back to article Google versus the EU: Sigh. You can't exploit a contestable monopoly

So, the EU Commission is going to call Google in and give it a really hard talking to for offering what Google's users rather like to have. And if they decide that, well, Google has been giving the consumers what the consumers desire, good and hard, then they're going to fine the Chocolate Factory up to 10 per cent of global …

Anonymous Coward

Re: I used to trust them.

Was that really so awful when it was ignorant people who figuratively left their own front door open?

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Nice try Tim

A shame the Right seems to have a monopoly on economic comment pieces on The Reg these days...

However I'm afraid your thesis ignores the huge barriers to entry Google and its brethren shelter behind. Like paying minimal tax, which a British competitor would struggle to achieve. Or having a massive war chest with which to acquire competitors with better people and ideas.

Capitalism is supposed to be about a constant churn of creative destruction and fierce competition where no company gets to be dominant for long. Yet your assumption seems to be that tech is a special case where global economies of scale lead to inevitable monopoly or oligopoly and that we should simply accept it. There'll always be a Microsoft at top until a Google supplants them; the market dominance is the same but the logo is different.

Doesn't it worry you as a good capitalist that business owners are able to extract such huge profits from companies on a 10 year dominance cycle? Aren't you disturbed that Google's business model is to monetise user data for which they receive software-in-kind in a value exchange entirely determined by the supplier rather than the consumer? Or that Google freerides on the infrastructure of the telcos in a way that it doesn't allow app developers to do with its own ecosystem?

I don't think Adam Smith would back your arguments.

Please read Jaron Lanier and come back with a proper capitalist analysis rather than an ode to rent-seeking.

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Re: Nice try Tim (Nice try at bringing leftwing politics into this argument)

Politics have nothing to do with this except the fact that all this anti Google crap always gets spouted by the leftwing and Eurocrats.

Capitalism is not a bad thing if you hadn't justified your very existence by reading from the little red book all your life.

All you communists and socialists have given people is adverse regulations, intrusive government victim mentalities and hundreds of trillions of dollars/Euros of debt.

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Re: Nice try Tim

"Capitalism is supposed to be about a constant churn of creative destruction and fierce competition"

No, that's markets, not capitalism.

"I don't think Adam Smith would back your arguments."

Interesting, because that's what much of Wealth of Nations is about, the way in which markets temper capitalism.

"Yet your assumption seems to be that tech is a special case where global economies of scale lead to inevitable monopoly or oligopoly and that we should simply accept it."

Not inevitable, although exploring the manner in which global economies of scale might exist in tech is pretty much 50% of what Krugman got his Nobel for.

"Please read Jaron Lanier and come back with a proper capitalist analysis rather than an ode to rent-seeking."

I've read as much of Lanier as I can stomach I'm afraid. Given that he doesn't seem to have the first clue about either markets or capitalism.

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Monopsony not Monopoly?

I have issue with the headlines assertion that 'you can't exploit a contestable monopoly.' Clearly you can, even if it (might) attract competition (after a time lag where you lap up the gravy.)

But let's look at it as Google being a supplier for a minute: Google is more or less a monopsony with a stranglehold on the eyeball supply. Every single advertiser could hate them and be ready to jump to another advertising space seller, but how does a competitor contest Google's position when market share in search is the resource that you are using? You can't make more eyeballs so you have to steal Google's somehow. Only on that side of the equation you are competing with a (financially) free service with years of experience in delivering effective, relevant search results.

Google may be pushing their own services and agenda all they like on their website; until they piss off a critical mass of search users or they pull an unambiguously illegal stunt that lands them in doo-doo, advertisers have the basic choices of putting up with it or pissing off.

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Re: Monopsony not Monopoly?

"after a time lag where you lap up the gravy"

That's a big flaw in the economic theory. I don't care if the market corrects abuse, harm is occurring in that lag time and that lag can easily stretch to years - even decades if you look at examples like Microsoft. As usual when economic theory hits the messy real world, it falls short.

Regulation is often needed even in a self correcting market and it's needed here to keep everyone honest *today*, not at some unpredictable time in the future.

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Re: Monopsony not Monopoly?

No amount of regulation is going to make Hot-Maps.com a success.

(They were one of the initial people complaining about Googles supposed unfairness)

The only way it could is if the legislation forced me to use it on pain of death.

Regardless of your opinion that would not make my world a better place.

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Re: Monopsony not Monopoly?

>No amount of regulation is going to make Hot-Maps.com a success.

No, but a bit of time might.

Remember, Google Maps wasn't all that hot at the beginning - no better than Mapquest or a few other hopefuls. Google Maps didn't get to be top of the pile because it was better than all the rest; it got to better because it was at the top of everyone's pile - and had the time and resources to develop.

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Re: Monopsony not Monopoly?

Baidu was almost exclusively designed to be used only in Asia.

9 Billion plus possible customers and they mostly use Google according to

http://www.statista.com/statistics/216573/worldwide-market-share-of-search-engines/.

They have search choices that cater to the area and they still use Google because it works better.

Thats not called a monopoly thats called a better mousetrap!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Monopsony not Monopoly?

Not true in my case, sorry.

I switched to Google Maps when it got better than what I was using previously.

And now I've got me a Lumia, I'm using Here maps on the telephone, and Gmaps on the interwebs.

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Re: Monopsony not Monopoly?

Rubbish.

I used to use Mapquest and a variety of other online map sites before Google Maps made it's debut.

It blew them out of the water from a very early point. I was in an office when people were hearing about it and jaws dropped. The speed, the satellite imagery, the sense of exploration, the way you could scroll around and interact and zoom, it was very special.

Alternatives at that point had a clunky search function and arrows at each corner of the map which resulted in a turnaround and refresh.

Within a year if you were visiting somebodies website and looking for directions to their stores and their contact page had an embed or a link to something other than googles map you wondered just how much they hated their customers.

To say it was no better than its competition is not true.

Hot-Map.com as an example is nearly perfect, they've been around since at least 2003 but their website looks dated for 1998. They have a blog page and 98% of the blog entries they've written since January 2003 (that's 11 damn years) have whining about Google as their primary purpose. Seriously, go and look.

At best their are a half dead, one track minded entity with no ambition other than hoping a government somewhere cripples their betters and forces people to use them. At worst they are nothing but a chimera of a shell and a shill, limping along with the help of cheques from you-know-who because it seems more genuine than simply buying the votes.

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Re: Monopsony not Monopoly?

@strum: "Google Maps didn't get to be top of the pile because it was better than all the rest"

Google maps got to be better because Google invested VAST amounts of money making it better.

You could try arguing that's unfair to smaller competitors who cannot match the investment in servers or mapping but if they couldn't afford to do that they simply couldn't deliver the same level of service anyway. Simply spending money to build *better* product is not abuse, however much it buggers up someone else's business. It's abuse when you spend money only to screw with competition.

Some tasks need scale to do well, that's why we allow large corporations to be large, why we allow monopolies rather than aggressively breaking them up before they do wrong. Maps would seem to be one of them.

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The moment Google starts screwing over us consumers then we'll bugger off elsewhere.

That's only true if the consumer is informed that they're being screwed over. Who's going to do that? Google?

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The moment Google starts screwing over us consumers then we'll bugger off elsewhere.
That's only true if the consumer is informed that they're being screwed over. Who's going to do that? Google?
The Register for one. Now flip the coin. The consumer is being informed they are being screwed over and that they *should* bugger off elsewhere. How do you know they're telling the truth?

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Devil

This article and EU missing the point.

Everything Google does is to sell Adverts.

They are using all the information they gather from all their services in a way that breaks privacy law and is very creepy and immoral.

They are able to do this because of the way the Internet has to work. A server must know your IP to return data to you.

In the real world the "providers" don't know if you look at the Bill board or listen to radio or watch the TV or DVD or read the paper book.

In the Internet connected world, they do. But worse is that most providers are using Google services in some way, so even apart from Google knowing your email contents (gmail) or documents (Google Cloud / Google Docs) or searches, they know what pages you look at, programs you listen to or watch etc, how long, how often, where you are. Probably often they know who you are.

There is a good reason too why Google wants a single sign in for everything. The near monopoly on many Google services (not just search) is mildly worrying, but not the biggest issue.

The "inventors" and pioneers of Internet and Web were naive in extreme about . But also about "how social pressures" work. It's almost inevitable that security and privacy on the Internet is a huge problem given inherent design. Perhaps each ISP needs to be a "Tor". But also you'll tend to have monopolies. One auction site, one encyclopaedia, one search, one Social magazine, one messaging, one video sharing. It's interesting that "competition" tends to be purely different social groups or languages.

I don't know what the answer is, but it's truly bonkers to believe the "Market" will sort it out on it's own, that anyway only addresses the lesser maybe necessary "evil" of monopolies, not privacy, state control, manipulation of users etc.

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Re: This article and EU missing the point.

And the end result of that is that the adverts online are more tailored to me.

Sometimes they are even interesting.

The evil burns!

Seriously I wish somebody would do that for TV too. Then I could watch the cricket without constantly having ads for bingo, jacamo and payday loan companies.

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I agree with most of the concepts explained in the article. Yes, another product comparison site can be made. Yes, if it is that much better (or Google is that much worse), consumers will start using it.

However, there is a considerable point missing here: Convenience. Most people on the web (at least in the west) use Google for search. If they do that, there is an extra step involved in going to another site, whereas Google display their product search results right there on the main search results page. There has to be a big advantage to another site for consumers to consider switching.

This applies to many of the other services Google offer. They are not always the best, they may have their downsides, but they are very convenient, especially to someone who uses Google as their gateway to the internet. By forcing competitors to need a vastly superior product to outweigh this convenience, there is no longer a level playing field. The market is heavily biased towards Google in many ways. This doesn't mean other companies can't win (just take a look at the failure of G+), but it will always be an uphill struggle in any market where Google already has a footing.

This is not to say whether the current EU action against Google is valid (or not). Just that this important point is missing entirely from the article.

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Aye, it's basic singularity mechanics, which the Internet does in spades due to its incredibly low friction/resistance. Amazon were once just another shopping site. Ebay just another auction site.

After accreting enough mass to rank highly (i.e. you didn't flub scaling), the sheer size of the userbases starts tearing the competitors to bits entirely naturally unless they're seperated by enough distance. After some time, secondary services start forming on the surface (ever seen anything big that didn't?) and get a free gravity-fed userbase in all cases. Then there are the moons, natural and captured, like Youtube, and other services pulled down to bury themselves permanently integrated into the crust.

Just because Google is *naturally* huge (no conspiracies even required), it doesn't mean they *aren't* abusing the natural forces available to them, but people genuinely *want* integration (e.g. does looking for a device-type in a geographical area require 1) a selection of competing device manufacturers, then 2) competing retailer price comparisons, leading to 3) competing map providers to display 4) the product in the store at the location that could have been suggested at the start? What should happen if you ask Siri?). But if Google gives users what they Want, that will eventually end up with a justifiable conviction for monopoly abuse. Giving people what they Want when they Want what they Need to never be given, is typically going to land you in Court. People Need no monopolies. They Need options. Competition. If you have integrated services that someone wishes to compete with, well, you may have to rearchitect them, even if you invented them.

What bugs me is this. Some services will only be possible under mass integration/data-density (AI - i.e. *your* AI. Individual medicine/education/coaching). And other services are only possible with mass user density/gravity (finally understanding/changing society). Big powers. Big trust issues. These are Big tools that can be used to solve, and create, Big problems. Big decision. Probably one re-roll per Google-class entity. So, not many per human lifetime.

Unfortunately we've already got Big problems. The kind that get bigger if you pretend you don't. And I doubt China, or Eastern society in general, sees this problem as anything other than an opportunity. So, the West could just leave them to Solve our Problems.

Erk. Too many mental laxatives.

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But then whats the solution?

Nobody on here seems to be suggesting anything other than, they are evil, kill them with fire. Oh and while your at it all tracking must be banned and all adverts must be random.

What do people want?

Do they want to forbid Google from doing anything other than basic web search? Would it be OK if google left the shopping box but instead added links for "perform this search @ pricerunner, etc, etc"? Must they drop the shopping results completely and force people to go to the shopping tab? What if you can configure your google account to say "if you think I'm shopping show results from pricerunner" (although pricerunner would then probably sue them for scraping)? What about Maps & News?

I personally think the EU has got completely the wrong end of the stick, and I can think of a few good suggestions and legislation that can help the industry going forward.

But what do the google haters actually want to happen?

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Regulation

"Only non-contestable monopolies need regulation."

That simply isn't true. It would be fair to say that only non-contestable monopolies need regulation in order to prevent the abuse of that monopoly. But if a company owning a contestable monopoly is doing something which is within the rules but that "hurts" a majority of consumers to the point where they believe something "must be done," then, democratically, that contestable monopoly needs regulation, because any competitor will have to perform that same legal abuse in order to compete.

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Anonymous Coward

So what next?

Ford dealers being forced to carry a sign saying "Other makes are also available"?

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Re: So what next?

No, and you're doing a fine impression of an ignorant fucktard right there.

The business of a Ford dealership is to sell Ford cars. You know that walking in.

The business of Google Search* is to deliver search results, not price comparisons. That is the business of Google Shopping, the same business that sites like PriceFinder or others are in. When you go Google Search and look for, for the sake of example, a Ford Ka and you get some data about the Ka and also price comparisons (always without exception close to the top of the page and far above results on PriceFinder and others, even though Google Shopping is OBJECTIVELY worse as a price comparison site, that is called "leveraging a Search monopoly into the price comparison business" and that, oh anonymous builder of straw men, is illegal.

Now stop it.

*from the perspective of the user, that is

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Re: So what next?

Well explain this to me:

Example 1: trying to find the rules of chess

Example 2: trying to find a tutorial for chess playing

Example 3: trying to find a local chess club

Example 4: trying to find the best price for a chess set

Example 5: trying to find flight times to go a chess championship

Example 6: trying to find hotel rooms near the championship

Example 7: trying to find nude photos of the hottest chess grandmaster*

Are you suggesting that there is some "magical" quality about some of those searches that means Google should just give up the ghost and hand over all responsibility to someone else? Or that the word "search" must only mean a single form of collating information?

(* it's either Eva Repkova or Sanja Dedijer, YMMV)

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Re: So what next?

I'd go with "don't embed Google Shopping results in Search results" as a decent start.

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Re: So what next?

The business of Google Search* is to deliver search results, not price comparisons. That is the business of Google Shopping,

Maybe you feel that they should be different, separate, services, but that is irrelevant. Both are Google products, and Google is entitled to use one to promote the other.

If you went to the dairy aisle in Tesco and found a BOGOF advert for strawberries would you start foaming at the mouth because the dairy department dared to advertise a price for a product that rightfully belongs in greengrocery? Or would you accept that people buying cream might indeed like some strawberries to go with it, and find the BOGOFadvert useful? Obviously some dairy users will hate strawberries, and Asda strawberries might be cheaper anyway, but is that a reason to criticize Tesco for advertising theirs?

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Re: So what next?

Actually, car dealerships do have a legally enforced monopoly in the UK. The general rule is that manufacturers are not allowed to dictate which retailers may or may not sell their product. But there are three exceptions to that rule, on the rather spurious grounds that they are luxury items: cars, gemstones, and perfume. British supermarkets have been pushing for years to get the exceptions to the law removed so that they may start selling cars. Personally, I support that, as car dealerships are fucking awful and do abuse their monopolies.

(If anyone has slightly more up-to-date information on this, I'd love to hear it and am happy to stand corrected. It's one of those obscure laws that is puzzlingly difficult to research. My info is years old.)

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Re: So what next?

> Maybe you feel that they should be different, separate, services, but that is irrelevant. Both are Google products, and Google is entitled to use one to promote the other.

I have no feelings on the matter but the law is very clear that Google is not entitled to use one to promote the other. Your attempt to make excuses, however, is interesting.

> If you went to the dairy aisle in Tesco and found a BOGOF advert for strawberries would you start foaming at the mouth because the dairy department dared to advertise a price for a product that rightfully belongs in greengrocery?

Here we go again. Not a good analogy at all, in fact I'd call it another straw man albeit one wearing a better costume. Both "sections" are in the same physical shop, both are selling food items from the same business unit and Tesco - however much we might all hate them - are not a monopoly.

You might have done better with the Tesco insurance and Tesco Mobile offers you see in the stores but again, not a monopoly so they can leverage as much as they like.

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Re: So what next?

NO it's not a monopoly and it's NOT illegal. The EU is making a big deal about nothing on the behalf of companies that can't make a competitive product. They are the ones applying undue influence on lawmakers, not Google.

Sorry that you have too much time invested in another search provider but when you make a better product that does as much as Google does then you might have an arguement.

All I see right now is a continental case of sour grapes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So what next?

Except ford dealers will take any make in part exchange and will then sell that other make car, so yes you can go to a ford dealer and by a non ford car, just not a new one.

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Re: So what next?

>>"Maybe you feel that they should be different, separate, services, but that is irrelevant. Both are Google products, and Google is entitled to use one to promote the other"

No they're not, that's where you are mistaken. The reason is because it is anti-competitive. Sticking with the Ford car analogy, suppose Ford not only made cars, but also owned a chain of petrol stations. Suppose they cross promote deals between the two with their petrol stations giving discounts or priority lanes to Ford cars. That means the car business is no longer competing on the quality of cars, but is affected by the number of petrol stations Ford owns. And if Ford is dominant in the field of petrol stations such that the overwhelming majority are owned by them, then that is anti-competitive. The car industry will be hugely skewed not by competition within it, but by the market dominance of the owning company in a different market sector. That is abuse of position which is illegal. Google are hugely dominant in search. Therefore using that to promote themselves in other markets can be anti-trust.

Also, this article is the usual biased polemic I expect from Worstall these days.

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Re: So what next?

I have a real-life example: British Gas. They sell gas and they also install and service gas central heating systems. What they used to do was use the profits from gas supply to prop up the central heating servicing side of the business, which made it impossible for other companies to compete with them on that front: they were using the money from the legal monopoly granted them as a nationalised industry to quash competition in the private sector in which they also operated (gas supply was nationalised, central heating servicing was obviously not). The government put an end to that practice in 1996 as the tail-end of privatisation, splitting them into two separate companies, British Gas Trading, who sold gas, and British Gas Services, who serviced central heating, and telling the latter that they had two years to start breaking even in their own right and stop taking funding from the former.

You may have noticed that there are now other firms such as Green Flag who offer central heating service contracts. Before '98, it was simply impossible to compete with British Gas, at least at a national level.

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Re: So what next?

> Except ford dealers will take any make in part exchange and will then sell that other make car, so yes you can go to a ford dealer and by a non ford car, just not a new one.

Yes. Read what I wrote: the law says that manufacturers may not dictate which retailers may or may not sell their products, and cars, gemstones, and perfume are the exceptions to that law. A manufacturer obviously may not dictate which retailers sell someone else's products, exception or no.

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Re: So what next?

> All I see right now is a continental case of sour grapes.

It's all the fault of those FILTHY EUROS, right, Dan Paul?

A good honest American company wouldn't break the law, right, Dan Paul?

A good honest American company would never break monopolies laws, right, Dan Paul?

Only the stupid Euros have those stupid dumbass laws anyway, right, Dan Paul?

Seriously, either you're trolling or there's something wrong with you.

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Re: So what next? Dogged or should I say Doggerel

Never said Filthy, Dogged. Just said Euro and that is quite enough of a four letter word for now.

I know you don't like my opinion but unlike European law, we have this thing called the First Amendment that protects "Free Speech". (I know thats a foreign concept to you since you only regurgitate what you're told to say)

All my comments regarding Google are REPLYS to articles and posts that deliberately or not, single out American companies like Google for criticism and legal censure by the EU & EUC. That's not the definition of trolling now is it? You must be responding to your own guilt.

If that makes my comments to have been directed at "Filthy Euros" as you say in your post, then lets be blunt. They are directed at the EU & EUC and EVERY one of their legal "decisions" smell funny. Just like bribery and influence peddling on the behalf of the Fair Search Alliance. And if you were even trying to be honest about it you would agree.

Never said the US does not have stupid laws, but that's not the subject of these posts, is it Dogged?

We have LOTS of stupid laws, many on the books are simply unenforceable for their antiquity.

American companies break the law all the time but not in THIS case Dogged. And they are not the subjects of these posts are they?

Google has done nothing illegal, only perhaps their results in some circumstances are questionable and that question would not have even been brought up if it weren't for the undue and illegal influence peddling of the people behind the Fair Search Alliance who are trying to get Googles search algorithims exposed. As if.....and there is the reason for my statement that there is a "continental case of sour grapes"

None of them can create a search product that even comes close to Googles so they bribe, whine, lie, cheat and sabotage Google at every opportunity.

And while we are at it, there are a few British companies over here like National Grid, BAE and BP that DEFINITELY have not exactly been known for good business practices.

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Re: So what next? Dogged or should I say Doggerel

`> I know you don't like my opinion but unlike European law, we have this thing called the First Amendment that protects "Free Speech".

You do, you just don't understand it. Your first amendment only means your government can't censor you. Everyone else can.

Deal with it.

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Google shopping?

Well, learn a little something every day.

I didn't even know it existed. I use Google search.

So no problem with Google as a search engine, then?

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Re: Google shopping?

No, the Search monopoly is entirely legal and gained legitimately (as far as we know).

But since you use Google Search, you'll have seen Google Shopping results. They just weren't labelled as such.

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"The moment Google starts screwing over us consumers then we'll bugger off elsewhere"

ORLY? Generalising from your own experiences and behaviour there, TW?

Yes, *some* consumers will "bugger off elsewhere", but a lot more, because they don't know they're being screwed over or find "everything under one roof" to be more convenient or not being willing to accept that they're being screwed over or whatever will not.

In the mean time the verb "to google" has entered the language and the (false) idea that their results are impartial and aimed solely at getting the best results for the consumer gives a powerful drag factor on any change, so they will keep their monopoly for a very long time unless those pesky governments try to ensure that people *really* have a choice.

TW does rather seem to be missing the point, doesn't he?

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Re: "The moment Google starts screwing over us consumers then we'll bugger off elsewhere"

TW is missing the point. The only question is whether or not it is intentional.

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Mushroom

Re: "The moment Google starts screwing over us consumers then we'll bugger off elsewhere"

Gah - that's too meta-manipulative for me. I need some faith in my species. Regardless, this article really is an exploding whale, so I'm making a break for the fenceline. I don't want any of this on me.

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Be careful of what you ask for!

If Google were to block access from the EU to their services (and those of re-packagers such as DuckDuckGo) for, say, 2 weeks, I can guarantee that the villagers would be up in arms with torches and pitchforks to pillory the EU commissioners.

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Re: Be careful of what you ask for!

Goody, let's do that - pillory the EU commission I mean, after all they are an unelected monopoly that dictate what we can and can't do.

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Stop

Re: Be careful of what you ask for!

... but at the same time, it would prove their monopoly beyond any reasonable doubt.

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A product that is free to the consumer is surely not contestible?

If we are just talking about search (and that's generally what I use Google for) then it can't be a contestible monopoly because they can't gouge me on the price. They can gouge me on the results but I don't think they do that, the t'interwebs would be up in arms about it. If they apply the same ranking algorithm to their own products as they do to everyone else's then the search part is fair.

As to all the other stuff, well, they all do that don't they? Apple in particular. That other stuff may well be wrong and I would hope that is what the EU probe will be concerning itself with but they really ought to look at lot's of people not just Google.

But to say that Google have a contestible monopoly on search is not, I feel, correct because the cost to the end user is free. They have a contestible monopoly on advertising against search results so if European advertising professionals and European developers feel like they are being stitched then perhaps they should use each other's resources to try and contest that space? Perhaps they could come up with a better search product? Divert some of those advertising euros into a disruptive rival upstart and pay it in kind by promoting it?

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Holmes

WTF?

I'm a Windows using lover of Microsoft. There, I said it.

I've used Bing by accident once or twice (baby + phone = odd things happen), but otherwise use google for search, gmail for mail, YouTube for video.... all by choice. I just prefer them to other products.

I'm not sure how anyone can credibly claim a need to regulate Google for those services... Sure, the Google+ stuff is annoying, but mostly because I've no interest in social networking. If it ever gets too annoying, I'll go back to Yahoo - it's not like I've never switched search engine before (lots of guff, altavista, webcrawler, yahoo, google, bing, google).

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Worstall makes the fundamental mistake of imagining that the users of Google are its customers. They aren't - they're the product. The advertisers are the customers.

If a company uses loss-leaders to exclude competitors - that's pretty much the definition of a monopoly. Google's might creates an insurmountable barrier to entry; if you can't possibly rack up enough clicks, you haven't got a product to sell.

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Google users are Google customers as well as the product. In the web search market they buy search services by providing eyeballs on the Google page; Google takes these eyeballs, categorises them by the likely interests of the user and delivers them in bulk for a fee to advertisers in the advertising market. Google's 'products' are free to take their business elsewhere at any time within the search market for the low low cost of a few keystrokes. Google's customers are free to buy advertising space from any other ad provider at any time (and I imagine they already do), but Google remains the biggest supplier of eyeballs on ads due to its dominance (not monopoly) in the separate web search market.

There is no loss-leading going on; web search is a no monetary cost operation and was long before Google entered the business. I won't deny that Google's might creates a massive barrier to entry. But whatever your opinion of Google, the failures of other market entrants/participants can't be laid at their door.

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Are you really that ignorant of the real world Strum? Worstall is dead on!

EVERY retailer of any note uses loss leaders to exclude their competitors. What do you think a "Sale" is?

That Tesco, Aldi, Sam's Club, Target, Wal-Mart, Tops, Kohls, Walgreens etc. (insert the name of any retail operation) ad slipped into the newspapers is full of "Loss Leaders".

THIS IS HOW YOU GET PEOPLES FRIKKIN ATTENTION.

If everybody does it; it can't mean it's a monopoly.

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I demand a Goodfellas mash up.

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Anonymous Coward

"biting the hand that feeds IT"??????????????

The Reg.logo contains the phrase "biting the hand that feeds IT". With Mr Worstall and others it increasingly seems to be "climbing into bed with" the IT giants who (like Walmart last week) can do no wrong because they are "big business" ............

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