back to article Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then

The European Parliament is gunning for Google. In a completely unenforceable symbolic gesture today, it voted to “unbundle search engines from commercial services” (which would, in effect mean the breakup of Google). The so-called "Resolution on the Digital Single Market" – proposed by German MEP Andreas Schwab and his Spanish …

  1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    I am a bit confused

    Sometimes I use Google search, but I am not required to use their other services to get search results. Sometimes I use a different search engine, but that does not prevent me from using Google's other services. How are they bundled?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I am a bit confused

      "How are they bundled?"

      The Borg bundle sits own advertising results in with your search results. And advertising - together with search - is where most of the money and power is online. Also The Borg bundles it's online search with its mobile phone OS, its browser etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I am a bit confused

      Exactly, and I can't use a different EU Parliment when I want.

      1. swschrad
        Megaphone

        the fix is really quite simple

        if the EC cannot stand the Google business model, they can apply to be delisted from search results. and then EC nations will not be indexed or reachable from Google or its Chrome browser. simple. effective. final. how about it, pinheads?

    3. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: How are they bundled?

      They're returned with prominence in the search results. Is it the excellence of their services that put them at the top of the list? Is it Google pretending to do just a search while shoe horning in ads for their own services that results in their services prominence?

      Surely anyone can see there is a potential for a conflict of interest here. It's not tricky.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How are they bundled?

        To aprevious poster: Yes you can have an different European Parliament if you want one. You just need to persuade enough people to vote for it.

        Let me guess, you didn't bother voting.............

        To those who say the vote as a waster of time, don't forget the Parliament can remove the Commission if they want to, so the Commission will at least pay a fair amount of attention to a vote like this.

        1. SleepyJohn
          WTF?

          Re: How are they bundled? - Groundwork for EuroSearch

          The last time Parliament removed the Commission for the sort of gross corruption that one normally sees in African dictatorships run by despotic ex-Corporals, the Commissioners just re-appointed themselves a week later with bigger cars, refurbished offices and hugely increased salaries.

          The likelihood of your vote having any effect whatsoever on the EU is on a par with the Pope being a Lizard from Alpha Centauri. Which, of course, is why hardly anyone bothers. To equate the EU's blatant sham of a 'democratic' Parliament to the original poster being able to use a different search engine is too ludicrous for words.

          I must assume that you work for the EU's propaganda department, and are one of an army of infilitrators preparing us for the introduction of EuroSearch, which will only return results that further the cause of European integration, and automatically detect the IP of anyone deemed to have criticised the EU.

          Google could be a serious competitor to this, so must be emasculated.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: How are they bundled? - Groundwork for EuroSearch

            So when was this exactly and which cars did they get? Who got exactly how much more money afterwards? Who was corruptly getting what and what did they get afterwards?

            I'm afraid it sounds like you're making a desperate attempt to throw some mud in the hope that it will stick.

            BTW. You might want to stop reading the Daily Mail and get out once in a while.... or perhaps you work for Google?

      2. Indolent Wretch

        Re: How are they bundled?

        Yeah but some people seem to think that this utterly trivial issue of search & advertising company promotes its own search & advertising is somehow important when in fact its frikking obvious.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: How are they bundled?

          " some people seem to think that this utterly trivial issue of search & advertising company promotes its own search & advertising is somehow important"

          s/issue of search & advertising company promotes its own search & advertising/MEP/

      3. plrndl
        FAIL

        Re: How are they bundled?

        @ sabroni

        Google's success amongst a miriad of search engines is a result of providing the best answers to user's queries. If they didn't provide the answers that users want, Bing (is that still going?) and others are only a few clicks away.

        Only a moron would fail to distinguish between the ads and the answers.

        1. monkeyfish

          Re: How are they bundled?

          Arguably google have hidden their own services a bit now anyway, putting them as they have under a stupid dotted icon.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How are they bundled?

          "Only a moron would fail to distinguish between the ads and the answers"

          I'm sure you'll agree that the world is full of morons...

        3. sabroni Silver badge
          Meh

          @ plrndl

          Yes, I know. Only a moron would think the fact that their search is good means that they should be able to finagle themselves up the results list when they have a product to sell.

          You didn't address my point, which was that there is a conflict of interest between the best search results for the user (ie. most relevant) and for google (ie. promotes their other products). Care to engage on that?

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: @ plrndl

            "You didn't address my point, which was that there is a conflict of interest between the best search results for the user (ie. most relevant) and for google (ie. promotes their other products). Care to engage on that?"

            Google run the fucking website. Search is not a public service. It's not pay for by any government or tax dollars. There are many alternatives to Google. Search costs money; without it, you can't run a search engine of any kind, let alone at Google's scale. People acutally want Google services. The majority of searches for relevant services are predicated with "Google": for example, "Google Maps".

            There's no reason Google shouldn't be able to promote it's own services on it's own website. You aren't forced to use it. Two out of the three top browsers (Firefox and Internet Explorer) which are responsible for 75% of the browser market between them default to Yahoo and Bing (respectively).

            With the exception of Chromebooks, Google Chorme is not shipped by default with the operating system. (It doesn't ship by default on Samsung Android devices, which make up the overwhelming majority of Android, and it isn't on iOS devices either.)

            Users are making a conscious choice to choose Google. They are choosing Google willingly. They like Google as it is, and they don't want it changed. They prefer Google services to those of others because they are legitimately superior.

            Why should WalMart not be allowed to sell own-branded goods in it's own stores? Should Amazon not be allowed to sell/promote it's video or cloud computing services on it's main website? Why is Microsoft allowed to build in support for Azure Active Directory to Windows 10 or Azure Hyper-V Replica into Windows Server? Why should Apple be allowed to build iCloud into their phones instead of offering a choice that includes Dropbox?

            There is no reason. Like Google, none of those examples are monopolies. In fact, some of them are defaults; something Google emphatically is not.

            This isn't "Microsoft bundling IE." People must make an actual choice</I. to use Google's services here, and there are umpteen alternatives. In fact, there are alternatives enabled <i>by default that they must bypass to get to Google.

            Does that address your bullshit?

      4. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: How are they bundled?

        "Google pretending to do just a search "

        When did Google say it was just a search?

        How does "just a search" make any money?

        If it can't make money, how does it stay open?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I am a bit confused

      It's bundled because Google give you lots of free stuff in exchange for getting data to enhance their search. In short, if this goes through, then you can kiss goodbye to getting anything free from Google. All it's non-search businesses will either get sold off, closed down, or have to start making money elsewhere.

      Forget Android being given away free to anyone that wants it. No way can Google fund it's development without the revenue it generates from search.

      Ditto for Gmail, ditto for Picasa, ditto for Google Maps, etc etc etc.

      This is what Microsoft clearly want (and lets' not pretend Microsoft aren't pulling the strings here).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: and lets' not pretend Microsoft aren't pulling the strings here

        Oh no, it's been said 3 times in this thread, "Microsoft", "Microsoft", "Microsoft". The boogeyman! He's coming!!! To take our ADVERTS!!!!!!

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. Handy Plough

            Re: and lets' not pretend Microsoft aren't pulling the strings here

            Trevor, if you must be a fanboi, please be more subtle.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: and lets' not pretend Microsoft aren't pulling the strings here

              I've no love for Google. But this Redmondian-backed witch hunt is fucking clown shoes. There's better shit we could all be doing than dealing with this. More important stuff - in the IT industry even - that would benefit the people far more than this.

              And make no mistake, this is nothing more than a witch hunt. And I've no respect for puritans of any stripe.

              1. sabroni Silver badge
                Unhappy

                Re: and lets' not pretend Microsoft aren't pulling the strings here

                Trevor, seriously, get some help.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I vote to break up the European Parliment

    Why vote if it can't be done?

    1. tmTM

      Re: I vote to break up the European Parliment

      because it's the European Parliament, they live to waste time and money.

    2. xerocred

      Re: I vote to break up the European Parliment

      When questioned, the 458 MEPs voting to break up Google, admitted they used Google for search on the Internet.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: I vote to break up the European Parliment

      They voted to put a motion before the commission to consider breaking up Google as a possible measure... They didn't vote to break up Google per se.

  3. Someonehasusedthathandle

    So lets say they get their wish somehow.....somehow.

    "Google Search" just licenses "Google Products" as a preferred partner and as part of the deal agrees to put them top of all search results and pays them $5bn for the privilege. In 99% of the shares obviously.

    Even open it up for bidding and let anyone propose to be a preferred partner then outbid them as they are paying themselves anyway.

    Or just tell them to fudge off and suggest they break up the European union first.

    1. SleepyJohn
      Big Brother

      "suggest they break up the European union first"

      Good idea. At least Google's 'monopoly' is caused by its own efficiency, not by a fifty-year farrago of lies and deceit, bribery and political bullying.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: "suggest they break up the European union first"

        "fifty-year farrago of lies and deceit, bribery and political bullying"

        Which, of course, is naturally worse than 1000 years of the same, plus murder, rape, incest, pedophilia, war, more war, pointless war, religious war, the burning of witches, crusades, and hounding homosexuals to suicide. Oh, and the publicly stated desire to not be bound by the "shackles" of human rights.

        Yeah, I can really see why the alternative is so attractive you.

        1. Andrew Meredith

          Re: "suggest they break up the European union first"

          "Which, of course, is naturally worse than 1000 years of the same, plus murder, rape, incest, pedophilia, war, more war, pointless war, religious war, the burning of witches, crusades, and hounding homosexuals to suicide. Oh, and the publicly stated desire to not be bound by the "shackles" of human rights."

          Which was of course stopped solely by our mates in Brussels. NATO had nothing to do with it, obviously.

          How's that koolaid taste by the way?

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: "suggest they break up the European union first"

            Seems to me they're the only restraining the excesses of your xenophobic and increasingly authoritarian police-state worshiping rulers, yes.

  4. .stu

    Doesn't this also affect Microsoft/Bing, as well as Yahoo? They both have a search engine and commercial services don't they?

    I'm sure there are others.

    Edit: According to the Daily Fail, Apple are working on their own search engine. Not much point now is there?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Yes and no...

      It is like the sanctions against Microsoft, why weren't they also made against Apple and Linux? Because they didn't have over 90% market share. In most of Europe Google has an "unfair" advantage over other search services, because they have over 90% of the search market sewn up.

      In Germany for example, they have around 95%. The problem is the rivals like Bing were useless at non-English search for a very long time. Only in the last year or so have they become remotely usable, but that is too late for many, because everybody just googles. In German when you do a search, you have gegooglt, not gebingt or geyahoot...

      That said, Google's results have been becoming less and less relevant over the last year or so. At the moment, when I do a search for problems with a device, the first 2 pages are usually links to eshops and price comparison sites! If I'm having problems with a device, then it is very probably that I have already bought it, and if I am having problems with it, I probably don't want to buy another one!

      1. eulampios

        which Google are you using, big_D

        >>the first 2 pages are usually links to eshops and price comparison sites!

        Are you talking about the first 2 resulted links or the the first 2 pages of results?

        If it's the latter, we must be using very different google engines.

        Here's a few examples: compare

        google's wifi+problem+on+incredible

        vs.

        bing's wifi+problem+on+incredible

        Both queries brought almost no ads for me: AMOF, Bing got one and Google did none. BTW, I use Firefox+ NoScript with google.com being allowed and bing.com being disallowed by default. On ff both queries are almost instantaneous. Interesting to note also, that when I use a text browser without js, like w3m, bing is busy with uploading a lot of cookies and takes a few seconds to finish, while google fetches as fast as it does on ff.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: which Google are you using, big_D

          It seems to go in phases @eulampios, sometimes I'll get good results, then for a couple of months, using the same sort of search terms, I get nothing but shopping sites and price comparisons, then the formula gets tweaked again and it is back to normal...

          I use Firefox with NoScript and google.de

          1. eulampios

            Re: which Google are you using, big_D

            >>sometimes I'll get good results, then for a couple of months

            I can't recall a similar experience you describe. I would hate 2 first pages of ads as well. It's weird though, I am allergic to ads, especially, the obtrusive, idiotic type and I am still okay with Google, a company having their main source of income in ads. They must somehow be doing it in a pretty UNobtrusive and quieter than others for me way. Say, gmail vs yahoomail in their webmail form. Yahoo used to be so bad, I couldn't stand it for a couple minutes, while when I need to get out of Mutt or GNUS, my main email clients, and use webmail on gmail, I can tolerate all their ads!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: which Google are you using, big_D

            I've noticed it as well, across four browser families with mixed extensions ranging from none (Chrome on Nexus 7) to extreme paranoid lengths (don't even ask). It's relatively recent, I know that.

      2. eulampios

        (un)fair advantage

        >>It is like the sanctions against Microsoft, why weren't they also made against Apple and Linux? Because they didn't have over 90% market share.

        Fair and unfair. Here's the difference. A search engine is not imposed on a user. One can EASILY change it to his/her liking. Neither Google nor MS Tax is involved at this point.

        Compare it with you buying a desktop or a laptop with 90% + of preinstalled MS Windows having the license cost already included and bundled with the price of the PC. No easy disentanglement of this bundle exists out there, neither MS nor a PC manuf. would reimburse you for the unwanted software.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: (un)fair advantage

          It isn't about buying and it isn't that you can't change search engines, although most people don't know any others than Google and if you are not a native English speaker, there isn't much choice at all, the others, as I said above, have been next to useless until recently.

          The problem is similar to the problem with Microsoft. Not that you couldn't buy a PC with anything else, but that, because of that situation, they could use their sway to push other products on you at a disadvantage to the competition.

          E.g. Internet Explorer and Media Player pretty much killed the browser and music player market for a long time, especially for commercial products, people suddenly stopped buying products like MusicMaker Jukebox and just used MP. The same with browsers.

          Here Google is using its position as a search engine to push its own products - which from a shareholder's perspective is what you want, from an open market position is however and abuse of dominant position. Google can't win, just like Microsoft couldn't win.

          In fact, Google has already started to comply in some ways, offerng 4 alternative route planners above maps.google.de, for example.

          They needed to be pushed to do this, they have done it, but the regulators are slow to react and the other companies lobbying for a weaker Google smell blood and aren't satisfied that Google is not promoting its own products in first place any more, they want to see Google stripped back until they can compete.

          It will be like Microsoft, by the time the sanctions have been agreed upon, they will be irrelevant. The Browser Ballot was a good idea in 1999, by the time it was implemented in 2005, there was already competition and by 2010 it was no longer really needed - yet it still persists today, even though it is pretty irrelevant.

          I think we will see something similar with Google.

          1. eulampios

            (un)fair advantage

            >>It isn't about buying and it isn't that you can't change search engines...

            What this choice or lack thereof is about then?

            >>here isn't much choice at all, the others, as I said above, have been next to useless until recently.

            Which choice are you talking about now? Is it no choice because it doesn't exist on this planet no-choice, or a user has no-choice because he/she is not presented/informed about one?

            >>The problem is similar to the problem with Microsoft.

            In my opinion, it's not.

            >>...because of that situation, they could use their sway to push other products on you at a disadvantage to the competition.

            It is COMPETITION, if you can push the products along with results when somewhat better search algorithm is used. It is fine. If Google ever had an analog to the Vista fiasco, they would have been sunk into oblivion by now. Not true for MS, they have locked so many customers in, "collaborated" with so many universities, schools that even after having fallen so low they still continue to prosper. The cost of using Google search is not bundled with any other cost (with no way to get a refund for it by the EULA, like with the Windows Tax). This again greatly differentiates the two cases.

            Yeah, INHMO, I am using LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) here, it's better than Windows in almost every single aspect there. Windows is still preinstalled and imposed on me and other users for our own cost. Just received a call for help from an acquaintance, her recent Windows 8 brand new laptop "got a virus", or simply being very slow. AMOF, her 10-year old breaking apart hardware-wise laptop is still working okay since I installed XFCE Ubuntu on it, 3 years now.

            So, point me at the similarities sways that Google and Microsoft implement again?

            >>Browser Ballot was a good idea in 1999, by the time it was implemented in 2005, there was already competition and by 2010 it was no longer really needed - yet it still persists today, even though it is pretty irrelevant.

            It was anything, but not the best idea. Like giving a speeding ticket to a serial killer.

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: (un)fair advantage

              Google is collaborating with universities and schools, pushing their docs / business apps or whatever they are called at the moment, and Gmail.

              As to buying a PC, a PC with Windows generally costs 50€ - 100€ more than one with only FreeDOS installed over here. We generally buy the FreeDOS versions and install Linux on them, before we push them out to customers.

              As to the competition and pushing products, that is the point that is under debate. Should Google be giving its products prominence over others, just because they belong to Google? Is that a misuse of their position in search. That is why there is talk of breaking them up. If they are separate companies with no financial interest in promoting those products, then there should be no conflict of interest. That is the point of discussion.

              1. eulampios

                Re: (un)fair advantage

                >>As to buying a PC, a PC with Windows generally costs 50€ - 100€ more than one with only FreeDOS installed over here.

                With the same specks? Lucky you, we don't have it here in America. The question of MS Windows Tax is not only about the monopoly of Microsoft it's about the collusion between independent companies. Since, why would you bundle the products of HP and MS, two separate entities? Let MS buy HP or the other way around, or otherwise make unbundling possible (like it was done by an Italian court recently).

                >>Should Google be giving its products prominence over others, just because they belong to Google?

                In your original post it was more of pushing ads vs relevant information, since you complained about 2 first pages full of eshop links when searching for a phone issue (the situation I I had never experienced myself).

              2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: (un)fair advantage

                "Should Google be giving its products prominence over others, just because they belong to Google?"

                Yes. Just like every other fucking company on earth is allowed to do.

                "Is that a misuse of their position in search. "

                No. Because decent alternatives exist, and you are not forced to use Google. In fact, you must go out of your way to do so. Regardless of the past, today good alternatives exist. At least "god enough" for the average punter. People use Google because they want to. Why should it be hobbled artificially with restrictions that don't apply to it's competitors when it isn't locking anyone in to anything?

                This is very different from an actual monopoly abusing it's dominant position.

                What is perhaps the most important element here is that the consumer is not harmed by Google's actions. They are getting the superior service for the lowest possible price available and are not prevented or even discouraged from looking for alternative services. The only people who face any difficulties are A) Google's competitors who must actually pay for advertising and B) Politicos who cannot control the people if they cannot control the message.

                1. Handy Plough

                  Re: (un)fair advantage

                  'Yes. Just like every other fucking company on earth is allowed to do.'

                  EXCEPT WHEN THEY ARE A MONOPOLY!!! Christ Trevor, it's not that fucking hard. A link to gmail when signed in at the top/bottom of the page isn't a problem. Advertising your own platform on your own search engine when you have 90%+ of the market sewn up is. It is the very definition of "abusive monopoly".

                  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                    Re: (un)fair advantage

                    Bullshit, witch hunter. Bull fucking shit. Steaming piles of it.

                    A monopoly is allowed to advertise adjacent services in conjunction with their primary service. They aren't allowed to lock you into it, or attempt to use their monopoly to force or coerce you to use their adjacent services.

                    Google are not doing any of the above. They are promoting their services on their site...but they also provide a mechanism for others to promote competing services on their site. There is no lock in. There is no exclusivity in advertising. They are not abusing their near-monopoly in any way.

                    Just as my local telco can offer me "quad play" services by giving me discounts for bundling mobile, television, land line and internet, so too can Google advertise their other services.

                    In fact, Google aren't even offering a "discount" for using their services. There isn't anything remotely like the sort of high-pressure lock-in I get from a telco. I can give you at least 50 really good examples of companies that abuse their monopoly or near-monopoly positions, but in this case, Google is not doing that.

                    There are a hundred damned good reasons to hate on Google and try to see them censured. Why the metric fucknobbin are you lot screaming into the inky blackness of despair with only the one fucking thing they aren't actually doing wrong as your candle?

                    Jesus metric monkey fuck, people. if you want to hammer Google get them for something that will actually stand up in court. They aren't abusing a search monopoly. This is nothing more than a witch hunt and you lot can't figure out how much a fucking duck weighs.

                  2. eulampios

                    @Handy Plough

                    Are you sure? I think you're mistaken. FYI, gmail is not on the top of the ALL search results when looking for "mail" keyword:

                    google.com

                    google.co.uk

                    google.de

                    google.ru

                    As you can see only the German result puts gmail at the top. In the .com and .ru option, you get yahoo and mail.ru,resp., above gmail. So this might indicate that Google do not really put their own products above their competitors, relevance could be their main priority. Interesting, that bing does a similar thing there.

                    This happens when gmail is the most popular mail service on the planet. So are saying that Google should intentionally underrate their products below their own products promoting their competitors'?

                    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                      Re: @Handy Plough

                      Indeed.

                      If you want to find evidence of abuse by Google, look at their advertising agreements and ask "are Google saying you can't advertise with other search engines?" Look at Android and ask if they are preventing people from feilding phones based on other OSes if they choose to feild a Google-branded Android one. Can they feild a Fire-based and an Android-based phone at the same time?

                      "We are advertising our services on our own website while we also give others the ability to advertise on our own website" is not abuse.

        2. Mark 65

          Re: (un)fair advantage

          @eulampios: When you are 90+% of the search market choice becomes irrelevant. With great power comes great responsibility.

      3. Anonymoist Cowyard
        Stop

        Bing is also useless at even English searches..

        Let's not hobble Google just because they are the only company doing a good job with search. You don't break the leg of the fastest athelete just to give others a chance....

  5. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Which services are they actually talking about?

    It's a long time sincle I searched for 'free webmail' on Google, or any other search engine.

    And if by 'commercial services' they mean 'adverts' then how else do you pay for the search?

    1. StephenD

      Re: Which services are they actually talking about?

      Remarkably, I get Gmail at number 19 when searching for 'free webmail'.

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Free webmail

        Google didn't return any of the majors on the first page, mail.com was the best know one shown.

        Bing returned both Yahoo and hotmail on the first page.

        free cloud storage?

        Bing has dropbox as #1 after the HP ad

        Google it's Justcloud at #2

        It appears to me that Google is Not promoting their own stuff. They might be avoiding promoting ANY of the popular services where they offer something but they are not putting their own stuff above other stuff in search.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Free webmail

          Suspect that

          A) the majors don't feel the need to advertise with Google for rankings

          B) Google's internal teams don't feel like allocating the budget for advertising with the search team either for the exact same reasons.

          Why advertise when everyone knows you name? People don't search for "cloud storage" they search for "Dropbox". They don't search for "free webmail" they search for "Gmail". When you're Kleenex you don't advertise against the keyword "tissue".

    2. Indolent Wretch

      Re: Which services are they actually talking about?

      Yeah I love the guy who said "we need a separation or search and other commercial services"....

      All sorts of wrong with that statement.

  6. MustyMusgrave
    Mushroom

    yeah..

    Yeah, woopee, about bloody time.... Buh bye Google!

    As to how are there services bundled, you've not used there OS then, it's all locked in!

    1. McWibble

      Re: yeah..

      Well, don't use their OS then if you don't want Google search. Seems a fairly simple choice to me...

      I don't see people complaining about the lack of alternative browsers in iOS, probably for exactly this reason.

    2. Jim99

      Re: yeah..

      There, their and they're.

    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: yeah..

      Last time I checked, Bing was deeply integrated into Windows, Azure Active Directory was being baked into Windows 10 and Azure Replica was being baked into Windows Server's Hyper-V.

      I didn't ask for any of those. Seems "deeply integrated" to me.

  7. Velv Silver badge
    FAIL

    You didn't hear the EU screaming about The Yellow Pages abuse of its market position.

    For years it was the dominant business telephone directory in the UK and sold prominence to the highest bidder. Until the Thomson Local Directory came along you had little other choice of "search engine" if you want to find a plumber.

    This is worse than Google, as has been pointed out you do at least have a choice of search engines on the Internet.

    Politicians around the world really have no concept of reality, do they...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Choice

      When over 90% of people use one service and it has entered our lives so much that we use the company name as a verb it's difficult to see that there's meaningful choice. Most non-IT people don't seem to know that there are other search engines and it has become a catch 22 situation as no-one can effectively enter the market as it simply costs too much. Small players are feeling the squeeze and that only leaves two alternatives which most people don't use.

      As for the Yellow Pages: That was from a time when competition rules across the EU weren't so harmonised and so it would be looked at if it was still happening today. However, in either case it's not an argument for doing nothing today.

      The bottom line today is that if you don't rank well in Google you're going to see an impact on your business.

      And the ranking process does not seem fair and nor is it even published.

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: Choice

        " Most non-IT people don't seem to know that there are other search engines"

        Bull shit. If you are a "non-IT people" you use IE and Bing, that's what the default was when you bought your computer. If you use Google it's because you...

        - Installed a different browser.

        - Always type Google.com to search (I know people who do this)

        - Figured out how to switch search providers (it's not hard).

        They don't publish the ranking because it would just make it easy for the SEO assholes. (not everyone can be #1). I don't want #1 to always be the company with the biggest SEO budget.

        1. monkeyfish

          Re: Choice

          I agree, a non-IT person goes with the default, Bing. Unless they accidentally installed Chrome (which given the way it leaches onto other downloads is pretty easy).

          On the other hand my dad (who is vaguely IT literate) actively installs the Yahoo toolbar! It's the first thing he does for whatever reason, and no amount of arguing can dissuade him from it. Not that he ever changes the default IE search from Bing, mind. I guess he stopped being an up-to-date IT literate around 1998?

          1. Tom 35 Silver badge

            Re: Choice

            "Unless they accidentally installed Chrome (which given the way it leaches onto other downloads is pretty easy)."

            Or worse, the ask toolbar crap.

      2. Gannon (J.) Dick
        Big Brother

        Re: Choice

        "And the ranking process does not seem fair and nor is it even published."

        It will not be published so it can not be conclusively proven to be unfair by some irritating smarty pants. You know the type, multiple PhD's Nobel blah blah blah.

        The Surveillance Society has way too much invested in Google's role as a magician. If Google can find a bunch of Plumbers, after all, then the SS can find all the bad guys with the same magic.

      3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Choice

        "Most non-IT people don't seem to know that there are other search engines and it has become a catch 22 situation as no-one can effectively enter the market as it simply costs too much. Small players are feeling the squeeze and that only leaves two alternatives which most people don't use."

        Why should Google subsidise it's competition? And the barrier to entry isn't the cost of advertising, mate. It's the 24/7 global datacenter setup required to handle the exabytes of data you have to process to come close to Google's capabilities. Even Microsoft can't match Google.

        This is the internet. Build a better mousetrap and the entire world will ditch Google in a heartbeat.

        Myspace, meet Facebook.

        Digg meet Reddit.

        Every IM ever, meet Whatsapp.

        Google meet...

        Google meet...

        Google meet...

        ...oh, that's right, nobody has made a better mousetrap yet.

    2. sabroni Silver badge

      Yeah..

      Remember opening the Yellow Pages and seeing all those other Yellow Pages services promoted over the competition?

      No, me neither, because it didn't happen with Yellow Pages but is a fundamental part of this discussion about google... Reality.

  8. Adolph Clickbait

    "Free webmail"

    Search for me doesn't even feature Gmail on the 1st page.

    (Don't know if adblock has affected it though)

  9. Pseu Donyme

    Humbug

    Break-up seems kind of lenient considering the scale and persistence of Google's violations of privacy, a fundamental individual right in the EU. Instead I'd like to see them driven to bankruptcy (or at least out of the EU) with fines and confiscation past and future revenues as proceeds of crime as well as prosecuting the top brass (or at least sharply limiting their travel options). Since some EU-countries consider serious violations of the data protection directive a criminal offense (?) this should be operationally possible. This would also address the competition issues quite nicely, the worst of them being that an entity which cannot ignore the data protection directive, such as an EU-based search engine, is at a crushing competitive disadvantage to one who does.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Humbug

      So you want your economies to collapse because you drove out the most efficient IT services in a number of sectors and willingly crippled the ability of your local businesses to compete on a global stage?

      It's not like the EU has local anything that can actually compete with Google at virtually anything it does. Hell, you don't even have a Bing, and Bing is terrible.

  10. Fiddler on the roof

    I hate it when people say Google has an unfair advantage. Any advantage it has has been built up by their endeavours, they didnt wake up one morning to find they were the biggest search engine in the world. They got there by being the best or at least the search engine of choice for most users.

    It doesnt surprise me that the EU parliament wants to break up something for being too succesful given that they are a total waste of oxygen.

    1. r-d

      "Any advantage it has has been built up by their endeavours, they didnt wake up one morning to find they were the biggest search engine in the world."

      Neither did Microsoft wake up one morning and find that they were the biggest OS vendor. Either way, if you're going to abuse (or be seen to be abusing) a dominant position or monopoly in the market, you run the risk of the competition authorities coming along and jumping up and down on you.

      1. John Tserkezis

        "Either way, if you're going to abuse (or be seen to be abusing) a dominant position or monopoly in the market, you run the risk of the competition authorities coming along and jumping up and down on you."

        <ironyalert>Yeah, and the European Parliment is not aiming for that AT ALL.</ironyalert>

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        "Neither did Microsoft wake up one morning and find that they were the biggest OS vendor. Either way, if you're going to abuse (or be seen to be abusing) a dominant position or monopoly in the market, you run the risk of the competition authorities coming along and jumping up and down on you."

        Google isn't abusing - or aiming to abuse - it's position. Microsoft did and then continued to do so for the next 20 years abuse it's position to lock in customers and obliterate any form of competition.

        Google doesn't care that you compete with them. Google find a service they feel they can do better and the go forth and do it better.

        If there's something wrong with that, then Microsoft should not have been allowed to integrate a hypervisor into Windows Server. Microsoft should not have been allowed to integrate Storage Replica into Windows Server. Microsoft should not have been allowed to integrate deduplication into Windows Server. Etc. All examples of Microsoft building a feature into their product after several other versions were on the market.

        Why is this bad for Google to do and not Microsoft? Microsoft is more of an abusive monopoly than Google. Google doesn't lock you in or punish you for leaving. Microsoft has spent hundreds of billions locking customers into their ecosystem and they absolutely punish you for attempting to leave.

        Please, do explain.

        1. Handy Plough

          'Google isn't abusing - or aiming to abuse - it's position.'

          [citation needed]

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: 'Google isn't abusing - or aiming to abuse - it's position.'

            Promoting your own products isn't abuse. Especially when you offer avenues for of the companies to promote their products, and you aren't locking customers in.

            Your personal hatred for Google doesn't make them abusive. It just makes you unable to be objective.

  11. MrHorizontal

    Strictly speaking, if Google continue to trade in the EU, ie actually earn money and then do the double-dutch-irish-chocolate-starfish tax thing, then theoretically all EU-facing services of Google are subjected to the breakup...

    I think this is more to do with tax, and somehow the EU is saying: "either pay up (tax) or break up (services)"

    1. John Tserkezis

      "then do the double-dutch-irish-chocolate-starfish tax thing,"

      So if you don't like the way corporations do the "double-dutch-irish-chocolate-starfish tax thing", then stop whining, pull your finger out, get off your arse and convince your beloved government to do something about it - they're the ones who created the "double-dutch-irish-chocolate-starfish tax thing" after all.

    2. FlatEarther

      Double Dutch Irish Jean-Claude Juncker thing

      "then do the double-dutch-irish-chocolate-starfish tax thing"

      That thing often involves routing the money through Luxembourg. The Luxembourg tax treatment was developed and continued to operate while Jean-Claude Juncker was prime minister of Luxembourg.

      Of course, currently he's president of the EU commission, so he's sure to stop all the dodgy tax arrangements.

  12. MustyMusgrave
    Linux

    @ McWibble

    Yes & iOS is proprietary, same as android is proprietary, niether one respect's either your Freedoms or Privacy!

    Can you remove either from your device without violation the end user license agreement? The answer is no not always... If you love your machine you should be able to choose what runs on it and if you support the developer's you should donate to the EFF to keep it free!

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      It didn't violate my EULA to blow away Android and put Cyanogenmod on it. Though my service provider said they can't provide me technical support, because they don't keep staff on hand that know Cyanogenmod. That's fair enough; that's what I pay Cyanogenmod for. And that's between my and my mobile provider anyways; Google's not involved in that discussion at all.

  13. MustyMusgrave

    90%

    @McWibble a 90% market share is excessive by anyones standards and if there was nothing left of the internet BUT Google for as far as the eye could see, I would cease to PAY for an internet connection and have it promptly removed from my house along with the rest of there proprietary technology!

    You dont need the INTERNET to run an INTERNAT!

    One is EXTERNAL and the other is INTERNAL and you sure as hell dont have to tollerate Google and it's irk, if you want to send communicate with your mate's down the road!

    1. John Tserkezis

      Re: 90%

      "You dont need the INTERNET to run an INTERNAT!"

      One of the truly wonderful things about the Internet, is that it is, without any shadow of a doubt, an equal-opportunity entity.

      Anyone, regardless of the state of their brain, will be let on and converse with everyone else. (Palm on heart) I really am honoured and proud to be a part of it.

      Now, if you'll all excuse me, I have to leave to go to another planet.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: 90%

      " a 90% market share is excessive by anyones standards "

      No it's not. There are lots of things with that level or higher market share. It's called excellence. Maybe, if you were excellent at something, you'd be able to achieve similar results.

    3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: 90%

      a 90% market share is excessive by anyones standards

      Not exactly. There are plenty of markets where one company has 90% or higher market share. It's what that company does when they have such a high market share is what's important.

      If that company deliberately destroys and makes it hard for all other entrants into the market through lock-in policies, proprietry information / technology and just generally fleeces their customers that is bad. If, on the other hand, that company tries hard to stay at the top by providing better services and better prices (running at a loss is considerd unfair) than its competitors than that is good (it's also basically only of the noble aims of capitalism).

  14. Tomas

    Google should temp block EU IPs...

    When the EU commission gets too obnoxious, Google should simply block all EU IPs for a week, and see who survives the outrage from users... ;)

    Or maybe simply shut down all the regional Google Search URLs and force folks to use the non-localized US servers. Google could easily argue that the commission makes it too difficult to do business in the EU, so there will be no EU sites/servers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google should temp block EU IPs...

      I for one like the fact that Google gets a good kicking in their NSA financed nads. It is long overdue.

      If Google (or any entity for that matter) wants to do business in the EU, they have to play it by the EU book. No one invited Google (or Facebook or Twitter or any other subsidiary of the NSA) in. They came here voluntarily, to make money: a substantial part of Google's profit comes from Europe.

      It is high time Europe stops being a US digital backyard. To put a stop to the abuse of their monopoly and dumping their monopoly financed products like Android is a good start! And the EU is the only organisation that has the balls to do that. National governments, like the call me Daves in the UK will never do that.

      If Google would block EU based users because the European Parliament is too obnoxious for them then I could certainly live with that. At last we would have some fair competition and European businesses would get the chance that the Merikan kind of predator capitalism is seeking to deny them.

      Anonymous for obvious reasons

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Google should temp block EU IPs...

        "It is high time Europe stops being a US digital backyard. "

        100% agree. So when are they going to stop with this "break up Google" foolishness and start work on developing software and services that excel, and thus compete with Google? Hmm?

        Hating America - and I doubt very much you hate them more than I - is not a rational or valid reason to kick Google in the goolies. if you want Google out of your backyard, build something that's actually competitive. You've got eleventy billion governments over there. Get some fucking grants going!

    2. Captain Caveman

      Re: Google should temp block EU IPs...

      And lose immediate market share as people leave to use other services due to this tactic? Probably have shareholders bouncing off the walls which would immediately reduce the share price and therefore the net worth of the company. Add to this all the ad revenue that disappears due to this and the number of companies sueing for them pulling the ad services when they've already paid for it... Would probably be safer for them to say Yes to the EU and we'll look into it and will take 5 years to complete in which case they have a new model that provides the same thing but isnt bound by that particular EU ruling.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        @Captain Caveman

        Google can weather a share price drop.

        I doubt very much if the EU can weather the resultant economic downturn as all their businesses cease to be competitive with their global peers overnight. The resulting shitstorm will not hit Google, it will destroy the careers of the politicians in question.

        If there are alternatives that actually work, let the government promote them and let the people decide.

        I suspect I know which they'll choose.

  15. Cuddles Silver badge

    Unbundle search engines from commercial services?

    This statement seems to make the rather odd assumption that search engines are not, in fact, commercial services themselves. What, does the EU believe that Google and others just provide search services out of the goodness of their hearts, and that they'll continue to provide them if forbidden to ever make any money off them? It could make sense if they were a little more specific about distinguishing searching from other services, similar to the Windows/IE issue mentioned by others above, but as it stands the statement is simply nonsense.

  16. Teiwaz Silver badge

    I they wanted to do something useful...

    Make a ruling that the EU switch to Linux and Open Source exclusively, promote open standards and declare that all EU member governments do the same by a certain date.

    This at least they have the power to do.

    All else is bullshit political manourvering, breakup Google indeed, I think this is just about thumbing noses at the US.

  17. b166er

    Well Schmidt did say he welcomed promises by international leaders to crack down on tax loopholes.

    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/may/19/google-eric-schmidt-tax-loopholes

    This is one way to do that.

  18. richard_w

    so use duckduckgo if you must use a different search engine. No ads there crappy searches too

  19. David 138

    I wish they would break up the European parliament.

    Just because there are no decent alternatives to a product doesn't mean it abuses its power. Also doesn't everyone hate search engine results that lead to search engine results?

  20. Phil_Evans

    We've Bing here before

    Didn't the EU commission try to de-construct computing before by aiming their ire at the world's most popular web browser (as was then)? Then towards breaking up the company that owned the desktop?

    It could be argued that Microsoft as the incumbent stifled the innovation of future browsers, but then again it didn't seem to help OR hinder Mozilla or Google in creating theirs.

    Microsoft could have owned the search engine market at exactly the time that Google was getting started. as could Alta Vista, Compuserve, and a host of other carpet slippers at the time.

    Given that most search engines are now buried in apps and federations, I don't see really what's to be achieved by attacking Google in this particular fashion. But then I am a capitalist.

  21. Valerion

    Dumb

    By definition now, a search engine is not allowed (in their eyes) to be "commercial"? So a search engine cannot make money? How does it survive? I've no idea how much it costs Google to run search, but I'd imagine it's in the billions of dollars yearly now.

    And I also don't see this is any different to my in-flight magazine. I picked that up the other week to see what was for sale. And don't you know everything was being sold by BA! They had no option to buy anything from Emirates duty free at all! Outrageous!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dumb

      "By definition now, a search engine is not allowed (in their eyes) to be "commercial"? "

      No that's not the case. One of the guys that supported the motion describe it like this:

      European enterprises are being damaged and eliminated so this is why the Commission launched this antitrust case against Google four years ago but the solutions proposed by Google do not solve this…of course, Google is a private company and not a public service so it has the right to become the dominant force in the market but it's not (correct) that Google becomes the only enterprise and eliminates all the competitors in Europe,"

      See?

      I wouldn't call that dumb, I'd call it looking after your own (European as opposed to non-European) interests. Isn't that what states should be doing, looking after the interests of their citizens? And since no one else (not the merkikan politicians they are purely looking after their own interests, and not the European state governments) seems to be doing this, the EU takes this initiative.

      I cannot see what is wrong with some honest competition in a market that - competition wise - is clearly not functioning as it should be.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Dumb

        So build some fucking alternatives.

        Google is dominant because nobody else is capable. breaking up a company "Because protectionism" sets a horrible precedent and will seriously hinder international investment in the EU. In turn, that will leave EU companies unable to compete with their global counterparts.

        The solution here is investment in innovation and promotion of alternatives. Throw money at retaining and concentrating smart people until a better mousetrap emerges. If China can do it, why the hell is Europe so fucking incapable?

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