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back to article EU antitrust chief growls at Google, hopes to avoid sanctions

Brussels' competition chief Joaquin Almunia has sniffed at any suggestion that the European Commission would follow the US consumer watchdog by allowing Google to avoid a tough settlement over its alleged "abuse of dominance" in the online search market. Speaking with the Financial Times, the commissioner said that the stateside …

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Anonymous Coward

Re: EU

Oh look, you know about as much as European political history as you do about Windows.

Let's try this one: The most useful thing the European Union has done is take a feudal continent, pretty much constantly at war within itself, a place where some of the countries still had dictatorships and turn it into a stable peaceful place to live. At the same time massively increasing the wealth of the inhabitants and making it one of the largest (possibly the largest) economies in the world.

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Gold badge

Re: EU

Is that you, Schmidt? :)

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Childcatcher

Re: EU

Old city conservstive suit brigade?

EU is the best thay has happened to us all. Some people like you are just afraid of changes and facing competition from our brother nations.

Dont particularly like the French but still think EU is way way better than then US dictatorship and the more they involve to prevent UK becoming a big brother state the better.

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Silver badge

Re: EU

The EU is a socialist and simultaneously a fascist organisation.

A bit like the Fascists then, who re-introduced the old Latin word into the modern era. They were an off-shoot of the Italian Socialist Party.

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Search results

I just typed "online maps" into Google and the first result was streetmap.co.uk. So tell me again why the EU is spending no doubt millions on this investigation?

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Pint

Re: Search results

Probably something to do with the fact that "Almunia's office told Google in mid-December that it must convince its rivals that it competes fairly in the web search market"

So, do you think Google is capable of convincing Microsoft and its proxies that it competes fairly? Or do you think this is handing a golden opportunity to Microsoft to basically settle a score with a competitor by getting them fined a few million €'s?

Let's not lose sight of the fact that Google is not blocking competitors. It provides a 'list' of relevant search results- by definition a list has a "1st" result and then is followed by others. How Google determines what should be first is entirely their own decision by their own algorythm - they are not charging for the service!*

This is fight to be No. 1 (or in Microsofts case, just to f*ck with a rival as usual) and rather than focus on competing for that spot, some competitors want Google to favour them.

*I believe Google was accused of doing something funny with advertising keywords too - there is where any EU investigation should be focused, if true - but not on a free service that doesn't actually charge anything.

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Bronze badge
Paris Hilton

Re: Search results

My results for "online maps", in order, were

www.mapquest.com/

www.bing.com/maps/

www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/

maps.google.co.uk/

Paris: Because I can find my way around her without a map

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Boffin

Not the point

Google for an address like "17 baker street london": You will get a map on top of the page, created by Google Maps. As you would expect, clicking on that map brings you to Google Maps.

You might think this is obvious. But Google for "AAPL": You will get a chart on top of the page showing the evolution of the Apple stock; but clicking on that chart brings you nowhere. You actually have to choose between three (tiny and hard to see) options below the graph, which are Google Finance, Yahoo Finance and MSN Money. No assumption is made that since you are searching on Google, you necessarily want the Google product.

Note that this behavior could be argued to be worse for the user than just linking the graph to Google Finance. After all, the user who mostly does not care probably expects that he can click on the graph to get more information. He does not know that he has to click on one of the tiny links, he might indeed spend a few seconds figuring that out. This normally counts as bad user experience.

There might be many reasons why the assumption would be made that you want Google Maps, instead of Bing Maps or (god forbid) Mapquest. Probably, Google Maps is much more popular than its competitors, which might not be the case for Google Finance.

Of course, Bing and Yahoo do the "natural" thing and link to their own products…

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Search results

Search on Google for maps returns:

Google Maps .co.uk

Google Maps .com

Streetmap

TFL

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Re: Search results

type "maps", and does google appear on the top? tell me what is listed and in what order please.

SiteLinks for top #1 ranking websites etc, or MORE THAN 1 LINK in the top 10 from the same domain name, or sub domain name, is also anti-competitive and unfair. Because its the same business entity. Why would one entity be so deserving to have 2 links in the top 10, pointing to the same business website. Why wouldn't others get this chance with the same keyword.

(WHY WHY) should they get even more real estate than the other top 9 sites, its already hard enough for #2 and number #3 sites to get traffic away from #1 and they are giving away more space. TO BE FAIR EACH SITE SHOULD GET THE SAME SPACE. Count the number of pixels X-Y-Z in the listings, and all other top, bottom, left, or right panels. See if they are giving unfair advantages, by running tests on more than 100,000 keywords.

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Facepalm

Re: Search results

I wonder why the results might be a bit different after both the US and EU started investigating them.

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Pint

Re: Search results

do you know guys you are google cookies?

try searching in "incognito mode" or after cleaning your browser, and you will get different results...

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KISS = Keep it simple keep it stupid. Write Automated Test Cases

Lets write an automated computer test engine, and write test cases for the engine.

--TEST CASE 001--

google.co.uk - type kiss - count the number of co.uk listings, how many are top 10, or top 5, or top 3, or #1?

google.ie - type kiss - count the number of ie listings, how many are top 10, or top 5, or top 3, or #1?

google.ca - type kiss - count the number of ca listings, how many are top 10, or top 5, or top 3, or #1?

google.fr - type kiss - count the number of fr listings, how many are top 10, or top 5, or top 3, or #1?

google.de - type kiss - count the number of de listings, how many are top 10, or top 5, or top 3, or #1?

google.co.in - type kiss - count the number of co.in listings, how many are top 10, or top 5, or top 3, or #1?

--TEST CASE 002--

Prove that even if every person (100% population- 60,776,238), in the UK, visited a UK website for a given keyword, but then in the USA just as many people (60,776,238 from 301,139,947 = 20%) visited a US website for the same keyword, who/what website should appear at the top of google.co.uk or google.ie? US website or UK website?

Now go forth and write many more test cases for the engine. Interpret the results, graph them, make generalisations, and share your research on online forums.

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Re: KISS = Keep it simple keep it stupid. Write Automated Test Cases

Unless I missed something, it has nothing to do with locality of the search results, it has to do with Google giving priority to it's own properties over competing services. e.g. put in a street address and get a link to Google maps before the "organic" search results for the address. Or put in a stock ticker and get a stock price quoted without going to Reuters, etc.

OK, it can be argued they are improving the service for customers, but they're also denying 3rd party sites the ability to get traffic to keep those sites alive and well.

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Facepalm

Re: KISS = Keep it simple keep it stupid. Write Automated Test Cases

"but they're also denying 3rd party sites the ability to get traffic to keep those sites alive and well."

And that only makes sense if those sites have an entitlement to web traffic. Google is a 3rd party website that provides a list of other websites that it has indexed - conveniently for people who want an easy way to find other websites.

Google is not a public service, it's not paid for (for it's general list of results). Search engines used to operate on the basis that you submitted your website to their listing service, so if you weren't listed in e.g. Yahoo - tough.

As far as I know Google was the first to revolutionise that and automatically create it's index - it does not mean you are entitled to be listed - it just means they became the best at doing listings because they saved you the hassle of registering.

As someone who can remember Web 1.0, this kind of action just makes me want to bang my head on the desk.

They should just create a google.eu site for search with nothing on it. Anyone who wants to be listed has to fill in a form and wait 24 hours for Google to index it - like the good old days...

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Re: KISS = Keep it simple keep it stupid. Write Automated Test Cases

"As far as I know Google was the first to revolutionise that and automatically create it's index"

Uh, not AFAIK. AltaVista operated an automated crawler at least 3 years before Google came along, as did Inktomi (now part of Yahoo!). Yahoo! even had used Inktomi search results before they bought them, but their main sell (at the time) was their manually maintained content index.

Google's innovation was its PageRank algorithm which made its results more relevant to the search query.

"And that only makes sense if those sites have an entitlement to web traffic. "

No, it makes sense if Google is acting in an anti-competitive manner and leveraging its dominance in the search market to push its other services in preference to organic search results from its crawler. It keeps claiming to only display organic results, and yet its own results are always first. There is also no justification for its use of reviews from 3rd party sites in its own product review section. Sure, if people submitted the reviews to Google, fine, but scraping them from other review sites and showing them as part of Google's product review section is wrong, especially as I don't remember links back to the review site (unlike search results)

Microsoft got smacked for making it easier to use IE (and in fact making it impossible to remove) than it was to go get another browser, and Netscape went bust - it is open to debate if it was a direct result of the MS action or natural evolution, although a strong case can be made that the MS action was a significant contributing factor in the demise of Netscape.

I see no reason why what Google is doing is any different to what MS did - abuse dominance.

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Anonymous Coward

leaks?

So the US are investigating leaks in their antri-trust investigation of Google. Over here in Europe the head of the commission is blabbing his head off to a newspaper. ...

Surely Google coukd use this as the basis of some appeal

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Regional UK, NZ, AU, FR, DE, CA, IE, and other search results, have been changed.

Remember the home page used to have 2 radio buttons, one World Wide, the other radio button was for Regional UK, IE, CA, etc country specific searches. (they buried it deeper twice, and thought we would not notice)

Take a look at google.co.uk or google.ca,.

1) Where has "Search pages from Canada" gone? Yes deeply buried. (they buried it deeper twice)

2) Where has "Search pages from UK" gone, Yes deeply buried. (they buried it deeper twice)

3) Where has "Search pages from New Zealand" gone, Yes deeply buried. (they buried it deeper twice)

4) Where has "Search pages from Germany" gone, Yes deeply buried (they buried it deeper twice)

etc.... for every other country out there.

SiteLinks for top #1 ranking websites etc, or more than one link in the top 10 from the same domain name or sub domain name, is also anti-competitive and unfair. Why should they get even more real estate than the other top 9 sites, its already hard enough for #2 and number #3 sites to get traffic away from #1 and they are giving away more space. TO BE FAIR EACH SITE SHOULD GET THE SAME SPACE.

I agree with your comment.

"LarsG - They are in the clear, the algorithms they use are so complex and convoluted that they baffled the investigators, most of whom were turned down for jobs by Google for not being clever enough."

A top US based website gets way more traffic, because there's simply more people in the USA, so how is a poor French website going to compete on the same keyword? The answer is they can't, not unless seriously gifted mathematicians expose the google search engine bias. Why do they hate other countries?

I've got many years of pop-corn ready to watch and learn.

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Silver badge

Impartial much?

For his part, Almunia has said it is his "conviction" that the multi-billion dollar corporation is "diverting traffic" to its own services.

I'm pretty sure saying something like that means he should be removed from all further proceedings doesn't it?

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Re: Impartial much?

Not really- as the head of the Commission's competition wing, he's more of a prosecutor than a judge. If google challenged the decision and went to the European Court and a judge came out with that, then you'd be right.

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Thumb Up

QOTW

"You can ... think, well, this European authority, the commission, has received a gift from the American authorities, given that now every result they will get will be much better than the conclusions of the FTC."

There it is. Right there.

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Linux

I used to use Yahoo. Within a few weeks of Google coming into play I was using Google. Why? Because it was easier to use and seemed to give better results.

If Microsoft and its cronies want me to stop using Google the remedy is simple: create a search engine that gives better results and is easier to use. It might be difficult to implement but is that too difficult to grasp?

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