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back to article Google search biz offer BINNED by EU competition chief

Google's latest attempt to wiggle away from allegations that it abuses its dominant position in Europe's search market suffered a significant blow today - its revised offer to Brussels' competition chief has been rejected. Antitrust commissioner Joaquin Almunia said during an interview on Spanish radio this morning that Google's …

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Joaquin Almunia warns ad giant that time is running out

How long have they had already? And why should they be given any more time?

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Anonymous Coward

They'll be pi@sed off when Google switches the whole EU off.

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Anonymous Coward

"They'll be pi@sed off when Google switches the whole EU off."

No one would really care. The are better options like Facebook, Bing, Outlook.com, Office Webapps, etc. etc...

It's about time The Borg got a slap down like Microsoft did a few years ago...

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Anonymous Coward

vertical search?

Sorry but who the F*** want to have to remember :

For restaurants go to site A

For Pubs go to site B

For Indian take aways go to site C

etc...

The reason that Google is successful is that they are usually reasonably good and we're too lazy to look elsewhere.

I hate the idea of monopolies (well unless I own one - huh) but I'm a lazy bleeding sod.

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Re: vertical search?

It is more like

Does the alternatives to Google give me the same sort of user experience that I get from the Chocolate Factory?

If the answer is no then... [insert bleedingly obvious sentence here]

If the likes of Bling were any good then they would get the hits.

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Re: vertical search?

"Does the alternatives to Google give me the same sort of user experience that I get from the Chocolate Factory?

If the answer is no then... [insert bleedingly obvious sentence here]

If the likes of Bling were any good then they would get the hits."

I thought this wasn't about Google's control of the search market. I thought this was about Google's control of the search market meaning they can decide whether any web-based business goes bankrupt or not, and that they may pull these levers with impunity. When you have that sort of power over an entire industry, it's amazing that you aren't already tightly regulated.

Think that Google's position for the Internet is roughly similar to utility companies'. Imagine if water companies had the ability to simply turn the tap off to a business if they don't like it. They can't, because there are rules that say they can't. Google is the equivalent for the Internet, but has no such regulation to stop it from doing whatever it wants.

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Re: vertical search?

? ? ? ?

Start of first paragraph makes no sense and argument in last is bogus, Google have no cotrol over you at all except if you have a gmail account etc they can withdraw it. Hardly stops you using the internet let alone getting cut off.....

Google are only as powerful as you want in as much as you can use any of the other search engines etc you want.

Oh and this is purely about other companies moaning that their map business or wahtever is nowhere as obvious as Googles offering.....

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Re: vertical search?

"this was about Google's control of the search market meaning they can decide whether any web-based business goes bankrupt or not, and that they may pull these levers with impunity."

We've had experience of Google doing this. We appeared at positions in search results appropriate to our website and company size until Google noticed us and rang up saying they could 'optimize' our spend with them. When we said we were ok, thank you, we then mysteriously dropped right down the search results, and our adwords per-click minimum bid prices became very expensive even though nobody else seemed to be bidding for them.

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@DavCrav

"they may pull these levers with impunity"

That *possibility* is why the EU feel entitled to regulate.

The near total failure of the complaining competitors to convince anyone (but each other) that it's actually happening is why the neither the EU or Google are in any apparent hurry to settle.

The ongoing reality is, even completely neutral and fair search ranking inherently facilitates and accelerates competition and that's extremely bad news for poor products. And that's half the problem, producers of bad product are being hurt by their own poor quality more than ever before, unable to find enough clueless buyers because search is giving too many clues.

While I ordinarily wouldn't care how much bad products get fscked, I have some sympathy with a view that page1 results are so powerful even if they were perfectly ranked that would still not be good for overall market(s). The other problem is the whiners are so used to using SEO to abuse search engines, they haven't even been asking for a neutral, accurate search engine. Instead they want to carry on as usual, buying visibility, they just don't want Google doing it.

It's a mess but not one I see the complainants coming out ahead from because none of the solutions give them what they want, an even more broken system that happens to favour their interests.

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Re: vertical search?

> "Think that Google's position for the Internet is roughly similar to utility companies'. Imagine if water companies had the ability to simply turn the tap off to a business if they don't like it."

No. They can turn the tap off to a water *SUPPLIER*. The ultimate *consumer* is *not* restricted. Just unimaginative..

It's far, far worse than you imagine. Google is analogous to JUSTIN BIEBER!!!!!! It's famous. It continually dellivers 'high quality content', and people also go to it because all of their friends go to it, and it's never given people a reason to stop.

What you want to do is legislate on what products Justin Bieber can promote, or maybe stop him singing so much so other teen-idol wannabes can get a look-in. Now look further down that road. We're all going to hell people.

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Re: vertical search?

"t's far, far worse than you imagine. Google is analogous to JUSTIN BIEBER!!!!!! It's famous. It continually dellivers 'high quality content', and people also go to it because all of their friends go to it, and it's never given people a reason to stop."

No, that's not a good analogy. People will use Google because it's *good enough*. As long as people get what they want from Google they will continue using it. If some company doing online mapping is bankrupted because Google Maps is "good enough" and is massively promoted over other map websites, oh well, no need to worry. Unless of course we want any websites other than Google.

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Re: vertical search?

More than anything this is an attack by Microsoft to slow down Google so they can get to do the same stuff.

MS has always tried to get 50% of a market, then snipe away, but in this case, critical mass has been against them, and accuracy of data Now Bing isn't /that/ bad (not AS bad, but those google vs bing test is trivial to work out which site is which), MS are cranking up the attacks. Which, to be a bit fair to MS, they did get bashed over the head for their dominance and probably want everyone dragged down to their level.

But they're behind, and doing anything they can to knobble Google, and it looks like these funded 'fairsearch' organisations and the money being thrown about is working.

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Re: vertical search?

I check out Bing about monthly and Yahoo a bit less often and have yet to see a case where, with exactly the same search text, either of the also rans is better than Google. Once in a while one of them is as good, but usually they are slightly, but noticeably inferior. If one of them starts being better on a consistent basis they will gain market share; I'll not be holding my breath for that, however. In the unlikely event I conceive a need for vertical search, I will Google "<search argument> price comparison" and probably be well satisfied.

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Anonymous Coward

@Gideon 1 Re: vertical search?

What a load of rubbish. You think Google are running some kind of extortion racket where a they would care about a single small company enough to risk bringing down their own company for an extortion racket charge just because you said you didn't want their consultancy?

Google ring up companies all the time, they ring us up about every 6 months, and you don't see all these companies dropping off a cliff and their ad words shooting up. We never take up any consultancy as we run it in house but they always give us some free tips and advice, some times about changes to their new algorithms.

If you truly believe they have rolled you over, then report it to the EU, or take them to court, or contact Microsoft and they will help you out with some litigation. Report back on the forums how you get on. I'm guessing you don't because it never happened, but I'll keep my eye out to be proved wrong.

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Is this back to the days when a search result pointed to a different search result?

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Sorry but how is this meant to work ?

Should the results return random sites that also provide the same service ? i.e. if the search is about maps should it return half a dozen or whatever results of business's that sale map or map services ? If so then the top ones at the moment will be anywhere in the results.

If not then who decides who should be at the top of the results ?

I cant see how this could work to the satisfaction of everyone. Almost everyone will be unhappy with this. Either the same few will be there all the time as the biggest and most used or they will moan about smaller not so good companies in the results.

The only plus I can see is that Google may inproove their services even more to beat the rest...

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Re: Sorry but how is this meant to work ?

Work? WORK?!?! BWAHAHAHAHA! It's not meant to *work*!

As the research previously published showed, the person who controls the *format* of the alternatives is the one who decides which one gets clicked.

The hope is that people will discover and prefer alternatives. They are stirring the pot. The idea is a good one in principle. But ... people will *continue* to click on the leftmost. This results in randomly jagging people backwards and forwards through conflicting interfaces to the *same* data. The continued mental dissonace is just going to piss them off.

This also means that whoever controls the format controls the public/money. Hands up who thinks that will not end up being abused even worse than anyone thinks it already is now?

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Translation

EU comission (latin name: anti-democraticus-beaucrocasaurus-gargantuan-wastus) tells Google (Evilus-imperium-anti-competativus-monopoli) what to do.

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They should do this MS Browser Screen style.

Put an option in the user account settings saying "would you like us to point you at other search engines while you search?"

Then we can click the button marked "No thankyou. If I wanted another search engine I'd already be there."

Except Microsoft actually have an abusive monopoly that's only in a slight, remote danger of being corroded 30 years later thanks to throwaway toyslabs with nowhere near the utility of a PC, and Google don't. And Microsoft are one of the Fairsearch group. Go fucking figure.

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Black Helicopters

Re: They should do this MS Browser Screen style.

"Except Microsoft actually have an abusive monopoly that's only in a slight, remote danger of being corroded 30 years later thanks to throwaway toyslabs with nowhere near the utility of a PC, and Google don't."

No. Google instead have an abusive monopoly on our personal data and web use. Seriously, the entire SEO industry is built around what Google tell people to do - you never hear anyone worrying about their Bing or Duck Duck Go ranking, do you? Business success or failure does not depend on the architecture underlying it - the average member of the public doesn't care what technology stack the website they're buying from is built on. But to be able to determine where the customer goes to buy their goods... that's a far more dangerous and insideous thing for a single organisation to have a virtual monopoly on, especially if they can also track said customer's every move and habit.

But no, we're all so quick to demonise Microsoft, while Google quietly laugh to themselves and offer even more "free" stuff for them to track us with under a disguise of altruism.

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Devil

Re: They should do this MS Browser Screen style.

Mmm.. I smell uncontrolled emotion masquerading as righteous logic. My favourite!

> "No. Google instead have an abusive monopoly on our personal data and web use."

So, I can't give my personal data to anyone else because Google has it? Or do you just mean nobody else can track me with cookies? Which raw ingredients are Google keeping from their competitors? Or are you just complaining their cooks are too good?

> "But to be able to determine where the customer goes to buy their goods... that's a far more dangerous and insideous thing for a single organisation to have a virtual monopoly on"

So, you're saying, that when people ask Google for their opinion, you don't want them to get that opinion. Or are you saying people should not choose to go to Google? Your opinion on whose opinion is worth choosing overrides their opinion?

> "But no, we're all so quick to demonise Microsoft, while Google quietly laugh to themselves and offer even more "free" stuff for them to track us with under a disguise of altruism"

Yes, absolutely. Demonisation is bad... Oh, no, sorry, demonisation is GOOD.. Preach it brother!!!

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Boffin

Re: They should do this MS Browser Screen style.

I smell someone who hasn't seen - or chosen to ignore - the point I was trying to make.

>> "No. Google instead have an abusive monopoly on our personal data and web use."

>So, I can't give my personal data to anyone else because Google has it? Or do you just mean nobody else can track me with cookies? Which raw ingredients are Google keeping from their competitors? Or are you just complaining their cooks are too good?

I never said that. You are completely free to give your personal data to whoever you choose. My point was that the whole industry of SEO is built around trying to get a website as high as possible up the Google rankings - thus when Google says "jump", everyone in SEO is off the ground before asking how high... or risks losing their precious ranking. And this is a standard Google dictates - it is entirely plausible (however unlikely) that Google may make a change which contradicts rules on other search engines, causing companies to lose ranking on other search engines in order to maintain their Google rating. Will anyone in SEO care that their site has dropped five places on Duck Duck Go? I doubt it.

>> "But to be able to determine where the customer goes to buy their goods... that's a far more dangerous and insideous thing for a single organisation to have a virtual monopoly on"

>So, you're saying, that when people ask Google for their opinion, you don't want them to get that opinion. Or are you saying people should not choose to go to Google? Your opinion on whose opinion is worth choosing overrides their opinion?

Again, I never said that. And if we could guarantee that Google's opinion was fair and unbiased then I would be unconcerned. But by their control of SEO, and by virtue of being the leading search engine, Google have the capacity to display misleading or self-serving information when someone is asking for an opinion. That is the danger, and I would not want to see it in the hands of any monopoly, as I don't believe any single organisation of that size could resist abusing that power. For example (and to remove Google from the equation in this instance), look at the incident where Siri started reporting that the Nokia Lumia was the best smartphone ever - now how do you suppose Apple stopped that from happening?

And yes, I deliberately picked that example to try to reduce the knee-jerk "Google are never evil" reaction that is so prevalent these days. I'm not saying that Google is the spawn of satan, nor that Microsoft are champions of all that is right and good - I've been around too long for that. What I'm saying is that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and too many people on here are so busy getting every last pound of flesh out of something that has already taken a thorough kicking that they don't see something that has the potential to be every bit as bad rapidly encroaching.

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Holmes

Dominant != Abusive

Having a fond association with abusive dominance, while being unpopular with those I wish to attract, I can provide a balanced opinion...

"Dominant search position" is not something that Google has forced on users. The users have put Google in that position. If the users feel that this position unjustified, they can easily go elsewhere. Having a choice of media to advertise in, obvious medium to go for is one with a dominant position. Exactly who is abusing who I can not tell.

Now these folks at alternative search engines to compete with Google need to be more popular and offer better returns from their advertising subscribers...different tackle is required..some leather-and-whips sort of abusive dominance....AKA Joaquin Almunia

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We're sanctioning google because they hurt "vertical search" companies?

We should be congratulating them for killing those worthless linkfarms!

I have _never_ viewed a "vertical search" site and not immediately hit back, annoyed that instead of getting to a relevant result, I clicked a link going to a results page on another search engine - and guess what? Their results are ALWAYS worse, usually much worse.

If these competing search engines weren't worse than google, I'd use them. But they are worse - and usually much worse. I can't escape the conclusion that the outcome of this will be that google will be required to show less-relevant search results - to degrade the quality of the service provided to consumers - to help half-assed domestic businesses to sell an inferior product.

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I made EU a website, but EU eated it.

I maded a book, and I filled it with what I saw in the playground.

Then Teacher came in, and told me I was bad, because people were reading my book , and not other kids books about the things in the playground.

The Teacher is counting to 10.

She says if I don't fix it, she will take my book away and let the other kids write in it.

Daddy, what did I do wrong?

Did I make my book too big?

Should I only write about one thing in a book?

Should I talk about the other kids books in my book?

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Re: I made EU a website, but EU eated it.

No, but you shouldn't barge to the front of the queue whenever someone wants to read a book.

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How can the EU preach to Google when

The EU preach their unjust morals on a European population that didn't have a say in joining them in the first place and preach their unjust rules across the continent?

I remember the UK joining up to a common EU market NOT a common lifestyle and corrupt rules

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transparency would help.

for example when buying tyres amongst the results

"google billed MyTyres.com £1450.00 last year".

"google billed BlackCircles.com £2.345 last year" etc.

would remind us of why we see these companies on our screen

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Hi Guys,

its simple just put the original radio buttons back and your 50% on your way back to being trust-worthy.

The UK only, Ireland Only, Scotland Only, Wales Only, France Only, Italy Only Spain Only, Germany Only.

Australia Only, New Zealand Only, etc etc etc Then right next to it World Wide Radio button.

The radio buttons helped local competition stand out and get recognised and get much needed traffic.

Why on earth anybody would remove them after so many years of having them around can only be summarised as anticompetitive manoeuvres or ignorance.

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