The US Department of Justice’s 10-week antitrust trial against Google is underway and could spell big trouble for the Mountain View tech giant. The Justice Department, along with several individual states, argues that Google achieved its status as a dominant search company through anticompetitive means. Now the company has reached monopoly status and everything must be investigated.
This is a very watered-down set of claims, as U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta rejected claims that Google also engaged in anticompetitive behavior enabled by its dominant position, harming companies like Yelp and Tripadvisor through Google Search , at the beginning of August. However, Google is finally facing some consequences for its actions, even if it dodged a bullet in this case.
The case depends on several things, namely does Google have a monopoly when it comes to search, did the company cause real harm, and is what it did actually anti-competitive? He’s also in court on charges based on laws written more than 100 years ago, so much of how anything can be interpreted is up to a judge.
What did Google do wrong?
The Federal Trade Commission takes issue with many things that big tech companies do, but this particular lawsuit is really about just one of them: Google was able to achieve its current level of dominance in search thanks to deals it made to become the search engine. Default search in web browsers and mobile phones. Because of this potential wrongdoing, it is working with the Department of Justice to hold Google accountable.
It is important to note that concerns about Google being the default search engine in Chrome or on Android phones were dismissed by Judge Mehta and were not heard in this trial. That said, the trial is really about Apple’s iPhone and the money Google spent to become the default search engine it uses.
Google, of course, denies that deals like this are anticompetitive. It is also claimed that even though so much money has been paid for the placement of this feature, no effort is made to prevent users from easily switching to another search engine. Consumers remain loyal to Google because it is better, and Google Search’s market dominance has been achieved because, according to Google, it makes a quality product.
In the process, another thing will emerge that has nothing to do with market share or search monopolies: Google is ordering employees to use automatic deletion for messages. The FTC is very unhappy with this and says it’s because Google knows it has something to hide.
Is this anti-competitive?
Google pays a lot of money to be the default on iPhone. Some estimates reach into the billions and it is very likely that they will get closer. Google really wants to be the default engine here and is willing to pay for it.
The problem is that it is easy to say that this is not – or should not be – considered illegal or anti-competitive. And if it turns out to be, how far will it go? Is it illegal for Green Giant to pay Kroger to have its cans of green beans placed on shelves at eye level? Other companies may pay for the same type of product placement and are either unwilling or have been outbid by Green Giant. The FTC only challenges when Google does so because of its market share.
While search isn’t a canned vegetable, it’s less about the product and more about the act of paying for placement. Microsoft I could pay as much or more money to Apple and the iPhone would use Bing as its default search engine, but the company chooses not to. Alternatively, Apple could develop its own search engine and not use any.
The same reasoning applies to Mozilla’s Firefox browser and Apple’s Safari browser. They use Google by default because Google pays them. Users can switch if they want, but most people prefer to just use Google.
This I could to be true. Laws in the EU have been changed so that users see a screen where they choose a search engine the first time they open their browser. Google’s market share hasn’t changed – everyone still uses Google. Other providers are listed on the “Choose Search Provider” screen, and people choose Google.
What could happen?
The two extreme outcomes are the least likely: Google wins and nothing gets done, or the FTC wins and the Justice Department breaks up Google as it did with AT&T/Bell Systems in 1982. While possible, neither is very likely. Expect something more akin to Microsoft’s antitrust hearings when the final decision comes down to the case once appeals are exhausted.
What I expect to see is that Google is forced to reveal all its search offers before completion in the name of transparency and fair competition or that the laws are changed so product placement of this type is no longer allowed . And I wouldn’t complain if one of those options was the outcome.
I have a lot of problems with most of the things that Google, and by extension, all tech companies, get away with in the United States. Tech giants like Google are really no different than tobacco, oil or pharmaceutical companies and have the best government money can buy. I just don’t like it This particular argument advanced by the FTC.
Google’s market share in search (up to 75% depending on when and how it is calculated) is so large that the company is a monopoly even if competition exists. But Google did more than pay Apple to get there.
The Google search engine is a quality product that most people enjoy using, even when they are offered a way to use another product. The technology behind this is one reason for this, but smart business also plays a role.
At the turn of the century, Google began spending billions to create a series of networked data tools. The company found a way to get the data it needed and deliver it to the end user. Once the company figured out how to monetize all of this, it could afford to pay for things like being the default search engine. Fast forward to today and Google is an advertising company that exists because its search engine is so popular.
I don’t like many of the methods Google uses to be “good” at search, but I can’t fault the company and its executives for building success through technology. I’m more interested in the next antitrust trial, where – hopefully – Google’s advertising business and how it collects the data that drives it will come under scrutiny.
But I’m not the judge in this case and I don’t envy him. Antitrust laws were written centuries ago to protect consumers from things like steel companies and railroads. They are woefully outdated, as are many of our laws, and depend on the Department of Justice proving that what Google does harms consumers. In my opinion, once brought to light, Google does things that indirectly harm consumers. Paying Apple to get Google Search on your iPhone isn’t one of them.
#Heres #Google #trial #care
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