Re: Euro Jealousy
Actually, most people doing a web search are indirectly forced to use Google. And Yahoo. And Bing. And so on. Because all major search engines cross-reference each other. Yahoo search checks back on Google. Bing is Yahoo anyway. AskJeeves uses both to get its results, and so on.
The problem here is the weighting of the results. Google naturally wants to promote its money-making divisions, so places its own services higher up in the result listing even if they are less relevant than other companies' services. You will hardly ever do a search through Google and find Vimeo's or other online video service's items placed before YouTube offerings, even if they are clearly more relevant to the search, and the Google-internal results are often "optimised" so that any search results hosted by other companies are off the first page of results.
Most people don't even look at the second page at all. So the contention here is that Google is using its market-leading position by using simple psychology to generate more business for itself to the detriment of other companies.
If you look at the underlying situation, telling people "if you don't like it don't use it" does not work, because the average computer user does not even know there are alternatives to using Google, as evidenced by people actually saying they are going to "google" something when in fact they mean to say they are going to do a web search. Google has bought its way into many software/browser suppliers' standard search engine spot. The readership of El Reg is not anywhere near the average end-user, mind you.
Much like Microsoft promoted Internet Exploder in the 1990s by chucking it in with Windows and NT as a non-uninstallable component and pre-installed web browser, the mechanism at work is that most people simply use what is pre-installed and don't even consider the possibility that they are being ripped off. It came with the computer/browser, it works for most people's purposes (finding stuff on the 'net), and that's it.
With this, I find it nice to see that the Mozilla foundation are switching to a different default search engine, though I would personally prefer all browser suppliers to offer the user a choice of standard search engines on first use of the browser, much like Microsoft has been forced to do with browser choices for all version of Windows to be sold within the EU.
Once more, the problem is that the market position of Google is such that most people don't even know there is an alternative; the EU, if I understand it correctly, wants to find a way to remedy that. Whether the proposal discussed in the article will achieve that, I severely doubt, but it is a beginning.
Hey... Saturday already -- time for a beer.