Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 21st Feb 2018 23:06 UTC
In the News

In other words, it's very likely you love Google, or are at least fond of Google, or hardly think about Google, the same way you hardly think about water systems or traffic lights or any of the other things you rely on every day. Therefore you might have been surprised when headlines began appearing last year suggesting that Google and its fellow tech giants were threatening everything from our economy to democracy itself. Lawmakers have accused Google of creating an automated advertising system so vast and subtle that hardly anyone noticed when Russian saboteurs co-opted it in the last election. Critics say Facebook exploits our addictive impulses and silos us in ideological echo chambers. Amazon’s reach is blamed for spurring a retail meltdown; Apple's economic impact is so profound it can cause market-wide gyrations. These controversies point to the growing anxiety that a small number of technology companies are now such powerful entities that they can destroy entire industries or social norms with just a few lines of computer code. Those four companies, plus Microsoft, make up America's largest sources of aggregated news, advertising, online shopping, digital entertainment and the tools of business and communication. They're also among the world's most valuable firms, with combined annual revenues of more than half a trillion dollars.

The recent focus on technology companies when it comes to corporate power is definitely warranted, but I do find it a little peculiar that it, at the same time, draws attention away from other sectors where giant corporations are possibly doing even more damage to society, like large oil companies and the environment, or the concentration of media companies.

One has to wonder if the recent aggressive focus on tech companies isn't entirely natural.

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Google is not a monpoly
by jonsmirl on Thu 22nd Feb 2018 01:12 UTC
jonsmirl
Member since:
2005-07-06

Microsoft was a monopoly when it used its Windows licensing power to prevent every OEM in the world from installing any OS besides Microsoft Windows. That was 100% restraint of trade and they deserved to be broken up for doing it.

I just can't see how Google is a monopoly. There is nothing stopping anyone from setting up a competitor to Google. Of course it may be hard to get people to pay attention to you, but that is a marketing problem not a legal one. There are no 'licenses' in place stopping people from using a competing search engine. There were licenses restricting Microsoft's OEMs.

Another point for the people complaining about what Google does with the info on their websites. You are 100% in control of what Google indexes on your site. If you don't like what Google is indexing, set a robots.txt to stop them. I get annoyed when Getty thinks it has a 'right' to piles of free traffic from Google and then they go even further and try and to dictate how Google should collect that free traffic for them. You are a fool if you build a business around Google giving you free traffic.

You can try arguing monopoly extension against Google when it enters the verticals, but again I don't see it. Monopoly extension is where the ownership of one monopoly is used to force people into another one. But no one is forced into using a Google vertical, Google may make it very easy for you but that is not the same as forcing you to do it.

I also believe the huge EU fine against Google over this is ridiculous. The owners of Foundem seem to think that they have a 'right' to pile of free referral traffic from Google and no such right exists. I suspect the EU's actions will simply destroy all third party shopping engines and basically guarantee that Amazon will own the EU shopping market. It is pretty much already that way in the USA.

So what do the anti-trust lovers want to do to Google? Prevent them from building any kind of vertical search engines? What would be the legal grounds for making a ruling like that?

BTW, I think the technology that will displace Google in search is already under development. It is AI processing of the web to extract the concepts contained in a web page instead of just keywords. Once something like that works well, the whole category of vertical search will likely disappear. Maybe Google will win two generations in a row (like Microsoft did - command line, GUI) but that is a rare occurrence. More likely some new startup will figure it out, then we'll see if they sell out or stay independent.

Reply Score: 0

RE: Google is not a monpoly
by Alfman on Thu 22nd Feb 2018 02:32 in reply to "Google is not a monpoly"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

jonsmirl,

Microsoft was a monopoly when it used its Windows licensing power to prevent every OEM in the world from installing any OS besides Microsoft Windows. That was 100% restraint of trade and they deserved to be broken up for doing it.

I just can't see how Google is a monopoly. There is nothing stopping anyone from setting up a competitor to Google. Of course it may be hard to get people to pay attention to you, but that is a marketing problem not a legal one. There are no 'licenses' in place stopping people from using a competing search engine. There were licenses restricting Microsoft's OEMs.


I do agree with you that things could be many times worse if google were to use microsoft's old tactics, but this doesn't have any bearing on whether or not it is a monopoly. You focus on what I'll sum up as "benevolence", but it should be pointed out that technically it is not mutually exclusive with being a monopoly. In other words, one can legally be a monopoly regardless of whether one engages in anti-trust practices.

Another point would be that end users whose perspective you highlight are just a single facet of the google monopoly; they do not reflect the full scope of google's monopoly power.

Edited 2018-02-22 02:44 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Google is not a monpoly
by jonsmirl on Thu 22nd Feb 2018 02:51 in reply to "RE: Google is not a monpoly"
jonsmirl Member since:
2005-07-06

That is the difference between EU monopolies and USA monopolies. The EU will categorize someone as a monopoly even if they aren't erecting barriers to protect the monopoly. USA monopolies have to engage in the construction of barriers before they get punished.

I don't subscribe to the EU view. I don't believe simply having a high market share should be a crime. The crime is in erecting the barriers to keep competitors out.

In general I view the complaints toward Google as competitors trying to force Google to help them. For example if Google was going to all of the stores and making them sign contracts saying that they would exclusively offer their goods on Google and not on Foundem, that is monopolistic and should be punished. But if Foundem is arguing that Google has a high share and it should send Foundem free traffic to help them compete, in the USA that would considered ridiculous. Apparently the EU views otherwise.

From my perspective the EU really screwed up on this one. Google was actually helping EU retailers stay visible and make sales. Google was not charging them an affiliate kickback. Foundem on the other hand makes all of their profit from affiliate kickbacks.

The EU's actions have ensured Google is not going to put much effort into vertical shopping engines going forward. I believe the main effect of that is that Amazon will end up dominating EU shopping. I think the EU was very flawed when they ruled that Amazon was not a competitor to Google shopping.

I suspect in five years the EU will look like the USA. Here Google shopping is a joke and Amazon rules retail. And all of the local stores are dying. Check out the total collapse of shopping malls in the USA.

Edited 2018-02-22 02:59 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Google is not a monpoly
by avgalen on Thu 22nd Feb 2018 15:04 in reply to "Google is not a monpoly"
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

In economics, a monopoly is a single seller. In law, a monopoly is a business entity that has significant market power. (source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly)

Now if I use google and start typing "other search" it autocompletes to:
* other search engines
* other search engines besides google
* other search engine than google
* other search engines better than google
* other search engines not google

(If I use bing.com and start typing "other search" it just autocompletes to "other search engines" and the first result that shows up is duckduckgo)

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Google is not a monpoly
by coherence on Thu 22nd Feb 2018 19:47 in reply to "Google is not a monpoly"
coherence Member since:
2018-02-04

I just can't see how Google is a monopoly. There is nothing stopping anyone from setting up a competitor to Google.


Are you kidding me? The two largest search engines in the world are Google and Youtube (yes youtube can be considered a search engine as it has the world's largest library of videos).

Vid.me such down late last year because it pretty much impossible to turn a profit with video site due to the storage cost of video. The other video sites basically aren't anywhere near as decent

To start a search engine these days again is a mammoth task because it isn't like the 1990s where you can have a couple of SQL Databases and half decent search box to find sites. I've build a web crawler with elastic search, but anything past that requires some serious engineering which will require probably at least a few million to get anything that is half as good as duck duck go which while decent isn't half as good as google.

Then you have Google Maps, they basically have a monopoly on mapping (I work for a company that does a lot of work with Geo).

Almost every phone coming out is Android with their services.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Google is not a monpoly
by Alfman on Thu 22nd Feb 2018 20:52 in reply to "RE: Google is not a monpoly"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

coherence,

To start a search engine these days again is a mammoth task because it isn't like the 1990s where you can have a couple of SQL Databases and half decent search box to find sites. I've build a web crawler with elastic search, but anything past that requires some serious engineering which will require probably at least a few million to get anything that is half as good as duck duck go which while decent isn't half as good as google.



I agree. It's extremely difficult. Even if you do build something better in some way, it may not matter at all since you don't have the users to go along with it and don't have the benefit of bundling your search engine within products like google and microsoft do.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Google is not a monpoly
by zima on Wed 28th Feb 2018 03:42 in reply to "RE: Google is not a monpoly"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Vid.me such down late last year because it pretty much impossible to turn a profit with video site due to the storage cost of video. The other video sites basically aren't anywhere near as decent

Vimeo is quite good at what it is, and at least it seems to be doing fine...

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Google is not a monpoly
by walid on Mon 26th Feb 2018 22:53 in reply to "Google is not a monpoly"
walid Member since:
2012-11-24

A monopoly doesn't mean that they are forcing companies not to install an OS or use a search engine, it simply means that the large size of said organization makes it a very powerful defacto that can damage a market with very little effort. This applied to Microsoft and now applies to Google.

That said I don't think that breaking Google up is the answer here since the benefit of Google is actually its size. Still mandating that Google follow a different approach to showing search suggestions than choke traffic to a website when the website is negatively affected is necessary. The options that Google gives of either Google showing whatever it wants on a search page or obliterate said website from its search seems like abuse of power to me. You're either with Google or Google is against you.

Reply Parent Score: 1