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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RE[4]: Google is not a monpoly
by jonsmirl on Thu 22nd Feb 2018 12:32 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Google is not a monpoly"
Member since:

In the EU a company with a 'dominant share' is not allowed to 'distort' the market. The EU concluded that Google was distorting the vertical search engine market.

By their reasoning Google has a dominant share on general search. They determined that vertical search engines were dependent on general search and being denied unrestricted access to it. So they fined Google billions and made then give access to the vertical search engines.

Two issues I have with that:
1) The conclusion that vertical search was dependent on access to general search. The continuous ads I see on TV for Trivago are pretty good proof that general search access is nice free marketing, but not a required input.

2) The fact that the EU excluded places like Ebay and Amazon from their definition of vertical shopping search engines. If you include sites like this Google shopping does not have a dominant share.

Finally I think it is utterly ridiculous to fine a company $2.7B over the design of a web page.

Reply Parent Score: -1

RE[5]: Google is not a monpoly
by avgalen on Thu 22nd Feb 2018 14:37 in reply to "RE[4]: Google is not a monpoly"
avgalen Member since:

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.

This is the same in the USA. Being a monopoly is perfectly fine both in the EU and in the USA
USA monopolies have to engage in the construction of barriers before they get punished.

This is the same in the EU. You can only get punished if you do something wrong

In the EU a company with a 'dominant share' is not allowed to 'distort' the market.

And again, this is the same in the USA.

The differences between the USA and the EU are in the details. The USA is mainly concerned with monopolies (1 company > 50%) while the EU is mainly concerned with "considerable marketpower" (3 companies, all 30%)
Another detail is that the USA is mostly concerned with protecting companies from other companies while the EU is more concered with protecting consumers from companies.

These topics are extremely difficult to summarize and there are many exceptions so please consider the above just the outlines.

The most important difference that I see in reality is that it is very rare for the USA to do something against big corporations while the EU seems to have less hesitation to do so.

Reply Parent Score: 5

jonsmirl Member since:

Another detail is that the USA is mostly concerned with protecting companies from other companies while the EU is more concerned with protecting consumers from companies.

I believe it is the opposite of this. That was a main point in the original article -- it is difficult to accuse Google of anti-trust in the US if you can't demonstrate consumers are being harmed.

Note -- in the Microsoft case it was utterly obvious that consumers were being harmed. At one point I had 32 unwanted copies of Windows that I had been forced to buy with PCs that were used for other operating systems. I refused to agree to the EULA on all of them but of course Microsoft would not give a refund. At that point in time the only way to get a refund was to take Microsoft to small claims court.

The EU action against Google was the opposite of this. There was no evidence of consumer harm, consumer prices were actually lower on Google shopping. This was 100% about Google's impact on other companies.

And as to that impact, I think the EU's first made the decision to extract a few billion out of Google and then made up some flimsy arguments to support that preordained decision. It it total manure that they defined the market to exclude Ebay and Amazon from the competitive analysis.

Edited 2018-02-22 16:44 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 0