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 …

  1. EddieD

    "We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.”

    Translation: "You bastards. You're never going to see this money as we're going to spend at least as much as the fine, if not more, keeping it in the courts using every delaying tactic our highly paid lawyers can think up, for ever and ever and ever, or at least, until hopefully the time when EU disappears up its own arse".

    EDIT: I'm pleased with the EU for recognising the unfair leverage that companies including Google can wield, but fines cannot be a solution, as there are too many way that such behemoths can mitigate such paltry amounts - Alphabet had revenues of 90Bn last year. Other solutions which block these strategies, up to and including e.g. blocking the websites offending, have to be considered.

    1. Mike Shepherd

      "Alphabet had revenues of 90Bn last year". Revenue is not profit and the court hasn't said "This is our final settlement": these fines can be applied again and again, if needed.

      "Other solutions...have to be considered". No, courts have standard means by which penalties are imposed e.g. fines or (for criminal cases) imprisonment (or worse, in some countries). Although other means may be available to the court, they don't "have" to use them to suit you or the defendant.

      1. Andromeda451

        Possible solution

        Google pulls up all stakes in the EU, drifts back across the pond. Blocks all EU access to its services and lets the bureaucrat dictators in the EU eat cake.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Possible solution

          ...might encourage the EU to start developing it's own services instead of everybody relying upon the caprices of an American company, and then moaning about it.

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Possible solution

          Google is welcome to pull out of Europe. They are quite a good search engine, but they make a lot more money out of Europe than Europe makes out of them. They are also free to pull out of China, where they are treated far more badly than in the EU, but funnily enough they are willing to put up with that, too.

          It's only politicians who believe that their country's businesses can dis-engage with the rest of humanity and somehow come out stronger. Everyone who is actually in business thinks it is a daft idea.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Possible solution

            "They are also free to pull out of China, where they are treated far more badly than in the EU, but funnily enough they are willing to put up with that, too."

            Google did pull out of China. Packed up and left rather than turn over data to the Chinese gov't. All of the Google bashers should consider that fact... how many other companies in the world would have turned away billions bc they did like what the gov't was up to in a particular country? The vast majority of businesses would have given the gov't whatever they wanted for access to the market.

        3. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: Possible solution

          Google pulls up all stakes in the EU, drifts back across the pond. Blocks all EU access to its services and lets the bureaucrat dictators in the EU eat cake.

          Cool. Can they block all access to NZ as well? That way we'd be able to shift people to better quality search tools rather than Google shifting our private data to their systems though fair means and foul.

          In fact, what would be really cool if Google was to build a YEEEUGE wall around their campus in the US, take all their staff in there, cut all outside connections, and then they can sit on their piles of ill-gotten cash and happily affirm to each other just how great they all are while the rest of the world gets on with some real innovation!

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      EddieD,

      Why get angry, before you've even been offended?

      Google can't push this through the courts for years and years. There's only one avenue of appeal, and that's it. They can appeal to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg - which is the EU's highest court and after that there's nowhere else to go. After the Commission fined Microsoft, they'd appealed and lost within 2 years. I'm sure it'll be similar with Google.

      This isn't like the Apple / Samsung dispute that took place in a court in California, where there were all sorts of levels to appeal through. In this case the Commission is acting in a quasi-judicial role, and then then there's only one place to go.

      1. Andromeda451

        ah yes

        But if I were Google I'd pull up stakes, block all EU access and let the dictators in Belgium be hoisted on their own petard.

      2. Curtis

        Ahh, but you're thinking legally. Google doesn't have to operate in "the old ways"

        Were I them, I'd be looking at elections and "Search Engine Optimization" to get more "reliable" persons into positions of power. Persons who can then make more friendly decisions to them.

    3. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      Re: but fines cannot be a solution

      Because it won't be many days until the US authorities find a European business, it doesn't matter who, and lob a retaliatory fine in their direction.

      1. KERMIE

        Re: but fines cannot be a solution

        USA already fined EU companies in case news have did not reach you.

        USA fined Deutsche Bank for $7.2 billion

        USA fined GERMAN company VW for $4.3 billion

        1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

          Re: but fines cannot be a solution

          USA already fined EU companies in case news have did not reach you.

          oh and BP before that.

          But who'll be next?

          The thing about retaliation is that it tends to escalate.

          1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

            Re: retaliation

            Oh well, it seems the FT agree with me at least.

        2. GotThumbs
          Mushroom

          Re: but fines cannot be a solution

          VW fined for circumventing US Emissions.

          Deutsche Bank Pay $7.2 Billion for Misleading Investors in its Sale of Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities.

          Big difference.

          How many times has EU "Fined" (extorted) money from US software/service companies?

          Dozens and more.

          Microsoft NEVER prevented users from installing and using Netscape...yet EU fined MS because IE was default browser. Are EU residents so stupid...or do they just not understand FREEDOM of choice?

          1. Mark 65 Silver badge

            Re: but fines cannot be a solution

            Microsoft NEVER prevented users from installing and using Netscape

            I believe that, on more than one occasion, updates that were installed on users machines via the usual patching process decided to set IE back to the default browser. That right there is a breach. The user made their "FREEDOM of choice" selection and MS decided "no thanks".

            MS were a massive abuser of monopoly power especially when it came to PC manufacturers installing the OS by default - have a little read through history of the shit they pulled for that to occur.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: but fines cannot be a solution

        "Because it won't be many days until the US authorities find a European business, it doesn't matter who, and lob a retaliatory fine in their direction."

        Trump will probably invade Belgium. The EU just screwed up big league, believe me.

      3. felixk

        Re: but fines cannot be a solution

        > Because US authorities [will] find a European business […]

        > and lob a retaliatory fine in their direction.

        The difference is that the US have a real court system. Milked, bilked and amazingly abused by lawyers, granted; but what the US do not have is a political, completely unelected, body of slimy politicians in a position to play prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. Oh, and the European Commission is also the owner of the slush fund that the fine will flow into. O happy coincidence!

        Born and bred European, and I cannot tell you how disgusting the whole bunch of them are, up there in Brussels.

      4. GotThumbs

        Re: but fines cannot be a solution

        "the US authorities find a European business"

        LOL.

        Please name one successful European business.

    4. Oh Homer

      How have I been harmed, exactly?

      Apparently I've just been brutally violated by some evil corporation, but never even noticed.

      Sneaky bastards.

      [Checks underpants]

      Nope, all my bits are still present and correct.

      So I googled for "how has google harmed me today", but just got a bunch of news stories all saying basically the same thing, that Google is evil and must be crucified.

      But, for the life of me, I still can't figures out exactly how I've been harmed.

      Whatever it was, it must've been pretty bad to warrant beeelions in fines, Shirley.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: How have I been harmed, exactly?

        Oh Homer,

        If you want to know how you've been violated, take a look at Google's privacy policies.

        But this case wasn't about that, or about harm to you. This case was about harm to shopping price comparison sites - who were trying to make a buck in the market a few years ago and got unfairly (at least according to the EU) muscled out by Google. The argument being that Google's price comparison was crap at the time (which it was), and yet they got all the clicks when the actually popular and quite useful sites started slipping down the Google rankings.

        I'm not sure how fair that is, because I didn't find many price comparison sites to be much cop, and so mostly gave up on them - but I do remember Google's being worse than the couple I was using back around 2005.

        1. GotThumbs
          Boffin

          Re: How have I been harmed, exactly?

          You are FREE to chose NOT to use Googles Free services.

          just use a different search engine.

          How about using an EU companies search engine....if there are any.

          It's simple. EU needs other people's money.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How have I been harmed, exactly?

        Try reading the judgment, it will detail exactly how you have been harmed.

        In the meantime, feel free to think wonderful Google/Alphabet are and how you could never live without them, I'm sure they will love you back just as much.

        1. Oh Homer
          Headmaster

          Re: "wonderful Google"

          My lack of outrage at something that has zero impact on my life (or anyone else's life, for that matter, beyond a handful of companies I have no interest in) is not somehow equivocal to an undying devotion to the company that supposedly harmed them. Quite the opposite, in fact, I find fanboyism a rather odd affliction. I fail to understand why anyone would have any interest in the success or failure of somebody else's business.

          Equally, I find it very odd that Google should be fined vast sums for something that is, it seems to me, quite trivial, especially when there are far greater corporate crimes that cause significantly more harm to more people (or indeed something that could genuinely be characterised as harm of any sort, at least of the sort that actually matters).

          As with any other product or service, if I have an actual need for it then I'll go looking for it. Having them shoved in my face in an unsolicited manner is something I'd describe as abuse, specifically spam. The fact that Google apparently failed to spam me with third party services I have no interest in is something I actually consider a benefit.

          Moreover, I really don't see how it can be legally incumbent upon Google, or any other company, to spend money promoting competitors' services. That's just bizarre, frankly.

          But anyway, I'm pretty sure the whole point of competition law is to protect consumers, and, like I said, I'm struggling to see how I or any other consumer has genuinely been harmed by Google's billion-euro crime.

      3. dajames Silver badge

        Re: How have I been harmed, exactly?

        But, for the life of me, I still can't figures out exactly how I've been harmed.

        You haven't, not directly anyway. The harm that has been suffered has been suffered by the price comparison and shopping sites that might have appeared higher up in the lists on Google's search results had Google not put their own selection at the top.

        Those price comparison and shopping sites would claim that as punters went to the Google-preferred sites at the top of the list it was those sites whose adverts got all the clicks, and that the sites that were not preferred therefore suffered a loss of advertising revenue. Without that revenue, they would say, they were unable to compete effectively with Google's preferred sites and offer you, the punter, an effective choice of price comparison and shopping sites.

        Google might counter that by saying that the preferred sites, because they get more clicks and so more advertising revenue, are better able to invest in the development of truly superlative .... price comparison and shopping sites.

        You, on the other hand, might think that they're all parasites, anyway and should go and get a real job rather than preying on online shoppers with their annoying adverts.

        1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

          Re: How have I been harmed, exactly?

          Those price comparison and shopping sites would claim

          But I've never asked Google to tell me who can tell where to buy something, I've always asked Google to tell me. So if they are returning links to other comparison sites they aren't doing what I asked for.

          If I type in a query saying "Who can tell me where the cheapest place to buy an OkiKoky2000" then they should be returning hits on price comparison sites.

          If I type in a query saying "Where the cheapest place to buy an OkiKoky2000" I rather expect them to tell me not say "I'm not allowed to say but I know some other people who are".

      4. Kiwi Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: How have I been harmed, exactly?

        But, for the life of me, I still can't figures out exactly how I've been harmed.

        That local shop who would've sold you the product for much the same price, but you would've had it sooner and with much better service? Well, you don't see them in your search because Google has decided their page doesn't display correctly on a smartwatch, therefore they must be demoted to page 11.

        Meanwhile, although Google's sites aren't exactly as "mobile friendly" as other places, their own service somehow takes the top spot and a few others, meaning you don't get to see other options.

        That local store - the owner would've had money to spend locally, perhaps with your firm. Instead your money went elsewhere.

        (I am a very firm supporter of "buy locally where possible" because it keeps your countryfolk in work, and if your countryfolk have money to spend they spend it in your store - if everyone ships money to Google/Amazon/Ali Express, we have nothing left to spend locally, local jobs suffer...)

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How have I been harmed, exactly?

        "But, for the life of me, I still can't figures out exactly how I've been harmed."

        Exactly. For all these people saying Google has cost them money or is greedy, I can't find one who has ever paid Google any money... despite using their software/services all day.

        It's pretty easy to find ways that Google has saved the average person money. Google did do the world a massive service. If not for Android, you would likely have a Windows Phone in your pocket (or an iPhone). You would be paying for that license. Without Google making it easy for publisher to get ad sponsorship, many if not most of the sites you visit would have paywalls where they asked you for some amount of money per month to view their content. Google has saved the average person a ton of cash.... Likewise on the corporate side. Hadoop would likely not exist without Google, much of the popular open source software would not exist.

        1. John Lilburne Silver badge

          Re: How have I been harmed, exactly?

          For most sites that you visit ad sponsorship is irrelevant it pays pennies, which is why they are all trying to stop adblockers so that they can at least scrape a few shekels. Do you not see all the whines on the news sites employing you to take out a subscription? Almost every content creator and content creating site has lost out since they were conned into believing that ad sponsorship was a thing.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: How have I been harmed, exactly?

            "Do you not see all the whines on the news sites employing you to take out a subscription? Almost every content creator and content creating site has lost out since they were conned into believing that ad sponsorship was a thing."

            Depends on who we are talking about when we say "content creator." If we are talking about El Reg, it is definitely a positive to have ad sponsorship as they would likely have not existed in print form... or would have had a small circulation in a limited geo. Likewise with all of the smaller publishers. You can do very nicely if you are a few people with a site with ads.

            If we are talking about News Corp (giant multi-national right wing media corporation), yeah, they hate this Google ad sponsorship stuff. They made way more money when there were about 6 places to get the news (giant media corps) and they had direct ad relationships.

            That's one of the best parts about Google ad sponsored content. It works well for the little guy, who would not have had a publication in the 70s or 80s at all. It works poorly for the News Corps of the world who used to dominate media and limit news and information sources.

    5. KERMIE

      it's not just the fine, Google also has to stop doing the things it was fined for

    6. Elfo74
      WTF?

      Didn't even realize...

      ...that google had a price comparison site.

      Seriously! I heard bout it here first!

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It seems to be selective prosecution though... Cisco has a dominant position in networking, Microsoft has a dominant position in PC OSs and productivity, Oracle in DB, IBM with mainframe, Facebook with social networking, Amazon with online retail and now, arguably, cloud. All of these companies have used their positions to limit competitors... The tech industry is nothing but dominant position companies... So why Google now and MSFT with Windows in the 90s, for instance, was ndb.

      1. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Microsoft has been dealt with, on the others you're generally wrong. Juniper, Sql Server/PostgreSQL/MySql etc, Cray, and who fucking cares about social networking.

        You need to understand just what level of market share Google has and hence how much power it has in order to appreciate you then get to play by a special set of regulatory rules due to that power. MS found out in the past.

        Why Google now and MSFT in the 90s? Errr, not sure but I'm guessing that's when they offended.

    8. Public Citizen

      The stated amount of the fine represents roughly 3% of Alphabets cash on hand.

      To put that in terms relateable to an individuals finances it's about what one would spend on a trip to the local coffee bar.

      If the Courts and Legislatures wish to make fines roughly proportional to those levied against individuals then they need to express those fines levied against these Mega-Monopolies in terms of Net Worth or Earnings. We see a first step in that direction described in the potential fines that Google will be facing if they don't have corrective actions acceptable to the Court in place within 90 days.

    9. GotThumbs
      Paris Hilton

      " behemoths can mitigate such paltry amounts "

      How about Google simply close it's EU business and all the services it provides?

  2. Stuart 22
    Trollface

    Pesky Euros

    'But in two years time when we have made 'Britain Great Again' won't we be able to levy even much bigger, faster proper sterling fines to be paid in used threepenny bits to the BoE in person?

    Or possibly not? Discuss.

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Pesky Euros

      Pip pip. and if they don't pay up, we'll send a gunboat.

      1. John G Imrie Silver badge

        Re: Pesky Euros

        Pip pip. and if they don't pay up, we'll send a the gunboat.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Pesky Euros

          Pip pip. and if they don't pay up, we'll send a the gunboat.

          Except that since the deal with the DUP there isn't enough money for the guns so it'll have to be Regents Park Paddling pool's finest unarmed pedalo*.

          * Credit Alan Coren and John Bird.

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Pesky Euros

            "Except that since the deal with the DUP"

            Already sorted. The price for the I'm-Legally-Allowed-Here cards will be £286 each. How do I calculate this? Easy. One billion quid to the DUP, divided by three and a half million foreigners. Sorted.

            1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

              Re: Pesky Euros

              "One billion quid to the DUP, divided by three and a half million foreigners."

              You are assuming that these foreigners will be willing to pay. Many won't, which will push up the price of the cards, so many more won't, until eventually the one who really wants to stay is stiffed for a cool DUP for the bit of card they need.

              1. heyrick Silver badge

                Re: Pesky Euros

                "You are assuming that these foreigners will be willing to pay."

                I wasn't aware that legislation was optional (except for the wealthy). Many have already paid for a useless thing, and will be expected to pay some more.

        2. Whit.I.Are

          Re: Pesky Euros

          So that's what our spanking new aircraft carrier is for...

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Pesky Euros

        Pip pip. and if they don't pay up, we'll send a gunboat.

        Even if we have to borrow one from our friends in the US or Saudi Arabia..

    2. 0laf Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Pesky Euros

      Our fines will be stronger and more stable

    3. Lord Schwindratzheim
      Trollface

      Re: Pesky Euros

      No, we'll be too busy giving Google sweetheart tax breaks and other big business friendly "advantages"

      1. Stuart 22

        Re: Pesky Euros

        No, we'll be too busy giving Google sweetheart tax breaks and other big business friendly "advantages"

        Are you seriously suggesting 'Ard Man David Davis is going to settle for anything less than a 30 bob note?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That is just the shopping

    There is the Android fine to follow.

    And suddenly it's day again.

    The sun is in the east

    Even though the day is done.

    Two suns in the sunset...

    The knitted elephant lady has gone nuclear this time.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ouch!

    Oh well, even more advertising shoved down the throats of all of us will soon pay that piddling little amount.

    Google? Just say no (like Drugs)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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).

  5. Alister Silver badge

    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.

    1. Arctic fox
      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.

    2. naive

      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.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Trollface

        @naive

        You are well named Sir.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        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.

      3. 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.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          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 ...

        2. heyrick Silver badge

          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...

      4. Anonymous Coward
        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...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              @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%...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                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.

            2. Keven E

              Questioning social worth

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

              Well done, AC

        2. Public Citizen
          Thumb Up

          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.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          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.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            @AC

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

      5. Lars Silver badge
        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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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 :).

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            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.

            1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              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.

              1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

                "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.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  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...

                  1. Kiwi Silver badge

                    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.

                2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

                  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.

              2. heyrick Silver badge

                "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...

                1. Kiwi Silver badge

                  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.

              3. Kiwi Silver badge

                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.

              4. John Lilburne 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.

      6. inmypjs Silver badge

        "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.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          "

          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?

          1. Jan 0

            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.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              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!

              1. bazza Silver badge

                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).

                1. heyrick Silver badge
                  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.

                2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

                  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.

            2. Kiwi Silver badge

              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)

              1. inmypjs Silver badge

                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.

                1. Kiwi Silver badge

                  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>]

          2. inmypjs Silver badge

            "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%.

      7. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        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.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          @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.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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.

      8. Steve Lee

        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...

  6. Detective Emil
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  7. Eguro
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tax Dodging

        Dear HMRC,

        Please feel free to join in the Act. I'm sure that there must be some incriminating documents at the Alphabet (ex nokia ) place just off the M3 in Farnborough. Make the likes of Google play proper tax from the day we leave the EU. They won't be able to hide then. That might get the NHS that missing £huge sum promised by Darling Nigel F before the vote.

        If you can't tax these companies like you screw UK based ones into the ground at the merest hint of any wrongdoing, then why the heck are we leaving the EU anyway?

        1. ewan 3

          Re: Tax Dodging

          The alphabet place in farnborough <> google. They're a car leasing firm.

        2. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Tax Dodging

          Most UK companies (of decent size / with good evasive accountants) pay very little tax, it's only the smaller companies without corrupt accountants bouncing cash around via offshore trusts, loans, franchises etc that pay anything approaching reasonable tax.

          UK taxation (be it personal or business) only hits the "poor" - your rich individuals or companies, get the tax evasion accountancy specialists to screw the UKs tax receipts.

          (Yes I know the accountants will use weasel words like tax efficiency, avoidance) and say evasion is only for "illegal" things, but as UK tax rules have so many millions of lines of regulations, and hence umpteen loopholes, then the line between efficiency & evasion is minimal, as the "efficiencies" are against the spirit of the law, even if they weedle a technicality to make it "legal").

          It's very wring when there have been years where many individuals on PAYE have paid more in a tax year than Starbucks

        3. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Tax Dodging

          "then why the heck are we leaving the EU anyway?"

          Because the "real elite" (think of media moguls and owners/editors of certain Tory friendly newspapers) didn't want the EU to pry into their tax evasion?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Mushroom

      Re: The aftermath will be interesting

      Guts?

      IMO, The EU is just finding excuses to get their hands on other peoples money.

      I'd like to see Google shut down all it's free services and lay off all it's EU employees (ie EU Taxpayers).

      Let the EU come up with it's own.....since they can't seem to do it still.

      Where are the EU competitors? On holiday or off for the rest of the day I suppose.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The aftermath will be interesting

      The EU is constantly doing this sort of grandstanding. Hardly the first time.

      What are the odds that if Google was a German company the EU would have an issue... or would they throw a parade in their honor as all that is good and brave innovators? Not saying they are specifically targeting them because they are American, just saying they would definitely not be targeting them if they were from the EU.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google are uncompetitive in a number of ways but I'm in two minds about this one. If I search for holidays I get search results with paid for ads showing me companies selling holidays at the top and on the side.

    If I search for a product I get paid for ads showing me that product at the top and/or the side, but this time it also includes a picture and a price.

    So is it the fact it has a picture and a price, is it that companies selling things shouldn't be able to advertise on Google search, or the fact that there is a little grey link below which states "More on Google" which would take me to Google Shopping?

    I don't really care too much about Google shopping as long as Google isn't forced to have those crappy meta search shopping engines dominating every search through their SEO tactics - which was making Google Search unusable when trying to find information or reviews rather than buy a product.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you search for our village, you quite rightly get the most popular searches, but wait whats that?

      A huge big section on the right hand side, showing Google maps, the Google reviews and Google+ profile? So that's the 3 very old reviews, despite masses more up to date ones ones on Trip Advisor, the Google+ profile that until recently had 1 single post, yet ignores the very active Facebook profiles...

      Hmmmm

      Yes we can rig the result by stuffing the Google+ and Reviews with posts, but it's hardly the point.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well, this is about shopping not reviews, so it seems unrelated to this particular complaint.

        However I would say Tripadvisor is much bigger than Google for reviews of places and holidays so it would seem that Google aren't getting a significant advantage when the alternative products are much better.

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      Go

      It's not so much that Google are showing pictures for what you've searched or the link that is the Problem here, but that it is those pictures with associated links are for links which Google has been paid to Show. AND they take up MOST of your Screen real estate. The actual best product and price for what you've searched (and it's associated link) is more then likely two thirds of the way down your Screen (or even off your Screen), and is most likely only a bit of text and so easily missed. If you've removed the paid Advertising, then it would be at number one, as it is the best link.

      That is the Problem. Google have positioned themselves as the world's search engine. But because of a little thing called competition and antitrust laws, they Need to Play fair, and that means giving equal space and time in results to those that have paid them and those that dont...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So Google should be allowed to have sponsored/paid links around their search results? That's ridiculous - if that is the finding of the EU then it shows how barmy they are.

        Free links are free, or a company can pay for sponsored links. As long as the paid links aren't hidden inside the organic links then this is the generally accepted business model.

        If I start a new company selling widgets then just because they are the best widget ever (IMHO) doesn't mean that Googel should actively send me to the top of all links just because I say so. I have t build my reputation and my website and content along with a bit of White Hat SEO. If I want to skip that and pay Google money for a sponsored link then I can also do that and go in their sponsored area - it's been like that since almost the beginning of Google and most search engines.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          "If I start a new company selling widgets then just because they are the best widget ever (IMHO) doesn't mean that Googel should actively send me to the top of all links just because I say so."

          But it's ok for Google to start a widget business that sells poor quality widgets and put themselves at the top of the search results? Because that's what they're being fined for.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "But it's ok for Google to start a widget business that sells poor quality widgets and put themselves at the top of the search results? Because that's what they're being fined for."

            No they aren't they are putting paid links from third parties at the top of the results. Google don't sell any of the products that appear in the shopping links or make any of those products (unless you specifically search for something like a Chromecast).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Sellable reputation

          "... along with a bit of White Hat SEO."

          "White" because it serves search engines in the way they expect? For fairness? Not really.

          There's nothing specifically *black about me adding the words "shop here (sic-whatever)" once a day to my never ending list, just to make sure bots see new content. Yet, crackloads of bots trolling the web looking for content aren't specifically designed *white either.

          Is this a simple chicken-egg question? Has an attempt been made to actually remove survival of the fittest from information processing? Sounds like propaganda at best.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        you must be a student voter for corbyn who actually believes uni fees will be re-funded

        Google have positioned themselves as the world's search engine. But because of a little thing called competition and antitrust laws, they Need to Play fair, and that means giving equal space and time in results to those that have paid them and those that dont..."

        Am sorry but what a load of absolute twaddle

        It's a private service, they can fund it as they see fit through advertising or making you pay a monthly subscription if you would be willing to pay. If you don;t like their ads you can use another service, also ad supported but with less users so less advertising.

        To my knowledge, there isn't a premium paid for search service out there with no ads.

        Seems to me like the EU is closing the stable door after the horse has bolted as usual, just as with microsoft.

        Currently google lets retailers buy ads in google shopping on a cpc basis just the same as adwords except the advertiser has to provide even more structured data .. google shopping is not a price comparison site, it's a filterable db of paid shopping ads from retailers and brand owners who sell direct.

        However, back in the day, google shopping was free to merchants to upload their product dbs to so i guess you could argue in 2008/9 when google shopping was not all paid ads, they were abusing their position to promote their own price comparison service over competitors'. Some years ago they changed their approach and this is now all biddable cpc ads. I struggle to see the anitrust case there today.

    3. Keven E

      "..which was making Google Search unusable when trying to find information or reviews rather than buy a product."

      Which is why I do most information hunting on wiki first...

    4. GotThumbs
      Mushroom

      No one is forced to use Google Search.

      Where is the EU competitor to Google Search?

      On holiday?

      EU simply finding ways to leach other people's money.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next up -Microsoft...

    The regulator found that Google had abused its market dominance as a search engine "by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product,"

    Microsoft are constantly trying to force me to use Edge and Bing, just because I use Windows... How is that ANY different?

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Next up -Microsoft...

      "Microsoft are constantly trying to force me to use Edge and Bing, just because I use Windows... How is that ANY different?"

      Microsoft had their own anti-trust lawsuit from the EU years ago, where they had to give you a choice. However that's since expired, and now you're seeing a company ignoring the lessons it should've learnt the last time it pulled those tricks.

      1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        Re: Next up -Microsoft...

        "Microsoft had their own anti-trust lawsuit from the EU years ago, where they had to give you a choice. However that's since expired, and now you're seeing a company ignoring the lessons it should've learnt the last time it pulled those tricks."

        From July 2012, Microsoft "forgot" to offer browser choice

        According to this El Reg article the browser choice was supposed to go live in March 2010, but neither version of Windows 7 I bought later that year actually contained that choice.

        P.S. When the "browser ballot" finally arrived, the choices were well out of date.

    2. Arctic fox
      Thumb Down

      Re: Next up -Microsoft...

      Point 1.

      Here on El Reg one cannot possibly argue that Microsoft's sins get a free pass. Just look at any thread connected to any article at all concerning what Redmond are doing.

      Point 2.

      Have you forgotten how the EU regulators reacted when Microsoft fucked up with regard to their agreement over how browser choice should be presented within the European market? Redmond got slapped (deservedly) with an enormous fine.

      Point 3.

      Your post was irrelevant "whataboutery".

      1. King Jack
        WTF?

        Re: Next up -Microsoft...

        Point 3.

        M$ are doing a similar thing TODAY. Forcing Edge and even intercepting local searches to Bing. The have not learned anything except that if you break the law you have a few years to benefit from your crime and so called big fine will still see you in profit. That is why they will always pull that shit.

        1. Mark 110 Silver badge

          Re: Next up -Microsoft...

          In what way are they "forcing Edge". I was asked once if I wanted it to be my default browser. I said no. They never asked me again. Such a bizarre comment . ..

          1. Adam 52 Silver badge

            Re: Next up -Microsoft...

            "In what way are they "forcing Edge". I was asked once if I wanted it to be my default browser. I said no. They never asked me again"

            Ever tried viewing a pdf document on Windows 10?

            1. Sandtitz Silver badge
              WTF?

              Re: Next up -Microsoft... @Adam 52

              "Ever tried viewing a pdf document on Windows 10?"

              Yes. And?

              Edge has a capability to show PDF documents and is the default PDF handler in vanilla Windows installation. I'm sure there is no current popular OS available that can't handle PDF's upon installation via a (web) browser.

              In Windows 10 (and others) If you have installed a software the is able to show PDF docs, e.g. Chrome/Acrobat/Firefox, then you can make it the default application for PDFs with the "set default programs" widget in Control Panel.

              There is no conspiracy.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Next up -Microsoft...

        "Redmond got slapped (deservedly) with an enormous fine."

        Yeah, for browser choice.... not Windows or Office.

        The thing that bugs me about this is that with Windows (prior to mobile and to some extent today) you had no choice but to use Windows, especially if you were a business. You needed to buy it at whatever price you were told to pay. That isn't at all true of Google today. If you don't like what they are doing, you can switch to Bing or Yahoo (brace yourself) and never use any Google service again. How many businesses are still forced to use Windows and pay through the nose for it? Whether they like it or not, they are going to use Windows 10. You don't have to, in theory or practice, use any Google service. There are viable options which you could switch to in 10 seconds and never look back.... Google wins because it is the best service, not due to lack of alternatives... and Google is who they go after? Just because it is fashionable for the EU to go after Google... if they went after Microsoft everyone would say "where were you on this 20 years ago?"

      3. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: Next up -Microsoft...

        Your post was irrelevant "whataboutery".

        Commonly brought up and argued in courts. It's called "Precedent". If a court rules in favour of one party, then later in another case someone can point to that as an indication of how the court can be expected to respond, eg "Well you let MS get away with their anti-competive behaviour".

        No, not particularly a fan of it, much prefer a case to be argued on its merits. It can be helpful to a judge to see how someone else considered a similar case though.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Next up -Microsoft...

      "Microsoft are constantly trying to force me to use Edge and Bing, just because I use Windows."

      Odd, my default is Firefox and I also have SRWare Iron running. My home pages are Startpage on all my browsers.

      So how exactly are they forcing you to use it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Next up -Microsoft...

        You are obviouly not using Windows 10S then. Edge and bing are the only game in town.

        {Happy Linux/MacOS user here so let the hatred begin}

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Next up -Microsoft...

          Are you seriously suggesting that Windows 10S will ever have a monopoly?

          Also isn't there precedent for this? Doesn't iOS force you to use Safari.

      2. benoliver999

        Re: Next up -Microsoft...

        They aren't... you can install another browser, just like you can scroll right past google shopping.

        1. Planty Bronze badge
          Stop

          Re: Next up -Microsoft...

          Microsoft use dirty tricks on win10 to route traffic via edge and bing (and in turn attempt to set defaults back we malware style accidental clicks) REGARDLESS OF YOUR BROWSER DEFAULT AND SEARCH DEFAULT.

          I get a call every other week from the mother in law saying the internet doesn't work properly, she ended up with crap edge bing again, and I have to set it all back. They play on unsuspecting punters to just give up eventually..

      3. Planty Bronze badge

        Re: Next up -Microsoft...

        Because if you use Windows 10, you will be finding Microsoft helpfully ignoring your preference, every now and again resetting your privacy settings, and forcing their own browser and search via start menu search...

        Try it out, run the latest win10 with swiron (or any browser) with all protocol and type handler's set to your default. The use start menu search for something. It will open in edge and bing. Totally ignoring your choice...

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Next up -Microsoft...

      "Microsoft are constantly trying to force me to use Edge and Bing, just because I use Windows... How is that ANY different?"

      Yes, other market abuses are available. But why do you expect a news article to deal with other issues which aren't in the news today (and if they were would have their own article)?

    5. graeme leggett

      Re: Next up -Microsoft...

      It's not different but it is Whataboutism.

      see also https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/tu-quoque

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Next up -Microsoft...

      "Microsoft are constantly trying to force me to use Edge and Bing, just because I use Windows... How is that ANY different?"

      Agree, when the regulators did nothing about Microsoft, they lost all credibility and any action they take looks arbitrary... Microsoft actively put down their competitors, e.g. Netscape and Lotus. Microsoft is currently injecting Bing in Windows, which you cannot change... and I guarantee you that no one would have selected Bing "on the merits", as the EU puts it. If they are going to apply these regulations, apply them evenly. It seems that it the results are just based on how good your connections are in the EU and what the backlash will be.

  10. Chika
    Holmes

    "We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.”

    Translation: Bollocks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Translation: Bollocks.

      Wow! Google Translate works!

      :)

  11. Daggerchild Silver badge

    Information Integration. How now?

    The Google Map snippets are next I guess.

    If the object sought consists mostly of metadata that is best displayed in a different manner (location = map, product category = product list) and other people make money from providing an interface to this data type (map providers, product comparison providers) then Google cannot integrate their metadata view directly into your search result as it favours their metadata provider (i.e. themselves).

    The problem, is nobody else can integrate their metadata search engine into Google's results. Nor is it entirely sane to demand it be possible. That leaves only one option: This system may not exist. Anywhere.

    So it is more or less forbidden for the public to have an integrated search system that morphs the result to match the best display form for the data form found.

    If the EU had provided a way to still make such a system possible I wouldn't be quite so annoyed, as the future was meant to be down that road, but now it's roadblocked. Forbidding unfairly integrated data assistants probably also has implications for Google Home/Alexa and those other speakerthings.

    I hope someone is tracking how much money all these competing shopping sites now make after the Google-integrated results are canned. I somehow doubt it'll be a Billion bucks...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    The EU and Google are very much alike, perhaps they should get married as they deserve each other.

  13. codejunky Silver badge

    Erm

    Assuming I am reading this right (and I hope I am not), google (a private business) is being fined because it shows its own products on its own website when people choose to use its search feature? Is that seriously what is being complained about?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Erm

      You may want to consider how the word "monopoly" changes things a little. (Edit: the phrase used is "abuse of market dominance" rather than monopoly)

      1. Robin Bradshaw

        Re: Erm

        They cant use the word monoply because despite the world not using it Bing exists and does the same thing, if your really desperate you could also use Yandex

    2. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Erm

      I'm no fan of Google in some ways, but I agree with this comment.

      Tesco advertises its own petrol stations in its supermarket car park too. Should they be told to give equal prominence to BP et. al. and other supermarkets?

      The reasoning seems to be that because "everybody" goes to Google first, they have acquired some responsibility to promote their competitors.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Erm

        It's very simple. You can legally have a monopoly. If you're the best at doing something and so everyone goes to you, it would be totally unfair to regulate your monopoly out of existence. So you get to keep it. After all the aim of this law is to protect the consumer, and we can assume that they all went to you for a reason.

        What you're not allowed to do is to use that monopoly (market dominance) in order to enter other markets. At which point it all becomes rather murky, as to what's being normally competitive and what's unfair competition.

        You don't need 100% control of a market to be defined as a monopoly, it can be less than 50%, it's about your market power.

        This case is also a bit weird of course, in that Google don't charge for search - and so the customers are the advertisers. Except that the ads are only going to get seen if people use search.

        The Microsoft example was a lot clearer. They were considered to have a monopoly with Windows, and were using that to push their browser. Even though Netscape had a nice business charging for a browser. Not that the law intervened in any kind of timescale that would have saved Netscape.

        A more traditional monopolistic abuse might be Vanderbuilt, in the late 19th Century. He built a nice railway that was used by a bunch of steel mills. Then he decided to go into the steel industry. And those mill owners were asked to sell their mills to him at a substantial discount. If they didn't, his railway would stop doing business with them, and they'd go bust.

        Or say BT, who were charging about 50p a minute for daytime telephone calls in the early 1980s. Because your alternative was not to be able to make calls.

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: Erm

          "What you're not allowed to do is to use that monopoly (market dominance) in order to enter other markets. At which point it all becomes rather murky, as to what's being normally competitive and what's unfair competition."

          The BBC has all but destroyed local newspapers and radio stations. They advertise only their own products on TV, radio and podcasts. They copy their competitor's products and compete with them (time slots) for no other reason than to disrupt their business (they get the same revenue whether they show a programme at 8 o'clock on Sunday evening or 3 o'clock on Thursday). I'm forced to pay for this, even if I never watch BBC.

          I look forward to someone fining the BBC for these anti-competitive practices.

      2. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Erm

        Agree dubious as plenty of search engines out there,so not anything like a monopoly, just that lots of people choose Google as the best of a bad bunch (though search being so bad is mainly down to SEO, link spam operatives etc all trying to game the system, Google, Bing etc. can finetune their algorithms like mad but dross still gets in searches).

        Though when I search stuff I might wnat to buy on Google I get Amazon, Currys, Argos, ebay,Tesco, review sites etc.(depending on what I search for)

        There is a Shopping link on Google, is that what the EU mean - I would expect that to be Google oriented (just like if I search on Amazon I do not expect results from Tesco)

      3. John G Imrie Silver badge

        Re: Erm

        The reasoning seems to be that because "everybody" goes to Google first, they have acquired some responsibility to promote their competitors.

        Actually if everyone comes to you first then you do have to behave differently.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Erm

        "The reasoning seems to be that because "everybody" goes to Google first, they have acquired some responsibility to promote their competitors."

        Agree. It seems very arbitrary. Google came up with Gmail years ago... so I guess that is ok. If they came up with email today, would they have to push some third party email or not put a Gmail link at the top of the page? The crux of this case seems to be that Google originally did not have shopping results when you looked for "grills" or "tennis racket" and now they do... so they should have promoted whatever half baked price compare service was available prior to shopping being added, apparently. It doesn't make a lot of sense. Like Google has some obligation never to add new services because, invariably, there will be some niche company that they will be impacting. Essentially telling Google to never add a new feature. I can see why the Brits wanted out of this bureaucracy.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Erm

      I've never really been aware of Google shopping. As a result of this article I tried it out. It's really good. I found in 30 seconds exactly what had taken me an hour to find this morning with regular Google searches.

      Same item, same online vendor and same price.

      I'm a convert .... and the EU want to ban it .... erm?

      1. druck Silver badge

        Re: Erm

        No the EU don't want to ban it, but they've been taken in by to the whining of dodgy link farmers, so now you'll also have to wade through pages of results which lead to crap sites which don't even have the products you are looking for.

        1. Robin Bradshaw

          Re: Erm

          Before the linkfarmers were banished to the wilderness beyond results page 10 I can rember having to search using a variation of:

          -inurl:(ebay|kelkoo|bizrate|pixmania|dealtime|pricerunner|dooyoo|pricegrabber|pricewatch|resellerratings|shopbot|comparestoreprices|ciao|unbeatable|shopping|epinions|nextag|buy|bestwebbuys|downloadatoz|experts-exchange|softwaregeek|rapidshare|brothersoft|free-codecs|driver-download|list.driverguide|driverstock|wareseeker|members.driverguide|driverfiles|en.softonic|alivedownload|tinydl.com|aboutonlinetips.com|virus-com.com|incodesolutions|fixya|windows.bigresource|softwarermer|recipester|xiotec10.webhosting-4all|top4download|soft32.com)

          Just so find the actual product i wanted for sale instead of some spammy comparison site that didnt even link to somewhere selling it, so as well as giving us the bloody annoying cookie popup perhaps we'll be getting seo stuffed chaff in our search results too, fantastic.

          1. druck Silver badge

            Re: Erm

            @Robin Bradshaw: I wish I could set up a huge botnet to give your post the number of up votes it deserves.

        2. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: Erm

          so now you'll also have to wade through pages of results which lead to crap sites which don't even have the products you are looking for.

          But that's par for the course with Google nowadays. I seldom expect to see what I am actually after on the first page, and sometimes even skip to the second page immediately.

          The first page will consist of "dodgy link farmers" and paid ads by companies who do not sell what I am after.

          Interestingly, those "dodgy link farmers" that often make up so much of the front page are engaging in a behaviour that Google tells you explicitly will be punished if you read their texts on how to improve your search rankings.

          Actually, the above is not entirely true. I actually seldom even use Google any more, when I do it's because DDG's country-based stuff still isn't working (listening DDG? When I select "New Zealand" for my results, I mean I want pages from New Zealand, not other countries!)

      2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: Erm

        I started explicitly using shop.google.com back in 2005 to get away from those other 'shopping sites.' They were all utter crap at striking the right company with near enough the right price. Further they all had the screamy-shoughty nonsense as well. Google are still doing well enough with searches turning up competitors these days,.

        I don't see shopping search as a separate market which is where I differ from the EC. While searching on a product category, I get both information links as well as product shopping links. Apparently, Google doesn't see it either.

    4. henryl

      Re: Erm

      This is exactly what I am thinking. Google doesn't owe anyone anything, it's up to the consumer to make a choice as to whether to use Google's search engine or not. If the consumer isn't happy with the range of products or the prices, they are welcome to go elsewhere.

      I've never heard anyone complain about their shopping experience with Google.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: Erm

        Google doesn't owe anyone anything, it's up to the consumer to make a choice as to whether to use Google's search engine or not.

        Indeed for all users of Microsoft Windows, if they use Google it is because they have changed the default search engine available to them, and must therefore be by choice.

        1. keith_w

          Re: Erm

          You don't actually have to change the default search engine. All you have to do is type "google.com" in the UrL bar.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge

            Re: Erm

            You don't actually have to change the default search engine. All you have to do is type "google.com" in the UrL bar.

            Interesting you say that.. I tried the Google browser on android last night. I've used it on a very small few occasions (eg when someone wanted to look something up on my tablet and I didn't want them messing with the tabs I had open in my main browser (why is it when someone borrrows your device to look at a web page, when finished they must proceed to close ALL tabs, not just the one they were using?)

            Anyway, I put in the url of the vpn I'm playing with at home (open VPN with Pi-Hole) and all it does is goes to Google search. I cannot put in vpn.mydomain and get to vpn.mydomain, I instead get to a google search page with various VPN sites listed. I tried a page for a local news site (who happen to advertise heavily on Google) and it worked fine, appeared to go straight to the site without going through google's search. The URL is registered and active, but no luck visiting it.

            So this is potentially even more scummy; not only not promoting the site (not that there is anything to promote, it's not something I wish for others to use except by invite) but not even letting you visit the site. (Tablet is an older model running ICS IIRC)

  14. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Follow the Money

    What/Who pockets the cash, and what is it to be spent on, if ever such fines are paid? Are such fines designed to keep idle folk busy and in some sort of a ponzi job?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Follow the Money

      Fines to the European Commission are always paid. The money goes, as is usual in such cases, into the general budget. As such the money is considered to have been "returned" to the customers who ultimately suffer from the abuse of monopoly.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Follow the Money ...... Uncover a Racket

        The money goes, as is usual in such cases, into the general budget. As such the money is considered to have been "returned" to the customers who ultimately suffer from the abuse of monopoly........ Charlie Clark

        Considered returned by whom? It is certainly not the abused customers, is it? What an infernal internal racket such scams are.

        Bigger fools are the tools which pay such monopolistic levies to whoever floats and flouts them.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Follow the Money ...... Uncover a Racket

          Considered returned by whom?

          By the law. This is common practice with criminal fines. Whether it's for abuse of monopolies or speeding.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Follow the Money

        Fines to the European Commission are always paid. The money goes, as is usual in such cases, into the general budget. As such the money is considered to have been "returned" to the customers who ultimately suffer from the abuse of monopoly.

        I have yet to see the national payments to the EU being lowered as a consequence. Although I agree with the fine, it must be observed that the fine will go to a body that apparently has considerable problems keeping its accounts clean.

        This is really the problem that the EU has to fix and that was used to support the Brexit argument: it is nigh impossible to declare the EU democratic in the manner it is behaves and is managed. The whole Battistelli/EPO affair is one of the more extreme examples of what needs fixing. I think they have their act together in legal affairs, but there is a need for FAR more transparency and accountability.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Follow the Money

          "will go to a body that apparently has considerable problems keeping its accounts clean"

          You didn't read that article correctly. It says that EU accounts are accurate but some of the spending has been handled wrongly (eg improper tendering), and specifically notes that

          "While the EU is ultimately responsible for its own budget, the majority of the spending is implemented by member countries. Both the EU and member states make similar amounts of error."

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where's the Line?

    That's quite a fine. I wonder if it's enough to breach the line where it'd be cheaper for Google to start blackmailing regulators until the fine goes away?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Where's the Line?

      No. It's loose change. They made more than that just in tax credits on the losses Motorola had racked up in the 5 years before Google bought them. When they sold most of Motorola on to Lenovo, they of course kept the yummy tax credits...

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Where's the Line?

      @AC

      I think the question should be has the EU crossed the line and how will they recover from it? The EU are charging a private business for selling its own products instead of its competitors. They are doing it because they have now only just decided that Google has market dominance and that plugging their own stuff in combination with market dominance is against the law. That sounds like the EU is making stuff up to fine Google arbitrarily.

      Interestingly there doesnt seem to even be a solution to the problem, only that Google must provide a solution and then be monitored for compliance. The more I read about this the more it seems the EU is fining Google and then making up reasons to do so. How can Google have complied with a law that wasnt a law until they were fined for it?

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: Where's the Line?

        "I think the question should be has the EU crossed the line and how will they recover from it?"

        In short no. It's the European Commission, which is one of the institutions of the EU, not the EU as a whole that does this. It's also about the only governmental EU institution that is supposed to act in the best interest of Europe as a whole, as compared to EU Parliament (citizens), Council(countries) or the Committee of the regions.

        So for ruling on whether something is anti-competitive is pretty much down to the EC, many of the cases are without precedent, and there are plenty of EU companies that it has ruled against.

        "They are doing it because they have now only just decided that Google has market dominance "

        Nope, that was decided a long time ago. You'll note that neither the EC or Google argue this point, it is accepted by both sides that Google holds a dominant market position in search. The question is whether Google is abusing it's market position. While there are a number of things that are agreed a being abuses of market position, it is possible for the EC to decide that a particular behavior is being abusive without a precedent. Obviously they'd need some evidence, but they aren't tied to just say price fixing.

        "plugging their own stuff in combination with market dominance is against the law. "

        Using their market dominance in search to actively promote their own product at the expense of their competitors is exactly what the issue is. It doesn't matter what the product is, the using of your market dominant position for anti-competitive purposes is.

        "The more I read about this the more it seems the EU is fining Google and then making up reasons to do so. How can Google have complied with a law that wasnt a law until they were fined for it?"

        If a company is in a market dominant position*** then they have to ensure their actions are not abusing the position. Their behavior has been ruled as being anti-competitive* through using a dominant market position. It's pretty clear cut. Fairly typical tech attitude, disruptive = illegal, but by the time you sue us we'll have already crushed the competition.

        Almost always in these cases it comes down to economic/legal arguments about exactly what is and isn't "fair competition". I've had to read and summate (and write the odd paper on) a few dozen EC decisions, it's interesting how they come to generally correct (IMHO) decisions but with (to my mind) quite odd reasonings.

        They are pretty consistent across rulings, ie Volvo heavy can't buy Scania, because bad for customers**, but could buy pretty much any other truck manufacturer without it being anti-competitive. Volvo heavy buys Renault heavy, EC says OK, referencing Scania decision.

        "Interestingly there doesnt seem to even be a solution to the problem, only that Google must provide a solution and then be monitored for compliance. "

        Erm, that *is* the solution. Google doesn't stop providing any of it's services, it doesn't get a monopoly taken away from it, it just stops promoting/demoting search results for shopping comparison sites. It agrees that it done bad, pays a fine, and stops doing it. Then someone checks they aren't doing it.

        Not abusing your market position is a regulation you have to follow. If you don't, you get fined, and someone will be round to check that you are following it.

        * Not that it matters, but I agree.

        ** Much of that decision was an argument between Volvo/EC over who is Volvo's customer for trucks, and do those customers have any real negotiating power.

        *** The EC has definitions for this. In general, more than 25% of the market and 5 million+ a year in turnover in the EU are the minimum hurdles

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Where's the Line?

          @ MonkeyCee

          "In short no. It's the European Commission, which is one of the institutions of the EU, not the EU as a whole that does this."

          Fair point. That is why the US isnt bombing targets in the middle east, only the US military.

          "It's also about the only governmental EU institution that is supposed to act in the best interest of Europe as a whole"

          If ever we want an argument to leave.

          "You'll note that neither the EC or Google argue this point, it is accepted by both sides that Google holds a dominant market position in search"

          But dominance is not a problem. It is not a monopoly nor illegal nor wrong. It is also not a problem selling your own stuff and not selling your competitors stuff. However there is now a new crime of combining the two and with no way to avoid it be given a record fine.

          "It doesn't matter what the product is, the using of your market dominant position for anti-competitive purposes is"

          True except it isnt anticompetitive. Google may be the largest but there are many alternatives in a very open market. When Tesco was market leader should it be given record fines for not selling lidl stuff? Hell no.

          "then they have to ensure their actions are not abusing the position"

          This would be interesting to prove as they can plug their own stuff or be popular but not both it seems. They are not stopping the competition and can easily be replaced or not used. As someone has already commented this basically means Google cannot add new features as it is bound to infringe someone elses market.

          "Google doesn't stop providing any of it's services, it doesn't get a monopoly taken away from it, it just stops promoting/demoting search results for shopping comparison sites"

          And here is the problem. You said monopoly which is easily if mistakenly interpreted from market dominance except Google doesnt have a monopoly. It is the most popular but if it falls out of favour can be usurped by any of many others.

          "It agrees that it done bad, pays a fine, and stops doing it"

          Good for Google they dont seem to be going that way, "We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.”

          I spotted Tims article to this after my first comment-

          https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2017/06/27/against-natural-justice-eu-commission-fines-google-e2-42-billion-over-antitrust/#480fc48b35eb

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That Will Need To Be A Monthly Fine

    To get their attention.

  17. Nick Kew Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Google vs Spammers

    Anyone remember Kelkoo? The annoying, utterly useless links that once used to feature rather a lot in Google search results? I used to have to add "-kelkoo" to searches. A pesky SEO spammer that was, for a time, very successful.

    The World at One (BBC lunchtime news) just featured an interview with a Kelkoo spokesman about the Google judgement. He was there because of Kelkoo's prominent Wormtongue role in sweet-talking the commission. If there was any doubt about it, this dispels it: this was a victory for spammers over Google.

    If Google were to give in to the likes of Kelkoo, Google would become useless as a search engine.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Google vs Spammers

      Surely Kelkoo went the way of the dinosaur years ago? I remember actually using them deliberately in about 2005, when I was playing with Pricerunner and Google's brilliantly named (but sadly crap) Froogle.

      I think I decided Pricerunner was best, but was returning so many prices from sites I'd never heard of and on inspection wasn't willing to entrust with my credit card, that I just gave up on the lot of them.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If Google were to give in to the likes of Kelkoo, Google would become useless as a search engine.

    And how does that relate to their abuse of their monopoly position? Just because a child abuser gives a kid an ice cream doesn't turn them into saints - that's merely self interest.

  19. returnofthemus

    Booyakasha!

    Amazon your next!

    Bring on GDPR

  20. Kiwi Silver badge
    WTF?

    Needle past the redline...

    and we look forward to continuing to make our case.

    Bullshit. No one involved in litigation (except lawyers) "looks forward to" it being an ongoing thing. All parties want it over as quickly as possible (especially those in investigations that draw on for years). That's why the prosecution in many countries will try to delay a case and keep it ongoing, especially if the accused is in custody - a great way to get a guilty plea "just so it's over".

    Very few people like ongoing battle. We humans get sick of it, especially when we're defending ourselves against an opponent.

    It's obviously rubbish, and if they're lying about that I have to wonder, what else are they lying about?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hotel?

    TrivagoGoogle.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This will definitely start a competition war with the Trump admin... The EU is going after American tech. The Trump admin will respond in kind. Watch.

  23. Stripes the Dalmatian

    Where does this leave Microsoft?

    MS Office achieved a dominant position in its field because:

    1) Microsoft used its inside knowledge of its own operating systems to give Office a performance advantage over competitors, and

    2) Microsoft leveraged its monopoly of the OS market to exploit that advantage.

    Microsoft still gets away with charging inflated prices for its software because of the advantage it gained from using its monopoly to stifle competitors.

    I'm sure that affects thousands of times more people than could care about not using specific shopping comparison sites (because, let's face it, historically all shopping comparison sites were useless crap that nobody visited more than once.)

    1. GotThumbs

      Re: Where does this leave Microsoft?

      You are FREE to use other peoples software.....OR develop your own and give it away.

      I'm guessing you work for free, since you want companies to give away the products it produces.

      The EU is breeding the entitlement mindset in it's minons....what a waste.

  24. GotThumbs
    Mushroom

    EU hemorrhaging for other peoples money.

    I'd really like to see Google shut down its services within the EU and lay off all the EU Employees (EU Taxpayers).

    The EU is ruining the EU countries and finding any excuse to leach off of successful Companies.

    btw. Has the EU fined any NON- United States companies?

  25. john2020

    Did I miss the 'duckduckgo' references?

  26. Twilight

    wtf?

    This honestly makes no sense. I really hope Google does win on appeal. A comparison shopping service is nothing more than a generic search engine with filters and aggregation. Does the EU actually employ anyone in the courts that understands technology? Comparison shopping was a completely logical (and obvious) extension of Google's general search engine. It may or may not be a separate "market" (whatever that means) but it is the same technology so why wouldn't Google promote its comparison shopping in search? It does the same with Image Search and that is no different (if anything Image Search is more different than comparison shopping from generic search).

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