back to article Google tired of endless AGONY over alleged EU search biz abuse

Google is itching to wind things up with the European Commission over claims that the ad giant stifled the online search market within the European Union. Google's rivals have been granted just four weeks to scrutinise a revised package of concessions that Google recently laid before competition officials in Brussels. However, …

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Yawn.....

Sorry but just go away anyone moaning about Google on this.

So they link to their own online offers first, well wow, what do you expect ? a link to Bing maps etc with their own at the bottom ?

Its simple to me, Google maps does what I want or I try another map, same as other searches, if I am looking to buy online I don't just look at google shopping, I check other sites etc. Google are so big because they are good enougth for the vast majority. As to being search engine of choice on phones etc, thats not Google thats the phone manufacturers doing it, why? because its what buyers want. Even iPhone and Windows phone owners want Google maps, search etc....

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Re: Yawn.....

Here we go again...

The fact is that, for most people, Google is not just *a* search engine, it is *the* search engine. Do you "search" for something online or do you "google" it?

When a company is in such a market dominating position as Google is, it is no longer sufficient to say "well people can go somewhere else" because most people don't even know that there is anywhere else to go in the first place.

So they go to Google, expecting to get at least a semblence of impartiality in their search results, but, instead, get Google's preferred service at the top and others relegated to lower position *even if* those others might actually have had higher organic result rankings and that is an abuse of a monopoly position, just as it was when Microsoft restricted the browser choice market.

The fact of the matter is that monopolies are generally very bad for consumers because they end up restricting choice and that is the point at which regulators need to step in.

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Re: Yawn.....

Indeed this could hold true, but try "Binging" for Maps, what do you see first as the first result? I see Google Maps, so even Microsoft agree with the ranking anyway!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yawn.....

It's the French moaning. Why ? Because they are French.

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Re: Yawn.....

I am not sure where I stand on all of this yet, but I do know that Google makes information easily accessible.

When I use a search engine, I am looking for information. I don't really care where that information comes from, as long as it is the information I need.

If I search for a postcode, I expect a map. If I search for a product, it is likely that I will want price comparisons. And, to be frank, I don't want to wait for another site to load up to give me that information: I want it there, now, at my "fingertips".

Google do this well. If I search for a postcode, it returns a map showing me where it is. If I search for a product, I will have a list of sellers right there on the page. This makes it more convenient for me.

If they didn't do that, instead showing links to other price comparison or mapping sites, it would not be as convenient a service for me. Yet another click to get to my information is not what I (or the majority of users) want.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yawn.....

When a company is in such a market dominating position as Google is, it is no longer sufficient to say "well people can go somewhere else" because most people don't even know that there is anywhere else to go in the first place.

They could easily ask Google... btw the next time you call the people of this planet stupid (so stupid they can't find anything other than Google on the internet), you can expect to get a far shorter answer than that one.

So they go to Google, expecting to get at least a semblence of impartiality in their search results, but, instead, get Google's preferred service at the top and others relegated to lower position *even if* those others might actually have had higher organic result rankings and that is an abuse of a monopoly position, just as it was when Microsoft restricted the browser choice market.

OMFG, a business who promote their own offereings over the offerings of others... whatever next? A free market where consumers can choose whether to shop at Tesco or Asda? Maybe Tesco should start telling their customers that Asda sell groceries as well... you know with big fucking adverts over the front of all their stores.

The fact of the matter is that monopolies are generally very bad for consumers because they end up restricting choice and that is the point at which regulators need to step in.

Those would be the monopolies which come to exist because people chose to use them would it?

I'll tell you what, rather than fucking up the companies people chose to use, how about you go and convince the people who make that choice to use another service... you know by providing a better service at a comparible price point.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yawn.....

Yawn, here we go again. It's THE search engine because it's the BEST search engine. Google maps are top of the rankings because they are the BEST maps.

Take one of Google's less popular offerings, say picture storage/search, and FlckR comes above it in the ratings, as it should.

Are you suggesting Google should be deliberately knobbled because it's too good for Microsoft to keep up, as that frankly mindset sucks ass.

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Re: Yawn.....

>Are you suggesting Google should be deliberately knobbled because it's too good for Microsoft to keep up, as that frankly mindset sucks ass.

But it was perfectly reasonable to knobble Microsoft for abusing their monopoly, right?

Is Google's monopoly made from magic and unicorn farts?

Why do you want Google to have all the money, Barry?

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Re: Yawn.....

Actually, I didn't have a problem with MS bundling their web browser with their OS. And I have some serious gripes with MS. I started using FF because it had been recomended by people who's opinions I respected, and because having tried it I felt it to be superior. I then recomended FF to other people because it was IMHO "better" than IE. And that's how it should be.

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Re: Yawn.....

I'm pretty sure we've all run into the user who opens ALL web pages by opening their browser (which has Google set as the homepage or just the FF default search page) and simply typing the URL you've given them into Google before selecting the top result.

If you don't think that indicates a potentially dangerous pervasiveness then presumably you're equally gullible about everything and have "nothing to hide so nothing to fear".

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Re: Yawn.....

But the problem here is you are talking unsubstantiated rubbish, if you search around for pictures and picture sharing, you get the more popular offerings such as Flikr and not Googles services. This is one of the few examples where Google is not the best. Another one as a great example is it's social network, if you Google for Social Network you get a lot of news articles, but keep going through them and the actual first network is bebo and not Google+. So please tell me, what alternate reality did you come to your conclusions from?

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Re: Yawn.....

I was on the anti-Google side of this debate till I saw Barry's post and did a simple test:

Search "online picture storage" in Google, there's shutterfly, snapfish, flickr above picasa (which is the 7th entry)

Search "free online data storage" in Google, there's 6 or 7 products and google drive isn't even on the front page (it appears in the ad section together with a bunch of others)

Search "online translation" in Google, google translate is number 1 (as expected, while far from perfect Google translate is really good at what is a hugely difficult problem, and miles ahead of anything else I've ever seen)

Search "online maps" in Google, mapquest is numbre 1, google maps is number 2 (!!!!)

So, quick look around, I can't see any evidence that G is promoting it's stuff artificially, it's products are ranked exactly where I would anticipate on a 'fair' search (even lower in the maps case). Now, possibly they have done this now and this wasn't the case before the EU started digging...

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@Graham Marsden - Re: Yawn.....

Thank you very much for explaining us the difference between being dominant and abusing the dominant position.

And no, you can't ask any business on this planet to advertise their competitors products for free. It is a huge difference between saying people don't know there is an alternative and actively preventing them from going to a (well known) alternative.

Let's not be silly, shall we?

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Anonymous Coward

@dogged - Re: Yawn.....

By default, IE sends your search query to Bing and IE has a huge installed base, so how's this for you ?

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Re: @dogged - Yawn.....

By default, Chrome, Firefox and Opera send your queries to Google.

Your point?

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Oh dear, once again... (Re: Yawn...)

Once again we get the tired old arguments of "maybe Tesco should advertise Asda" and other such straw-man nonsense.

As Dr Mouse says, if he wants a map, he goes to google, types in a post code and there's Google Maps with all the others pushed down "below the fold". Sure, google makes it easy to find and nice and convenient, but it makes it easy to find their products before all others.

So imagine this: Google does a lucrative deal with Fox News so that every time you search for a news story, Fox's version of events and their opinions are prioritised above all others. Would you still be happy then?

Is that giving you what *YOU* are looking for or what *THEY* decide is best for you to see?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh dear, once again... (Yawn...)

Talk about straw man arguments.

So imagine this: Google does a lucrative deal with Fox News so that every time you search for a news story, Fox's version of events and their opinions are prioritised above all others. Would you still be happy then?

Come on then Graham tell us of a single company which Google promotes in this way for money.

Google promote their own offerings inline with what any other company promotes their own offerings, they don't promote anyone elses offerings. Straw man arguments suggesting they could... well... when they do, the users they have will be free to use the search engine capability to go look at other sources of news.

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Childcatcher

Re: Oh dear, once again... (Yawn...)

So imagine this: Google does a lucrative deal with Fox News so that every time you search for a news story, Fox's version of events and their opinions are prioritised above all others. Would you still be happy then?

ZOMG THAT HYPOTHETICAL IS HORRIBLESZ.

Now how about you tell us what's actually bad for consumers about the current situation and quit pissing on slopes to make them slippery.

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Re: @dogged - Yawn..... by default

My firefox tried to send me to Bing until told otherwise - the default is set by the phone provider or the OS distribution producer as far as I can tell.

I tried bing and found it to be wanting and biased. I tried using MS maps but a grey world on a grey background may be close to reality but is pretty damned useless when trying to find you way about.

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Re: Oh dear, once again... (Yawn...)

@obnoxiousGit and Steve Knox.

Way to miss the point, guys, so let me spell it out for you again...

"Is that giving you what *YOU* are looking for or what *THEY* decide is best for you to see?"

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Re: Oh dear, once again... (Yawn...)

@ Graham Marsden

"Is that giving you what *YOU* are looking for or what *THEY* decide is best for you to see?"

How do you think they got to be a monopoly?

Was it by telling the end user what they wanted?

Was it by giving the end user something they didn't want?

Was it by only providing links to the sites they approved of? You know like not listing Bing/Yahoo/Altavista/etc... etc?

What you are doing is repeating the same arguments that are used against any successful company. Tesco own the grocery marketplace in the UK, it must be because they're brain washing customers into using their stores... it couldn't possibly be that customers choose to use them because they find them so damned convenient, and so helpful/responsive when they have any kind of problem at all... no it must be Tesco being evil.

Google own the European search market... it couldn't because they provide end users with what they want, no it must be because they're doing evil things and forcing/trapping end users into using their services.... really?

Not one of us who argue against you claim that monopolies are a good thing, indeed I suspect the vast majority of us thing any monoploy supplier should be watched carefully by the regulatory bodies... but the very idea that Google must stop being successful because the competition don't like it is just absolutely fucking incredible... and that somehow the regulator has agreed with this rather incredible argument, and has actively intervened to damage Googles perfectly legally practiced business in favour of those competitors... well how the fuck does that protect comsumers? It's got nothing to do with protecting comsumers... this is about protecting the business interests of the elected representatives... that's the only reason which makes any sense... that some corrupt little twat is getting back handers from various sources to cripple Google in favour of their competitors...

Now show us all where Google are being anti competitive... show us a single search where they don't respond with appropriate links, and where their competitiion isn't rated appropriately. I've seen any number of members here post their own results of searchs for "search engines" and "mapping services", etc. etc.

All I ever hear from your side of this argument is "but, because they're so damned big, they could manipulate the market, and we mustn't allow them to be able to do that"... but oddly enough you seem happy for others to manipulate the market to suit what you think it should look like... even when the only grounds they have for that manipulation is that Google are seemingly providing those they serve with services which they apparently like.

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Anonymous Coward

@dogged - Re: @dogged - Yawn.....

You missed the second part of my comment, the one regarding the installed base. Please give it another try!

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Re: Oh dear, once again... (Yawn...)

@obnoxiousGit and Steve Knox.

Way to miss the point, guys, so let me spell it out for you again...

"Is that giving you what *YOU* are looking for or what *THEY* decide is best for you to see?"

In your original post, the "that" in the above sentence refers the absurd hypothetical you posited.

No, that's not giving me what I'm looking for, but it's also not what Google is currently doing.

Let's borrow from your playbook for a second:

So imagine this: Graham Marsden has built a giant robot pterodactyl specifically for the purpose of tearing the heads off little children.

Is that giving you what *YOU* are looking for or what *HE* has decided is best for you?

Now do you see the logical fallacy in your argument, or do you just want to go back to your baby-eating robot pterodactyl?

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Re: Oh dear, once again... (Yawn...)

So imagine this: Google does a lucrative deal with Fox News so that every time you search for a news story, Fox's version of events and their opinions are prioritised above all others. Would you still be happy then?

The point, for me, is that they don't. They act as a search engine.

The only part I regularly use through the search engine which is not just a search engine is Maps. I use this not just because it is convenient, but because it is a damn good product. I do not just go to Google and type in a postcode because it is convenient. If there was a significantly better free online map, I would use that.

Other than that, I use Google as a search engine. Whether this is for a general web page, a product, a news story or even a forum post, it provides me with links to relevant information. If it didn't, I wouldn't use it.

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Re: Oh dear, once again... (Yawn...)

@obnoxiousGit:

Re: Tesco - They (and the other big supermarkets, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons) got to be Oligopoly suppliers because a decade or so ago they started selling bread at 7p a loaf and tins of beans at 3p each, ie at well below even the cost of production. This had the effect of driving all the small suppliers out of business, even those who were supplying better products and giving better service, because they simply couldn't compete when the vast majority of people were simply buying on price.

Getting back to google: Try this example, then, you open a copy of the Yellow Pages (which has been bought out by Google) and instead of finding it listed in A, B, C order, you find it goes Google, A, B, C. Most people will start at the beginning (hence why companies change their names to A1 Computers, 1st ABC Computers, .1Computers etc) but again you're getting one company prioritising its services over all others.

Or try this one: Financial Advisers used to be able to claim to be Independant whilst prioritising their own company's financial products over others which was to *their* benefit because they got bigger commissions from them than the ones which would actually have been best for the customer. Do you think that the government was wrong to make sure that people were kept informed of whether or not they were actually getting impartial advice?

Ensuring fair competition is not "manipulating the market", in fact it is the antithesis of it.

PS @Steve Knox - Building a bigger (or sillier) Straw Man doesn't make your arguments any better.

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Re: Oh dear, once again... (Yawn...)

@Dr Mouse

"If there was a significantly better free online map, I would use that."

But how do you know? If someone comes up with a better map which should, organically, go to the top of the search rankings, but Google keeps prioritising its own offering, how will you or anyone else find out about it?

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Re: Yawn.....

*sigh* You're missing the point.

Imagine you sell widgets, they're really popular and after lots of time, effort and money you've got the start of a thriving business online. You're #1 in Google search and more people are finding your site every day.

Then Google decide they want a piece of that action. They start selling widgets and your page suddenly languishes on Page 195 of Google's results. No more customers come your way. Even old customers who go searching for widgets just see that your page has disappeared, assume you've gone bust and buy from Google instead.

That's an *enormous* amount of power and it's incredibly hard to argue that Google does not have the power to wield it, should they so choose. Now, as it stands today I doubt they've *explicitly* set out to do exactly that (arguably some PageRank changes were designed to push competitors rankings down) but they're certainly using their position to promote their own services way above anything else.

Google is really the ideal example of where splitting the business off is the only real way to prevent abuse. Put the "search" business into a separate company, funded purely by ad sales and force every other service to buy ads in a way consistent with any other company. If those services really are the best, it won't affect them at all.

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Re: Oh dear, once again... (Yawn...)

>Tesco own the grocery marketplace in the UK, it must be because they're brain washing customers into using their stores...

You're on a loser, citing Tesco - considering their behaviour towards suppliers.

Monopolies are A Bad Thing, not just because they limit choice for consumers, not just because they place suppliers to that industry in a difficult situation, but also because they inhibit any possible entrant to the industry, who cannot hope to emulate the monopolist's self-serving arrangements.

However cuddly Google might appear to be, they are still approaching monopoly status in several realms, and any responsible regulator must respond to that - either by setting conditions for future operations, or by breaking up the trust.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh dear, once again... (Yawn...)

@ Graham Marsden & strum

I hope neither of you are ever unfortunate enough to create a market leading company/brand, and have to sit back and watch as paranoid people decide that your success should be destroyed because they live in fear, despite you never having done anything to deserve to have your efforts destroyed.

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Re: Oh dear, once again... (Yawn...)

@obnoxiousGit

I hope that if I ever create a market leading brand, I'll still be able to keep to my ethical principles...

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Re: Oh dear, once again... (Yawn...)

@ Graham Marsden

You've yet to show that Google haven't kept theirs. Only managing speculation on how damaging it could be if they did.

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What i find amusing about all this is that if I use bing and search for maps, it is Googles mapping service that gets displayed first and most prominently, so evidently even Microsoft think this is the most likely thing a user wants to see! How can they complain and then rank the results the same themselves! Crazy!

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Because Google Maps are great and one of the top brands.

Now try with "car insurance", not something Google are renowned for and yet their "sponsored" result for their comparison service comes top of the list, above big names like MoneySupermarket, Compare The Market etc.

It even lets you start a quote in the results page.

This is what people are complaining about. Not that Google are successful. Nor that Google services should always be secondary.

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All this fuss

The comparison to Microsoft seems a bit harsh. Its not as if it is particularly hard for anyone to switch to another search engine or maps provider. Heck even Android is open source and can and has been forked by competitors.

The reason they are successful is because their products are at the very least quite acceptable and often the best available. Where they aren't such as Android offline mapping its very easy to just install another app or on the desktop use something else.

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Re: All this fuss

And it wasn't that hard for Windows users to install another web browser so its a fair comparison.

The complaints for both Google and Microsoft is the inclusion of a product in a market dominating product and making it a default option. Shopping (originally Froogle) is a separate product to the Google search engine and competes with specialist search engines such as Reevo and the same goes for Google Maps. Both products are integrated into Google Search in such a way that the fact they are separate products is obscured.

The simplest way to look at it is this,

If Reevo can compete with Google Shopping purely by being better than competition is working.

If Reevo can only compete with Google Shopping by also building their own search engine or partnering up with a Google Rival (Microsoft and Ciao) then competition is not working as it should.

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Re: All this fuss

Its not as if it is particularly hard for anyone to switch to another search engine or maps provider.

This, and a thousand times this.

You can firewall the entire Google IP range out of your network and continue to use the rest of the Internet largely unimpeded. What happens to all that expensive Windows software if you uninstall Windows? Are there any Windows-compatible alternatives? Can you download Windows for free?

Yeah, didn't think so.

Wasn't the entire Windows API designed specifically to lock any competition out? To make the cost of switching to any alternatives so prohibitively expensive that people would put up with any old shit, so long as their software keeps working?

Thought so.

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Childcatcher

Googled Googling Google

The top response Google returns for "search engine list" is http://www.thesearchenginelist.com/ - a list made up almost entirely of sites I had never heard of before now.

I tried to use a few other search engines as an experiment at one point. It really sucked! I am aware that Google is biased toward their profits, but they are still much better than the competition.

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Anonymous Coward

How many morons does it take to change a light bulb?

It's not about the number, it's getting one to change it, cos they're all busy on the register's forum.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How many morons does it take to change a light bulb?

Your first attempt is almost good. Now try it with both your brain cells switched to on.

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