Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Jul 2011 21:38 UTC
Google So, Google has come under scrutiny by the US Federal Trade Commission for possible anti-competitive practices. While I would say the FTC has far larger threats to competition to worry about (the inevitable p-word), it would appear there's sufficient suspicion to take a gander at Google's business practices.
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RE: Minor point
by Brendan on Tue 19th Jul 2011 05:02 UTC in reply to "Minor point"
Brendan
Member since:
2005-11-16

Hi,

If this is the case, aside from the argument if Google's practises actually unfairly favour Google, exactly what law are Google supposed to have broken?


The general idea is that a company who has market dominance in one area can't use that market dominance to gain an unfair advantage in a different area.

One hypothetical example would be Microsoft using the market share of Windows to influence consumer's choice of web browser. Another hypothetical example would be an internet search provider using their market share to influence consumer's choice of travel agent.

Suppose for the sake of argument that Google's advertising does in fact favour Google. Isn't that exactly what advertising is supposed to do?


It has nothing to do with Google's advertising. It has everything to do with whether or not their search engine's results are unbiased.

Imagine if they rigged their search results so that any search containing the words "mobile phone" only ever returned links to pages that make Android sound fantastic and links to pages criticising Windows Phone 7. If they did that, then they'd be using their market dominance in one area (internet search) to gain an unfair advantage in a different area (mobile phones).

Of course I'm *not* saying Google are doing anything like that (and I'm not saying they aren't).

For fun, I just used Google's search engine to search for "best search engine", and Google wasn't even mentioned in the first page of their own search results (which surprised me a lot). The top result (for me) was "http://www.dogpile.com/". Then I used Google to search for "mobile phone" and Android wasn't mentioned. Now I'm starting to wonder if they're guilty of not doing everything they can do for their shareholders... :-)

-Brendan

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Minor point
by lemur2 on Tue 19th Jul 2011 05:32 in reply to "RE: Minor point"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

For fun, I just used Google's search engine to search for "best search engine", and Google wasn't even mentioned in the first page of their own search results (which surprised me a lot). The top result (for me) was "http://www.dogpile.com/". Then I used Google to search for "mobile phone" and Android wasn't mentioned.


OK, had those results been the opposite, I suppose one could argue that Google was trying to unfairly influence ordinary people. Since protecting the interests of ordinary people IS the point of anti-trust law, there is the beginning of a premise here.

The only remaining problems are:

(1) the results were not the opposite,
(2) there are plenty of alternative search engine providers, and people may easily switch to them, and
(3) Google has only 69% of the search engine market anyway

It seems to me the FTC (or whoever) still has an extraordinarily difficult case to make.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Minor point
by steampoweredlawn on Tue 19th Jul 2011 07:49 in reply to "RE: Minor point"
steampoweredlawn Member since:
2006-09-27


For fun, I just used Google's search engine to search for "best search engine", and Google wasn't even mentioned in the first page of their own search results (which surprised me a lot). The top result (for me) was "http://www.dogpile.com/". Then I used Google to search for "mobile phone" and Android wasn't mentioned. Now I'm starting to wonder if they're guilty of not doing everything they can do for their shareholders... :-)


Similarly, I did a quick Google search for "photo sharing". The first result I got was for Flickr, the second for Photobucket. Google's own Picasa came in third, above a Wikipedia link for photo sharing. Search for anything Google is trying to establish a presence in, and you'll find they do not favor their own product.

On the other hand, searching for "photo sharing" on Bing returns no mention of Picasa on the first page.

Reply Parent Score: 3