to finally turn around and demand that they very nicely please put a little notification saying "hey, Yahoo exists, don't you know" on their web page the first time you ever load it.. if they don't mind terribly. Thanks.

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Re: I'm curious.

Allegedly fiddling search results and pushing their own services to the top of the pile?

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Re: I'm curious.

Exactly!

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Re: I'm curious.

Allegedly being the key word there I think. What proof do you have?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm curious.

Let's assume they are pushing their own services to the top of the pile - so what? If you see a lorry delivering stuff to Morrisons, it will hava a big Morrisons advert on the side. Should Tesco and Sainburys sue them because they're not getting a share of that space?

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Silver badge

Beginning to look like they're trying very hard to get Google to provide an excuse to do nothing, some offer that has no material effect. If nothing else they must be aware of just how expensive checking if there's any unfair behaviour in the ranking system will be.

If comment seen elsewhere is true, at least some of the supposed contractual strongarm claims are simply false, probably made up by the vertical search scum agitating for this. Very easy to say "we don't do that now and won't start doing it".

The sticky bit is ensuring the scumbags don't get to bypass proper ranking of their useless sites.

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Thumb Up

What Google has done!

If you're wondering what exactly this EU dude wants Google to work towards remedying, I suggest looking here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/21/joaquin_almunia_google_statement/

It's neatly linked in the article, put I do understand the desire to immediately post in the comments - so now it's neatly pointed out here as well :)

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Re: What Google has done!

OK. I read it.

One thing that struck me was that in one paragraph Google may be copying: "Google may be copying original material from the websites of its competitors such as user reviews and using that material on its own sites without their prior authorisation." In the next paragraph they are copying "In this way they are appropriating the benefits of the investments of competitors."

How did that happen? Deliberate misdirection or error in translation?

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Anonymous Coward

Tell them to sod off.

repeat, until they... sod off

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h3
Bronze badge

Maps is a bad example because Bing Maps is better at least in the UK (Has Ordinance Survey Landranger or Explorer maps available).

(The alternatives cost a fortune (Memory Map / Viewranger)

If they are using the OS data for routing then that should be far better than anyone else as well.

(At least better than Google / Navteq or Teleatlas anyway).

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