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EU, Google antitrust settlement could see prominent placement for competing products

post #1 of 22
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European Union regulators have accepted a proposed solution from Google to end an antitrust probe questioning whether the search giant uses its dominant market position unfairly, but Google's competitors are reportedly unsatisfied with the deal.

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The deal between Google and the European Commission would see Google clearly labeling search results from its own properties ? such as Google Plus Local and Google News ? and sometimes showing links from rival search engines, sources familiar with the negotiations told The New York Times. Google would not be required to alter the algorithm that produces its search results, and the changes likely would not show up on users' screens for at least a month.

The EU's antitrust investigation looked into whether Google was using its search dominance to tout its own services ahead of those of its competitors. Large Internet and software rival Microsoft was one of the primary complainants before the European Commission, but Microsoft was joined by smaller players, including British comparison shopping site Foundem and social review site Yelp.

Aside from its alleged favoring of its own offerings, the plaintiffs also charged that Google disadvantaged competitors by pulling material from other web sites for search results.

The agreement would require Google to label Google-owned properties in areas where it doesn't make money from search results. In areas where Google does make money off of ads, such as local business reviews, Google would have to show links to at least three competitors. In areas like shopping, Google would auction links to rivals.

The search company would also be required to allow competitor services the ability to block as much as 10 percent of their web content from displaying in Google search results. Google, then, would be unable to, for instance, display hours of operation from Yelp listings. Google would also have to make it easier for small businesses to move their ad campaigns to other search engines.

Responding to the news that a settlement may be near, representatives for the plaintiffs told Bloomberg that the deal appears to be insufficient as far as they're concerned.

"If what has been proposed is a labeling or a modified form of labeling, frankly that's a non-starter," a lawyer for an industry group including Microsoft told Bloomberg. "We haven't seen the proposals and the commission hasn't explained them to us. We're in the dark."

Wood's group wants any settlement to "set out non-discrimination principles and the means to deal with the restoration of effective competition, plus effective enforcement and compliance" in order for it to be acceptable. The settlement would also have to be global in order for Google's competitors to be satisfied.

The EU settlement is another chance for Google's rivals to extract concessions from the search giant. Another antitrust case in the United States closed earlier this year with the Federal Trade Commission concluding that Google had been more interested in improving its search results than in stifling competition.

Any agreement Google reaches with the European Commission would be legally binding for a period of five years, with a third party ensuring compliance. A violation of such an agreement could lead to a fine of as much as 10 percent of Google's global annual sales.
post #2 of 22
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Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

European Union regulators have accepted a proposed solution from Google to end an antitrust probe questioning whether the search giant uses its dominant market position unfairly, but Google's competitors are reportedly unsatisfied with the deal.

Of course Microsoft isn't satisfied.1hmm.gif

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post #3 of 22
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Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Of course Microsoft isn't satisfied.1hmm.gif

 

Your analysis is both insightful and thought provoking.

 

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post #4 of 22
This doesn't read as fair to me. It's much like what the EU did to MS with IE. This sounds like they trying to chop Google off at the knees so others can better compete artificially, not because they found Google to be doing anything inherently anti-competitive by showing the most popular results which happen to lead to their own services.

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post #5 of 22
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Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

This doesn't read as fair to me. It's much like what the EU did to MS with IE. This sounds like they trying to chop Google off at the knees so others can better compete artificially, not because they found Google to be doing anything inherently anti-competitive by showing the most popular results which happen to lead to their own services.

I disagree. It is demanding that Google stop using their power in Search to artificially inflate the importance of their other products.

Just like the MS/IE situation, it is well established in both the EU and US that you can not use a monopoly position (or even dominant position) in one field to force others to use your unrelated products.
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post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I disagree. It is demanding that Google stop using their power in Search to artificially inflate the importance of their other products.

if they are artificially inflated then I agree, but it sounds like they are wanting to artificially promote others. If that is incorrect I'm open to an explanation that reads differently than this article.
Quote:
Just like the MS/IE situation, it is well established in both the EU and US that you can not use a monopoly position (or even dominant position) in one field to force others to use your unrelated products.

The problem with the EU and IE is that didn't do it when it was an issue. They did only recently when Firefox was common (especially in Europe) and even after Chrome had a high stake. IE has been at or below 50% for the world for some time and having over 90% of the world's desktop OS market with much of that being in the Enterprise their browser dominance is effectively nonexistent. I don't think it' wrong for them to offer a browser on an OS in the 21st century and if MS is required to offer alternatives then why not Apple or Google for their respective OSes? There was a time for this and it's long gone.

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post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

if they are artificially inflated then I agree, but it sounds like they are wanting to artificially promote others. If that is incorrect I'm open to an explanation that reads differently than this article.

 

The reason EU regulators got involved is because Google has been artificially "inflating" its self-importance in search results.

 

They're essentially and clearly leveraging their dominance in search to stifle competition and promote their offerings in other markets. Whether this is happening isn't even controversial.

 

The search results should, and should have been, impartial, but, if the remedy, as reparation for damage done, requires Google to "deflate" themselves, that would be entirely just in the circumstances. The idea that others should have to pay for search position is entirely preposterous: it's anticompetitive, and directly harms consumers.

 

And, this really is pretty closely analogous to Microsoft's use of its Windows monopoly to promote IE.

 

It also is an indicator 

post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


if they are artificially inflated then I agree, but it sounds like they are wanting to artificially promote others. If that is incorrect I'm open to an explanation that reads differently than this article.
The problem with the EU and IE is that didn't do it when it was an issue. They did only recently when Firefox was common (especially in Europe) and even after Chrome had a high stake. IE has been at or below 50% for the world for some time and having over 90% of the world's desktop OS market with much of that being in the Enterprise their browser dominance is effectively nonexistent. I don't think it' wrong for them to offer a browser on an OS in the 21st century and if MS is required to offer alternatives then why not Apple or Google for their respective OSes? There was a time for this and it's long gone.

The difference is Microsoft's Windows is sold as a license and they don't make or support the final product, the computer itself.  The Browser was an program that like the thousands that came before it was created and promoted by a third party.  Once they saw this might be a new profitable direction, MS made their own and prevented the Companies making the PCs, who at one time had other OS options but were now trapped with microsoft, from making any other browser as the default.  Apple makes both the OS and the hardware so they are not in the same position. There is no manufacture locked to their platform that wants to put a different Browser on as default.  Since Apple makes appliances that they offer free support in their stores for they have have every right to limit what is default on their phones and tablets. If you want to do something else you can alway jailbreak it, but they will be freed from spending their resources on supporting someone else's products.  

post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


I disagree. It is demanding that Google stop using their power in Search to artificially inflate the importance of their other products.

Just like the MS/IE situation, it is well established in both the EU and US that you can not use a monopoly position (or even dominant position) in one field to force others to use your unrelated products.

I haven't seen any proof of Google artificially promoting their own products, no matter how many times Microsoft says so. The US didn't find that they did. I don't believe that the EU will find that they are doing so either. I've no idea what you're basing your accusation on so perhaps there's something out there I hadn't read that you might provide.

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post #10 of 22
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Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

I haven't seen any proof of Google artificially promoting their own products, no matter how many times Microsoft says so. The US didn't find that they did. I don't believe that the EU will find that they are doing so either. I've no idea what you're basing your accusation on so perhaps there's something out there I hadn't read that you might provide.

It would be a non issue if Google just bought paid sponsorship ads for their other services and labeled the organic search results as supported Google offerings. Transparency is always the best approach in these types of situations. Even if there are currently no improprieties, it would go a long way to establishing public confidence if they were to make it extremely obvious that the results are fair.

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post #11 of 22
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Originally Posted by mstone View Post

It would be a non issue if Google just bought paid sponsorship ads for their other services and labeled the organic search results as supported Google offerings. Transparency is always the best approach in these types of situations. Even if there are currently no improprieties, it would go a long way to establishing public confidence if they were to make it extremely obvious that the results are fair.

Isn't that generally what Google is offering to do?

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post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Isn't that generally what Google is offering to do?

 

No. This proposed settlement is a joke.

post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

I haven't seen any proof of Google artificially promoting their own products, no matter how many times Microsoft says so. The US didn't find that they did. I don't believe that the EU will find that they are doing so either. I've no idea what you're basing your accusation on so perhaps there's something out there I hadn't read that you might provide.

Sure. If you close your eyes long enough, you can believe anything.

Did you miss the thread just a few days ago where Apple's App Store was dropped a few pages in the search rankings.

Oh, yeah. I forgot. That was a 'bug'. /s
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post #14 of 22
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Originally Posted by excelsior View Post

What evidence do you have that it wasn't a bug?

In what illogical world would it be wise to immediately assume malice?

What would be the reasoning in doing so purposely?

The only thing that makes sense (unless you're illogically biased against Google) is that it was a mistake... But what do you think happened?

No, the fact that Google has a long history of taking advantage of their position and screwing everyone in sight suggests that it wasn't a bug.

The fact that it only apparently happened to Android's only real competitor suggests that it wasn't a bug.

And the fact that all the paid shills are out in force defending it suggests that it wasn't a bug.
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post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


Sure. If you close your eyes long enough, you can believe anything.

Did you miss the thread just a few days ago where Apple's App Store was dropped a few pages in the search rankings.

Oh, yeah. I forgot. That was a 'bug'. /s

So you got nuthin' then. A little innuendo mixed with a little FUD but nothing even remotely approaching the level of proof you normally demand. That's what I expected but wanted to be sure.

 

So the Oracle, Microsoft and Nokia triumvirate, having failed once more, will move on to another try with something different They'll push for the EU to charge Google with having an unfair market advantage with Android. 

 

Actually being expected to compete with Google isn't fair at all. The government must step in to ensure Microsoft and friends remain relevant.


Edited by Gatorguy - 4/16/13 at 4:09am
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post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by excelsior View Post


Paid shills?

That's his pet name for those he can't win a debate with. He uses it a lot. Since Solipsism and I were the only ones disagreeing with him (albeit with slightly different takes) I assume we're supposed to be the "paid shills out in force".


Edited by Gatorguy - 4/16/13 at 5:03am
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post #17 of 22
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Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

So you got nuthin' then. A little innuendo mixed with a little FUD but nothing even remotely approaching the level of proof you normally demand. That's what I expected but wanted to be sure.

 

 

That describes your MO to a G.

 

Quote:

So the Oracle, Microsoft and Nokia triumvirate, having failed once more, will move on to another try with something different They'll push for the EU to charge Google with having an unfair market advantage with Android. 

 

Actually being expected to compete with Google isn't fair at all. The government must step in to ensure Microsoft and friends remain relevant.

 

It's way to late to keep Microsoft relevant, but, maybe that's what keeps you up at night. On the other hand, governments should definitely step in and stop the abuse of Google's market position.

post #18 of 22
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Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

It's way to late to keep Microsoft relevant...

MS has a lot of money and still makes a lot of money. So long as they have excessive resources at their disposal I wouldn't count them out. Well, so long as Ballmer is at the helm I would count them out, but he'll be long gone before the company is in jeopardy of going under.

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post #19 of 22
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Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


MS has a lot of money and still makes a lot of money. So long as they have excessive resources at their disposal I wouldn't count them out. Well, so long as Ballmer is at the helm I would count them out, but he'll be long gone before the company is in jeopardy of going under.

 

They are irrelevant in the same way IBM, who also have great resources at their disposal, are irrelevant. Nothing they are doing has any significant effect on the direction of technology, nor has it for at least a decade.

 

That doesn't mean they'll go out of business, it just means no one cares what they are up to.

 

And, no, that isn't an inevitable trend, with MS following IBM, and Apple or Google soon to follow them. Although, it is interesting to note that both IBM and MS were hobbled by consent decrees targeted at curbing their monopolistic, anticompetitive excesses. Of major companies that are relevant in tech these days, Google is most likely to end up hobbled by a consent decree for that reason, given the, "take over the world," psychology they share with the Microsoft of old. The psychological and behavioral parallels between MS and Google are striking. One was a classic tragedy in the making, it wouldn't be surprising if the other turns out to be as well.

post #20 of 22
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Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

They are irrelevant in the same way IBM, who also have great resources at their disposal, are irrelevant. Nothing they are doing has any significant effect on the direction of technology, nor has it for at least a decade.

That doesn't mean they'll go out of business, it just means no one cares what they are up to.

And, no, that isn't an inevitable trend, with MS following IBM, and Apple or Google soon to follow them. Although, it is interesting to note that both IBM and MS were hobbled by consent decrees targeted at curbing their monopolistic, anticompetitive excesses. Of major companies that are relevant in tech these days, Google is most likely to end up hobbled by a consent decree for that reason, given the, "take over the world," psychology they share with the Microsoft of old. The psychological and behavioral parallels between MS and Google are striking. One was a classic tragedy in the making, it wouldn't be surprising if the other turns out to be as well.

They are both very much relevant. You can't remove either one of these companies from the world without the world halting. What they don't have is mindshare. That's a society as a whole not caring but they aren't consumer-focused. That's a very different thing from deeming something to have no importance in the world or their area of expertise.

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post #21 of 22

This is stupid.  

 

This situation came up today, and made me think of this.  If I'm on Google's search engine (at www.google.com), and I search for 'Books', and I don't live under a rock, I'll expect Google to take me to their 'Books' service - it makes logical sense.  Now, it's the top result, as it should be, and Amazon, Chapters, and other vendors come up immediately below them.  Why shouldn't Google Books be on top on Google.com?  

 

People can always use Bing if they don't want Google's services.  

post #22 of 22
The EU and Google finally came to terms on this today and FWIW it doesn't appear to me to be all that different from what Google proposed a year ago. 1confused.gif
From last year:
http://blogs.ft.com/brusselsblog/2013/04/the-google-eu-settlement-full-details/?
Then today:
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b652fa42-8e50-11e3-98c6-00144feab7de.html

Microsoft is almost certain to be unhappy.
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