back to article Google hit with record antitrust fine of €2.4bn by Europe

Google was today hit with a record antitrust fine of €2.42bn (£2.1bn) from the European Union today for promoting its own shopping search service over those of smaller rivals. The regulator found that Google had abused its market dominance as a search engine "by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its …

Anonymous Coward

Re: Ouch!

"Google? Just say no (like Drugs)"

and what... use Bing... because there are no ads on Bing and Microsoft has a history of not abusing dominant market positions (cough... Netscape).

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The commission has been accused of disproportionately targeting US tech companies. Since 2000, European regulators have investigated Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon.

Well, as most of the larger internet companies are US based, that's hardly surprising.

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Headmaster

Re: "Well, as most of the larger internet companies are US based...."

If the US security obsessives have their way and all such companies have to report home to Uncle Sam whenever the NSA, FBI, CIA and Homeland Security et al want them to that unique dominance of a multibillion dollar industry is going to go down the flusher in no time flat. However, of course you are quite right about the current situation. Any attempt (currently) to claim that these poor American corporates are being unfairly picked on is risible. They are the largest part of the market - until the barking wing of the US politics and security apparatus destroys it of course.

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Europeans are just too dumb to make something like google. Google started in in 1998 with a few AIX servers and private financing from people like Jeff Bezos with close to $ 1,000,000,- start capital.

Today their market cap exceeds $600,000,000,000.

The average European banker or millionaire asked for a loan of a million by Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt in 1998 to found an online search company "that gives away things for free" would have probably called the cops to have them locked up in a mental hospital surrounded by high fences.

Google changed the world in a very positive manner, contrary to Intel and Microsoft, who abused their monopolies to endlessly milk the world like it is a cow and facilitate widespread governmental spying on citizens. The commission should perhaps check if they are not too much under control of MS lobby bots.

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Trollface

@naive

You are well named Sir.

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Google changed the world in a very positive manner, contrary to Intel and Microsoft

So much wrong and right in the same sentence. In their own way each of those companies has been very positive for the world. But they have also been wont to abuse their monopolies. This is why anti-trust laws and the regulators that enforce them exist.

But if you want to look at unfair treatment: you might want to look at the record of fines imposed by the various US regulators, almost always without admission of guilt, in the financial and automotive industries.

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tp2

European competition

> Europeans are just too dumb to make something like google.

Well, I have some web site at https://meshpage.org which can compete against youtube in technology. Too bad there's no way to get any users to actually visit the site. Even if the tech would be good enough, getting the user base is next to impossible.

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Anonymous Coward

@naive,

Google changed the world in a very positive manner,

No, they had one slightly clever idea slightly before everyone else, and ever since they've been hell bent on screwing as much cash as possible out of it whilst they can. They've run rings round several competition regulators the world over, but haven't been able to find a lever to control the unelected, and therefore unsackable, EU body. This is a good thing.

Americans complaining able the EU's treatment of Google shows how good a job Google has done of hood winking the American population. Same goes for Apple. Google are an active lobbyist, and were deeply embedded in the Obama administration (seemingly even getting involved in running the US foreign policy!), and I dare say there's many an effort to influence, even if indirectly, the Trump regime.

I wonder how Google are going for explain the progress of their current corporate strategy to their shareholders?

contrary to Intel and Microsoft

I remember at least MS being forced to de-monopolise. I'm sure they got sued in the US for monopoly abuse. The difference today is that there's no sign of the US authorities looking at Google...

Europeans are just too dumb to make something like google.

Really? An alternative view might be that Americans are just too dumb to stop something like Google existing, and are quite happy to let corporate greed govern every aspect of their lives at their own expense. Google is not free, you're paying for every single bit of it through the price bump on goods you buy caused by advertising overheads...

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Linux

"Google started in in 1998 with a few AIX servers".

Well not really, using the Wiki we get this, and running Linux from the very beginning of course.

"Original hardware

The original hardware (circa 1998) that was used by Google when it was located at Stanford University included:[3]

Sun Microsystems Ultra II with dual 200 MHz processors, and 256 MB of RAM. This was the main machine for the original Backrub system.

2 × 300 MHz dual Pentium II servers donated by Intel, they included 512 MB of RAM and 10 × 9 GB hard drives between the two. It was on these that the main search ran.

F50 IBM RS/6000 donated by IBM, included 4 processors, 512 MB of memory and 8 × 9 GB hard disk drives. ......................."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Data_Centers

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"Google changed the world in a very positive manner,"

Google won the search engine battle by being less scummy and working better than the competition. The less scummy bit is now fully rescinded.

Also there is nothing positive about advertising - it is a parasitic disease. We consumers pay for every bit of it and almost none of it does us any good.

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Anonymous Coward

Americans complaining able the EU's treatment of Google shows how good a job Google has done of hood winking the American population. Same goes for Apple.

In which way has Apple hoodwinked the population in a manner similar to Google? Just curious.

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Anonymous Coward

IBM RS/6000 donated by IBM

That throws me back a few years. Someone gave me a busted one and I used as a doorstop for years to annoy the IBM sales reps who kept trying to sell us stuff :).

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It was Google's simple interface that won them market share over the other players at the time, and in the early days the search function was pretty good at find stuff.

It's a bloody mess these days.

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It was Google's simple interface

Nope, they were all pretty much the same at the time. What Google got right was dealing with scammers in the days when Altavista, Excite, Yahoo, et al. were starting to drown in spam. And this is what they've continued to work on because knowing that they provide users with relevant search results is a huge advantage when it comes to selling adverts.

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Re: European competition

"

Too bad there's no way to get any users to actually visit the site.

"

Well, you could always *advertise* the site.

But of course - you think advertising is evil and would therefore never use it ...

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"

Also there is nothing positive about advertising - it is a parasitic disease.

"

I disagree. While 99.9% of the advertising I see is of no interest to me whatsoever, I have learned of many great products that I had not known existed in the remaining 0.1%. So long as they are not too intrusive, adverts cause me no harm at all.

If you were to invent a really great device that many people would benefit from, just how would you make people aware of it without some form of advertising?

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Simple

> If you were to invent a really great device that many people would benefit from, just how would you make people aware of it without some form of advertising?

You'd show it to your friends, who'd be so bowled over that they all buy one and show it to their friends...

A bit like the way that Marks and Spencer dominated the high streets of Great Britain in the 20th century without using advertising. (M&S do advertise nowadays, is it helping them now?)

Another example: I've never seen a advertisement for a "fidget spinner", but as soon as I'd seen one I went straight to a toy shop to buy one for my grandson. He was delighted, even though he wasn't aware of them until that moment.

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"Nope, they were all pretty much the same at the time. "

I don't know what you were looking at at the time, but I have to disagree. I worked at an ISP when Google launched and the brand logo plus search box on a white page literally won people over instantly. I also used to like the 'lucky dip' option which could take you to some very odd places. Wouldn't dare use it now of course.

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Re: European competition

"Well, I have some web site at https://meshpage.org which can compete against youtube in technology."

No.

Not really.

Browser: SLOW (webassembly missing => asmjs fallback used)

At which point your site tried to hit me with around 14MB of JavaScript. Two minutes later, was still waiting. I gave up. My rural broadband is pretty lame, but I ought to be able to pull 14MB much faster than that.

YouTube, in technology, doesn't complain that my browser doesn't support certain recent features - it still has Flash as a playback option if the HTML5 video isn't supported. It also gets itself going fairly quickly.

I also wonder how that site and its bandwidth would scale if there were twenty billion kitten videos and one Korean bloke that broke all the counters...

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"Nope, they were all pretty much the same at the time. What Google got right was dealing with scammers in the days when Altavista,"

Google was much faster. Not at searching...well, it might have been, but nobody is going to care about a few milliseconds when it takes a minute to get the bloated page into your computer. Google's page was small, concise, and exactly streamlined for the internet as it was back then - through dial up modems running at speeds that ... wait... doesn't the girl in the movie "Hackers" gush over a computer that is now comically obsolete?

So as a person with a dial up to a point of presence, there was a notable difference in Google and Altavista. Altavista was more powerful with its boolean operators, but Google was so very much faster. I look at Google's page now, and it seems like a joke. And as for the searches? Google is getting much better at failing to find what I'm looking for, and when in doubt, it'll offer a bunch of irrelevant StackOverflow links...

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Anonymous Coward

"In which way has Apple hoodwinked the population in a manner similar to Google? Just curious.

Let's see: Apple's walled garden; you can never leave. Apple actively blocks attempts to open up the iOS platform. There's no competition in the iOS space against Apple services. Apple takes a fixed cut (30%?) of app sales, and of in-app purchases, and does not permit any other source of software. You don't own music you've spent money on. These days iTunes by default deletes media files you already have, it's then all streamed from their cloud, meaning your option for leaving their ecosystem has been erased. This new behaviour was rolled out effectively unannounced on the unsuspecting user base, and caused some recording artists to lose their master copies, all in the name of Apple getting yet more control over your stuff. At the same time they use their control of the music market on iDevices to set the prices charged to punters, and the money paid to artists. Apple charges $100s for storage costing $1s, with base spec devices often unable to accept larger updates without major effort. They keep some APIs private to itself, preventing third party app developers competing against Apple. They do not honour statutory warranty periods (that's one for Europe actually, warranties in the USA seem to be generally pretty shit and pathetic). They actively block attempts at third party repairs through software updates that deliberately bork devices. They're prone to dismissing fundamental design flaws as "you're not holding it right" whilst refusing to accept that the device they sold you could not in fact be used as a phone without extra equipment, even if that was just a bump cover. I've no particular problem with the price they charge for iDevices (apart from unbelievable incremements for a few extra gigs of FLASH) - it's written on the price label. But once you've bought it, there's lots of ways you're paying through the nose for things that you have no choice about.

And that's just the personal, guy on the street customer stuff. Let's talk about the corporate dominance. Apple used its corporate might to force GT Advanced Technologies into bankruptcy, putting American people out of American jobs. Arguably GT A.T. were unwise to take on the risk, but as a tiny player in comparison to the size of Apple they were in no position to negotiate reasonable terms in chasing a make-or-break deal, and got left holding the costs when Apple dropped them. They've just done for Imagination (British people in British jobs). Sharp Displays came close to the same fate (Japanese people in Japanese jobs). They bought PA Semi, and refused to honour prior commitments until Uncle Sam pointed out that some of those commitments were to the US military, and that they would be forced to honour those commitments by the US Government. The only light relief in that particular episode was that Apple bought PA Semi primarily for the engineers (old DEC silicon engineers, bloody good they were too), who to a man/woman said "fuck you" to Apple, left, set up another startup called Agnilux which then got bought by Google for yet another undisclosed (but probably quite large) sum. Well done them. But in general the advice these days is, "Don't do business with Apple".

Apple play the international tax system very well, and whilst not actually doing anything illegal they use all sorts of tricks to ensure that it can pay US shareholders some sort of dividend whilst not paying any tax to the US government. Or to any Government. Arguably this is costing every man, woman and child in the USA approximately $280 in extra tax (estimated $215billion held abroad. If repatriated that'd be taxed at 40%, or about $86billion. Estimated population of the USA, 300million. 86bill/300mill = $286) they have to pay because Apple isn't paying any themselves. When you consider that perhaps 50% of the population is a bread winner, they're in effect paying $560 in extra tax; about the price of a new iPhone. And if I recall correctly the trick they use involves the US tax payer handing out a tax rebate to Apple on loans they use to pay that dividend, so it's worse even than that.

And then there's the fact that, whilst Apple have well in excess of $200billion in banks all over the world and they have no idea what to do with it, they are steadfastly refusing to hand anything but a small amount of that over to shareholders as dividends. A lot of shareholders are ultimately American pension schemes and they could really do with the cash to pay pensions to pensioners, even give the oldies a rise, but Apple is one of the most reluctant dividend payers out there. What do they do with it? Buy gold coins and swim in it, like that cartoon duck? They spend hardly any of it on developing new product, and look like wasting a bunch on jumping on the self driving car bandwagon.

Google is a bit more subtle - they rip you off indirectly through the power they have in the advertising market driven by their data slurp...

With both Google's and Apple's dominance of the mobile world, there is no normal competition. They're both absolute monopolies within their own ecosystems. Customers cannot force Google and Apple to compete against each other on price, as customers cannot abandon one walled garden and take everything over to a different walled garden; they're stuck. Bought a load of Android apps? You'd have to buy them all over again on iOS. Bought a load of music on iTunes? You can't take any of it to Android.

There are some attempts at competing; Spotify is one, but they're at a massive disadvantage compared to Apple and Google. I've yet to hear of them making a ton of cash. Amazon do quite well - they're another huge company of course - but they're having their own distorting impact on the retail market.

People should question the social worth of companies like this. They take a lot of money off you for services and devices that, were there to be effective competition, would be a lot cheaper. They spend some of that money abroad getting devices made by cheap labour in China, but even fail to enrich those poor people in any meaningful way. They make a huge amount of foreign profit, but then bend over backwards to ensure that the US tax payer and US shareholder gets little benefit from it.

This all adds up to a vast amount of money being taken out of the economy, and not being put back into it. With less money circulating through the economy, everyone loses out. Where is the social worth in that? Why do you let them do that to you?

Now if you can find any "ordinary" Apple user who looks at Apple and sees "corporate greed" or makes a connection to their tax bill, I'd be surprised. The more common reaction is "Apple is cool". That's a pretty staggering level of hoodwinking.

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If you were to invent a really great device...

What percentage of all advertising is a recently invented really great products that most people haven't heard of yet, versus the assortment of me-too products that bring nothing new to the table, useless products that bring nothing at all to the table, assorted scams that are a drain on society, or worst of all, political ads?

I'd say about 0.1% or so is really great product you haven't heard of, at a guess. And I'm probably overestimating at that!

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@AC

Apple has about 15% of smartphone market share, so it is no way comparable to Android's 85% share in terms of market dominance. You don't like the walled garden, no one is keeping you there.

As for the 30% cut, maybe you should check Google's cut of app store revenue? Yep, same 30%...

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"adverts cause me no harm at all."

Apart from making everything you buy several percent more expensive? Where do you think the $90 billion a year google gets comes from?

Thought I should find and example - 2014 Proctor & Gamble spent $3.1 billion on advertising of about $80 billion turnover - about 3.8%.

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Questioning social worth

"That's a pretty staggering level of hoodwinking."

Well done, AC

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC

@Doug S,

"Apple has about 15% of smartphone market share, so it is no way comparable to Android's 85% share in terms of market dominance. You don't like the walled garden, no one is keeping you there."

Apart from all the non-tangibles that you can't take with you when you leave the walled garden (e.g. potentially hundreds of dollars worth of music, films, apps, etc), no there's nothing stopping anyone leaving. How many people do you know who have actually undergone the change over?

"As for the 30% cut, maybe you should check Google's cut of app store revenue? Yep, same 30%..."

Oh absolutely, they're completely just as bad. I'm certainly not defending Google's practises. Arguably their control over 85% of the mobile market makes it even worse.

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The average US startup burns through its seed capital and has nothing to show for it at the end of the exercise. Being an entrepreneur is hard.

Intel and Microsoft also changed the world for good. If you are too young and uninformed to remember or know how, I suggest you do some reading up on how the world was back then. If they have both become fat and lazy and exploitative in recent years, well they are in good company: Google have gone the same way.

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Re: If you were to invent a really great device...

@Doug S

"What percentage of all advertising is a recently invented really great products that most people haven't heard of yet, versus the assortment of me-too products that bring nothing new to the table, useless products that bring nothing at all to the table, assorted scams that are a drain on society, or worst of all, political ads?

I'd say about 0.1% or so is really great product you haven't heard of, at a guess. And I'm probably overestimating at that!"

Your analysis is probably right. Advertising is, to some extent, corporate blackmail. "If you don't advertise with us, we'll make sure that your competitor does". I'm sure it's not said like that, but that's what all publicity departments feel like.

The problem these days is that Google and everyone else have invented a whole new vast array of "places" where adverts can appear. Pre-Internet, there were only so many bill boards, only so many magazines / newspapers, only so many TV channels / ad stops mid show. Nowadays there's practically every single web page on the bleedin' planet, with the notable exception of Wikipedia and the BBC. Google of course are responsible for a big chunk of that; too responsible in fact, according to today's ruling and €2.4billion fine from the EU.

According to the UK Internet Advertising Bureau here UK online advertising is approx £7billion per year. Acknowledging that all advertising is ultimately paid for by consumers, performing some crude calculations on that is quite revealing. £7billion / 60million people = £116 per person per year. Working that out for just wage earners, I reckon that's close to £280 per year, extra money spent on things we buy simply because they're advertised online. Apparently non-internet advertising is about another £7billion, so all told we're spending something like £560 per year just on being advertised at.

Of course, that's a crude analysis, but it's kinda hard to argue with. Advertising doesn't look like good value for money when looked at that way. If one were to ask anyone on the street whether they'd pay £280 per year to use Google search, maps, mail and a few other websites, having already spent £700 on a phone, I doubt there'd be many takers.

I'd quite happily pay £12 per year to use El Reg, ad free. I bet that'd be more than the dear old thing earns from me through ads (and I mostly don't run an ad blocker on El Reg).

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@Ken Hagan,

Intel and Microsoft also changed the world for good. If you are too young and uninformed to remember or know how, I suggest you do some reading up on how the world was back then. If they have both become fat and lazy and exploitative in recent years, well they are in good company: Google have gone the same way.

At least AMD seem to be giving Intel a hard run for their money again. Competition there is good at the moment. Intel have totally failed to dominate the mobile CPU market. MS dominated with Windows, NT, domains, and then Active Directory. The fact that they got forced to open up those protocols (for a modest fee) was a good thing. The Samba team got the funds together, and that means that there is now an increasingly viable alternative to Windows Server for domain administration. That too is a good thing. MS office doc formats are publicly available, another good thing they were forced to do.

My point is that, yes, Intel and MS have pretty strong positions, but there has been regulatory intervention, even in the USA. Whether there's been enough or not, I don't know. However with Google there's seemingly nothing they can do that annoys the US regulators, which seems worse than the situation we had / have with MS/Intel.

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Dumb eh?

A simple quiz

Who invented the World Wide Web - Europeans or Americans?

Who invented TV - Europeans or Americans?

Who invented antibiotics - Europeans or Americans?

Who invented the magnetron (short wave RADAR) - Europeans or Americans?

Who invented the transformer which enabled electricity to be shifted great distances - Europeans or Americans?

Who invented the jet engine - Europeans or Americans?

Who invented the worlds first electronic programmable computer - Europeans or Americans?

Who invented the worlds first electronic general purpose business computer - Europeans or Americans?

Who invented railways - Europeans or Americans?

Who invented the electric motor - Europeans or Americans?

Who split the atom - Europeans or Americans?

Where would the US be without all of the above? The list could be ten times longer but I got bored...

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And this is what they've continued to work on because knowing that they provide users with relevant search results is a huge advantage when it comes to selling adverts.

Except today so much of their stuff is completely irrelevant and often not even close to what you want.

So often I search for an exact phrase (eg you could "put a sentence in quotes" and it would search for that exact phrase) and get nothing back that includes the text I am searching for, even though I know that exact text exists (I have sometimes found it several pages in, where it should be the first quote). You used to be able to do +word searches and that would mean "word" (or phrase as above) would have to appear on the page, so 'cheap +dell laptop +"new zealand" '1 would give you search results for cheap laptops, that were made by Dell and for sale in NZ. Nowadays you get all sorts of junk tossed at you rather than what you want (you can select the country-specific location of course which helps at times).

1 Search term is an example only, I've tried searching for more obscure stuff without much luck.

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Re: Simple

If you were to invent a really great device that many people would benefit from, just how would you make people aware of it without some form of advertising?

You'd show it to your friends, who'd be so bowled over that they all buy one and show it to their friends...

Which is advertising. It's called "word of mouth" and is the one form of advertising I respect - someone buys a product, tries it, and tells their friends about it because they believe the product is that good (vs a salesrep who often has no clue what they're talking about, is only there for the money, and would throw their grandmother/spouse/kids/pets into the offer if they thought they'd get a quick(er) buck)

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And as for the searches? Google is getting much better at failing to find what I'm looking for, and when in doubt, it'll offer a bunch of irrelevant StackOverflow links...

Y'know what, I think I've just figured out what is broken with Google's search..

They have far to many pages in there, and one of the servers in the chain isn't handling that at all well. So when it gets a search query it starts to give off relevant results, the stuff loading into it's RAM gets too much, and it gets a "stack overflow error". Which it passes along in what would be a beautifully formed results string except it's incomplete and broken. However the next machine down the line is somewhat fault tolerant, sees the words "stack overflow", sees a site named "stackoverflow", puts 2 and 7 together and (through Google logic) comes up with 98.775, and proceeds to spew Stackoverflow pages into the results that are then fed to you.

Now lets hope they can find the offending server, fix their once great search engine, and get us back to finding the sites we want in the first result instead of the one and only site that matches our search terms being the last result on page 9,912.

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Re: Simple

"Which is advertising. It's called "word of mouth" and is the one form of advertising"

Advertising :-

"the act or practice of calling public attention to one's product, service, need, etc., especially by paid announcements in newspapers and magazines, over radio or television, on billboards, etc.:"

Showing a friend someone else's product without pay isn't advertising.

A world without advertising would be great (except for those in the shitty business). Information on products and services would still be available. The difference is you would have to want to see it, not have it stuffed in your face or be induced with bribes.

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Here's on "Yank" who is cheering and throwing popcorn in the air.

The only thing I have to pick about is I don't think the fine is nearly big enough, by at least an order of magnitude.

Ever since Google morphed into a subset of Alphabet the philosophy embodied in the statement "First, do no harm" has gone out the window in the pursuit of ever more profit, no matter who is harmed or how badly.

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Re: Simple

Hmm..

Two can play at "shove something into google and see what comes out"... :)

"When was the last time you told a friend about a good movie? You may not have realized it at the time, but you were providing the best possible advertising for the movie studio..."Word-Of-Mouth" advertising.

No other type of advertising is more powerful than word of mouth. Your friend may have dismissed all the typical Hollywood hype but they know you as a friend and respect your judgment."

(from http://www.smalltownmarketing.com/wordofmouth.html)

That one alone shows what I was saying, and this being from one of those advertising-promoting-howto sites! So there's at least someone out there who agrees that word-of-mouth is advertising, despite what you found at dictionary.com..

From Forbes you get :

"Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM). Isn’t this really the original social media platform? I grew up with the famous Faberge commercial that showed a woman who “told 2 friends” about the product and how “they told 2 friends … and so on … and so on”. Hasn’t WOM always been a powerful way to influence business results?"

(https://www.forbes.com/sites/kimberlywhitler/2014/07/17/why-word-of-mouth-marketing-is-the-most-important-social-media/#5a47a8cc54a8)

And another one (much more I could've used but these will do) from businessdictionary.com :

"word of mouth marketing : Oral or written recommendation by a satisfied customer to the prospective customers of a good or service. Considered to be the most effective form of promotion, it is also called word of mouth advertising which is incorrect because, by definition, advertising is a paid and non-personal communication."

( http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/word-of-mouth-marketing.html

They actually agree with you that WOM is "not advertising", but for most of my life I've known it that, from the Faberge commercial mentioned by Forbes and many other places from my childhood and youth. When I did some business computing studies while trying to figure out where I wanted to go in life we had some sessions on marketing and the university lecturers called in to lecture refered to WOM as "advertising".

Actually from the businessdictionary.com reference, I guess the "targeted advertising" we're seeing cannot be "advertising" because it is a form of personal communication (ie the ads in that page are personally targeted at you because Amazon believes you want another lawnmower like the one you brought last week) - they define it as "non-personal". Though the definition you quoted didn't limit to that, they used an interesting keyword that means my use of the term is still valid by that definition, "...especially by paid...".

[El reg please get rid of that annoying bloody captcha crapola!. I 've been trying to get past that fucking thing for more than 20 minutes but the stupid shit just keeps going back to the verify page! A very unprofessional look for a tech site! I know my system has no malware on it. I've tried rebooting my router and at this stage am now posting to a VPN I've been playing with just so I can post. FFS El Reg, you're better than this shit! And I know I'm not the only one who gets trouble from it and annoyed by it! </pissed off rant>]

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Anonymous Coward

"No, they had one slightly clever idea slightly before everyone else, and ever since they've been hell bent on screwing as much cash as possible out of it whilst they can."

That's not true. Their algorithm, Back rub, and method of search was completely novel. True they were not the first search engine, but the underpinnings were unique which is why they came to dominate a saturated market. Their method of online ads sales was also unique. They churn out a ton of innovation... and give it way via open source. Hadoop was based on Google's GFS, TensorFlow is the ML standard... came from Google, Dremel, Kubernetes, Jupiter, Spanner, etc.... You would be hard pressed to come up with a more inventive company.

On "screwing cash", how much money have you paid Google in your life? Ballpark number.

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Anonymous Coward

"I remember at least MS being forced to de-monopolise."

Yeah, there were huge changes that came out of the MS anti-trust trials. Remember when Microsoft was forced to give a copy of Windows to Steve Ballmer and another copy of Windows to Bill Gates after the anti-trust lawsuits. That drove down the price of Windows to practically nothing. Crazy to think that everyone used to pay $100-200 for a copy of Windows. Also, remember when they were forced to adhere to open standards in Office which caused a huge number of people to use Libre and open source alternatives instead of paying for MS Office. Crazy to think that there was a time when everyone just about had to buy MS Office to avoid format incompatibilities. The government really cracked down on them. I mean, imagine if in 2017 Windows still dominated PC OSs and Office dominated productivity. I know, it's difficult to imagine.

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@AC

That was nicely done, should've used your handle so the upvote would count :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re. Google's "empty" page

@Sir Runcible Spoon

Wouldn't dare use it now of course.

You'd be right. Here's a fun exercise: have a look at the source code behind that empty page. If you print it out in a readable format you easily get to 40 pages of A4 or more (I didn't, but I ran a PDF because I wanted to know).

I have an image of a 40 page stack of paper that I use in presentations to illustrate just how much junk/spyware can hide behind a seemingly empty page...

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I don't know what you were looking at at the time, but I have to disagree.

Mainly Altavista but I switched to Google fairly early (as a result of a story on BeDope IIRC) because Google was providing the more relevant results as the others drowned in smut.

I'm not saying that Google's focus on speed wasn't important, because it was and is, but it was the quality of the search results that convinced users to switch and stay (no one has since been able to provide a significantly better search).

Altavista 1999 about 100 KB.

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Re: Re. Google's "empty" page

Here's a fun exercise: have a look at the source code behind that empty page.

Fun? No. Try SCARY!

IIRC it was several KB of CSS alone. FOR. AN. EMPTY. PAGE.

They talk about sites being "mobile friendly" and how Google punishes those that aren't, yet in many parts of the world mobile data is still expensive and their CSS alone is larger than many pages, or at least so it seems.

I didn't go with PDF or anything to check the size, but I did find it out when I was looking to create a business version of their page. Settled for another search firm instead, with much less page load.

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Silver badge

I don't recall that at all. You still have to click down to page 23 to find what you were looking for (OK maybe if you were on altavista it was page 24). But the search engines were all full of clickbait and spam. Not sure that it is any better today except that we are no longer prepared to look down to page 23 or wherever and just accept whatever dross appears on p1-2.

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Coat

Re: If you were to invent a really great device...

"If one were to ask anyone on the street whether they'd pay £280 per year to use Google search, maps, mail and a few other websites, having already spent £700 on a phone, I doubt there'd be many takers."

There. Fixed that for you.

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Anonymous Coward

"Intel and Microsoft also changed the world for good."

How? How did Microsoft "change the world for good"? If they had not ripped off Windows from Apple (yes, I know Apple ripped it off from PARC), Apple would have provided a better version of Windows. If not Apple, IBM would have.... IBM did come out with a better version, OS/2, but MSFT already had the developers on board Windows. Office was a rip off from Lotus 1-2-3, WordPerfect and others. PowerPoint was an acquisition. MS SQL wasn't even a rip off... they straight up paid to copy Sybase. C# and .NET are Java rip offs. Windows Server was wholesale lifted from DEC VMS, or the decent parts. IE was lifted from Mosaic (and made worse)... Everything that Microsoft 'created' would have certainty existed, probably in better form, if they had not existed... and likely would have been less costly. I cannot think of a single technology that MSFT has ever released where they were first or had a single original thought ever. Whenever Microsoft tries to come up with an idea on their own, you get Windows 8.

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Re: El Reg, ad free

"I'd quite happily pay £12 per year to use El Reg, ad free. I bet that'd be more than the dear old thing earns from me through ads"

Ditto. A quid or two per month would be fine.

Extra quids are on offer for simple HTML without clickalyzers or other third-party connections, but that's quite unrealistic in this day and age.

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Meh

With friends like these …

The full list of outfits egging Commissioner Vestager on: Disconnect, Inc., Getty Images, Inc., News Corporation, News Media Alliance, Oracle Corporation, Trip.com, and Yelp Inc. There's not an anticompetitive bone in any of their bodies, I'm sure.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: With friends like these …

"There's not an anticompetitive bone in any of their bodies, I'm sure."

Exactly. I think that is what bothers me about this. Oracle and the Murdoch right wing news empire is on the other side of it. Kind of makes you want to side with Google.

All this just seems so arbitrary too. They did nothing about Microsoft with Windows in the 90s, and today. That was far more egregious than Google promoting their own shopping listings... and $2.7 billion... seriously? For promoting shopping listings. Also, who goes to Google to look for different models of grills or shoes. They go to Amazon.

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Thumb Up

The aftermath will be interesting

In my eyes, it's nice to see the EU show some guts or - proverbial I guess - balls. Good job Vestager.

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Re: The aftermath will be interesting

Thank goodness we're leaving them. We can't have our tax dodging, monopoly abusing friends treated like this.

Feel free to expand further in the UK, in fact why not just buy Shitditch? We'll refund any money you spend and lets forget any of this nastiness and silly little things like taxes.

Yours

The UK.

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