back to article Dominant web ad giant (Google) possibly 'weeks' away from Euro slapdown

Google will learn within weeks if its alleged abuse of dominance in the European search market will earn it a formal complaint from the EU's competition regulator. Sanctions and fines of up to 10 per cent of Google's annual worldwide turnover could yet be imposed on the company, antitrust commissioner and EC veep Joaquin Almunia …

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Anonymous Coward

Sigh

Perhaps if it was actually googles rivals complaining it'd make sense. But it's not, it's a laod of no name companies, or people who haven't updated their sites since the mid 90s who are crying because they don't make the first few slots. The only "rival" (and I use the term loosely) complaining is Bing, and they're doing many of the same things they're accusing Google of doing.

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Re: Sigh

It is not longer accurate to describe Google as a internet "search engine". The thing being searched is not the internet, just a domain of things Google is happy for you to see. And the items returned are not "results", but carefully ordered material that reflects how Google would like to integrate into your life.

You think you search Google, but you are the one being searched.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Google

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sigh

Any person who is anybody, that is who follows these things along, knows that the "new" Google search algorithms are bogus.

The fallout from Panda has never settled, the idea that you must construct your website to "step into Google's mindset", rather than your target audience, is laughable. Google's own 'link farm", their advertisers and the revenue stream they create, is known to bias search results and let's not talk about how linkbacks bias their search results - the idea that, based on frequency of reference quotations rankings can be assigned regardless of actual content, is extremely questionable and that is putting it mildly.

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Google has a Rival ?

Google has a Rival ?

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Re: Google has a Rival ?

Are the 'rivals' that are being referred to not websites like Compare the Market etc?

If you do a Google Search for Insurance you get their comparison engine as the first result and therefore promoting their services unfairly compared to ones such as Compare the Market and Go Compare etc...

The term "insurance" and the like are one of the highest search terms for Google and one of their now more profitable searches.

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So I just went to Google and typed...

"App store" - and without moving my mouse or scrolling my screen, this is what Google returns...

1 link to Google Play

5 links to Apple/iTunes etc

1 link to Amazon

1 link to Ask.com

1 link to Wikipedia

1 link to Google news re a story about the "Bust a move" app/game

I also tried "maps" and it returns links for Google, Bing, Streetmap, TFL, Metro and the BBC.

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Re: So I just went to Google and typed...

Sorry Aristotles... I am not sure what you are trying to say here as you do not elaborate. I am unsure if you are for or against Google on this with what you have written.

I assume you are against on this and are not trying to show that the others get returned also as that is not the problem.

This is about Google putting their links first - which your results show - regardless of whether their results should show up first.

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So where is the "abuse of dominance"???

Another US company getting boned by a European "watchdog" agency because it does a better job than the so called "competition".

I charge that this is nothing more than thinly veiled protectionist "nationalism".

Let the downvotes begin....

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@Dan Paul - Re: So where is the "abuse of dominance"???

I wouldn't have downvoted you if it wasn't for the fact that companies from other countries get similarly "boned" by America's thinly veiled protectionist nationalism.

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Re: So where is the "abuse of dominance"???

If the EU are serious about this, maybe they need to tell Tesco to put a Sainsbury's ad in their windows because that makes about as much sense.

Punishing private companies for being good at what they do. Unbelievable really.

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Re: So where is the "abuse of dominance"???

It's also possible that this crackdown is being encouraged behind the scenes as punishment for Google daring to decline to pay more taxes when the MP's puffed up their chests and crowed that they would take Big Business to task.

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Re: So where is the "abuse of dominance"???

Last time I checked Tesco did not hold a monopoly, unlike Google. If Tesco were the only supermarket in the UK and, say, put massive advertising for there own brand bread whilst hiding all other bread at the back of the shop they would also be getting the slap down.

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Re: So where is the "abuse of dominance"???

OK, I'll bite.

You're saying Tesco HAVE to sell Hovis's products. I don't care which way you slice it (see what I did there?) this does not make sense.

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Re: So where is the "abuse of dominance"???

Its hardly Googles fault for being the flavor of the Month...

>Implying that the likes of Yahoo, Bing, Baidu do NOT exist!

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Re: So where is the "abuse of dominance"???

So why does Google "hold" a monopoly? They certainly do not force people to type "google" into their web browser or select it as their default home page. My experience, tested every 1 - 2 months, is that search results on Google are never inferior to those on Bing and generally just a bit more precise, and are noticably better than those of Yahoo.

And however much the price comparison sites may whine, I have not found them to be useful and generally avoid or ignore them.

The complaints in both Europe and the US about Google's alleged monopoly abuse amount to classical rent seeking by their less successful competitors.

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Re: @Dan Paul - So where is the "abuse of dominance"???

Try giving me real world examples please. There are MANY examples of governmental interference from Euro government against American software and Web companies but I see little if any the other way around.

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Re: So where is the "abuse of dominance"???

Same as the presidential veto that benefited Apple.

Or the WTO rulings ignored by the US.

In an ideal world none of this type of thing would happen but at least the EU is a sort out counter balance to the US corporation.

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Go

It's their ball...

Maybe they should pick it up and go home.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's their ball...

They don't need to go that far, just redirect their european country code TLDs back at google.com, and run it all out of the states. Do that for six months and watch all the 'competitors whine like children about all the Europeans using an American company, instead of using their services.

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I wonder if we'll see a shift...

Towards Europeans using proxies, vpns or other spoofing measures to get through to a non-bolloxed version of the US Google once the EU regulators are done with it?

They've already managed to make EU websites slightly more annoying with the cookies warnings appearing here there and everywhere - forcing us to do an extra few mouse-clicks! I fear Google EU becoming unusable.

And when we look back on the action against Microsoft, didn't Firefox and Chrome manage to beat IE even before the final ruling and forcing MS to put a choice dialogue box in their OS?

What good are EU regulations when they frequently target not only yesterdays problems, but problems no-one is complaining about. At this rate, might as well not expect any action on UEFI bootloader locking until at least 2023 - when it's been surpassed by another technology altogether...

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Re: I wonder if we'll see a shift...

No the website operators choose to make them like that when it comes to the cookies thing.

I saw a Motorola site that did it properly when the rules first came out.

(Asked once if you agreed to who type of cookies - one set required to use the site and another for tracking / analytical purposes / marketing).

It was not at all annoying and allowed me to opt out of everything not essential to the site.

(As far as I am concerned if something is for their benefit they can do it on their servers.)

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Anonymous Coward

All mostly bollox

As comparing Google's page with relevant adverts and Microsoft's Google clearly label theirs, Bing doesn't.

Also a search for services only promotes google services which are popular (which it should) and less popular services are not on the first page. Microsoft however promotes ALL of it's services on the first page.

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Last Chance

For those interested now is your last opportunity to submit bribes, concessions and offers of Golden Emeritus Employment in Perpetuity before a final decision is made regarding this matter. No offers will be accepted after October 1st and must include a 5% of Total Value deposit of non-refundable "Good Faith" money (USD, Euro and Mexican Peso only) and/or bearer bonds.

This whole thing is quite shit.

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Re: Last Chance

USD, Euro and Mexican Peso only?

I wouldn't think any of those would be acceptable. I'd think we'd be talking Gold, Platinum, or Cut Gemstones.

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It's the user interfaces embedded in search results that are unfair

It's not the search results that I think are anti-competitive, it's the special user interfaces that lots of search terms give.

e.g. A stock ticker like "TSLA" half the page is filled with basically a Google Finance search result. However, it isn't a normal search result, it gets to have special formatting, a graph, and some buttons. Nobody else's service can do that!

Same with "fly to New York". Sure at the top you get some adverts marked as such, fair enough. Then the next hit is a special table callout box with a nice icon, completely different to a search result, more prominent and usable. No competitor can do that.

I wish they'd auction these GUI add-ons as well, so anyone could get in on the game. At least DuckDuckGo lets you write your own and send them a pull request.

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Re: It's the user interfaces embedded in search results that are unfair

I don't know. Would you rather them have patented 'a system by which an interactive GUI is dynamically embedded into search results pages' or some such nonsense that would prevent any other search engines from doing something similar on their pages?

Google has a leg up. The anti-competitive part of this is attempting to punish someone for a better product. MS and Yahoo! have spent billions trying to compete. Hell, Bing offered to pay people in real money to use their services, and they haven't come close. There's no way for anyone to compete unless they figure out a better way to search.

That's supposed to be the idea behind competitive markets. Someone has a product or service that everybody wants and you want some of that money too. You build a better widget and people will come to you. If your competitor can't be beaten that means you lose until/unless you figure out how to outperform them. Customers have no loyalty and will always go where the best thing is, the best deal is, the best whatever that fulfills their needs is.

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Re: It's the user interfaces embedded in search results that are unfair

Francis,

FACT: There is no such thing as a free lunch, all "free" web services need to advertise in order to make money.

Google provides alot of reasonably valuable services at no charge so they need to advertise a lot and frequently.

BIG NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT (from the early 00's): Google is NOT JUST A SEARCH ENGINE! They are also a "Web Portal" just like Yahoo and AOL who provide their own content. Those GUI's you see on some Google search results are NO DIFFERENT!

There is a reason why another company that does similar things is called a "Competitor" because they compete with each other (not watchdog agencies) and (newsflash) the best one WINS the CUSTOMERS BUSINESS!

LESSON: If you can't compete, try harder instead of complaining to watchdog agencies to fight your battles for you. Otherwise STFU.

When I type "Fly to New York" into Google I get 11 different companies links and Googles table is fourth down the list and many are shown as Ad's as are all links in the right hand column where Google does not even show up. That's the first page of 527,000,000 results. How is that preventing "competition"????

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Re: It's the user interfaces embedded in search results that are unfair

Microsoft is one of the people complaining. (No doubt Google was when they were in the same situation or certainly would be now).

All of the big web companies abuse what ever processes exist.

(So I just block their adverts fair is fair - I didn't mind the text ad's until they started messing about. I act in my best interests exactly the same as they do.)

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Anonymous Coward

M$ again

Many of the complainers are owned by or associated with Microsoft (Fair Search in particular).

I wonder what the going rate is for an EU comissioner?

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Re: M$ again

that is possibly unfair.

One thing is definitely true, however: the only monopoly that is completely legal and is actively enforced across the EU is the EU itself

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Stop

I am for it because

Remember in the 00's when the boot was on the other foot Google, now its your turn! Also remember that BT got chopped up for similar reasons, it got too big for its boots and abused its position to give an advantage to itself over competition.

As an owner of an IT company I am sick, tired and fed up of spending time unticking boxes presented in various applications, downloads and software inviting me to install Google this and Google that, many less than tech savvy users don't understand or don't feel they have a choice.

Google IS becoming extremely intrusive in every aspect of IT and quite frankly their future plans to tie all your personal data hosted with them into their search engine is SCARY! Many people have jumped into the Google camp because they were not aware that there were other options.

Google is dominant and overly so, it is drowning the competition to force its own content, ads, maps, email, pick any Google service, in every search you do.

Time to wind you neck in Google, start paying taxes and start playing fair!!

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Re: I am for it because

I think most people, especially those that read this site, are quite aware there are other options. The rub though is that Google simply provides more relevant results earlier in the set. Even with their creeping advert inserts and slightly weighted results I tend to find what I want, fastest using Google.

Tried Bing, tried Duck Duck Go, and a few other tiny search engines and they simply do not work as well as Google. This is doubly true when searching for ultra specialized niche information where it is more likely as not the site hasn't been well designed with searching/discovery in mind. The 'options' will certainly find big brand name sites that have a dedicated team ensuring their sites are easy to find, but what if I want to find say 'flame cleanable 1,1,1-trichloroethane resistant fabric filters'? Somewhere on page 3,531 of 'the options' results you might find something that you can use as a clue to use in further investigation.

So I suppose it depends on your use, but for work I much prefer finding what I want faster. If I'm looking for a new Bosch range for my kitchen I probably doesn't matter.

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