On Tuesday, the European Commission (EC) announced that it is levying a $2.7bn fine on search giant Google for abusing its dominant search position to illegally favor its own vertical shopping search offering, Google Shopping.
In explaining the record fine for breaking EU antitrust rules, EC Commissioner Margrethe Vestager stated:
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that EU regulators are possibly just weeks away from slapping Google with antitrust charges based on complaints similar to those levelled against it in the United States.
Has Google altered its algorithm to favor its own properties in vertical search results?
Numerous publishers which now find themselves competing with the search engine they rely on for valuable traffic have accused Google of doing just that. Some in the industry have even petitioned antitrust regulators to look into the matter.
In 1998, the United States Department of Justice and 20 states filed a lawsuit against Microsoft alleging that the software giant abused a monopoly position in the market to dominate the market for web browsers.
The stakes were high. If it lost, Microsoft could have been forced to break itself into two parts. And even though it eventually settled under more favorable terms, the case against Microsoft is arguably the defining moment in the company’s history.
In a move widely anticipated, the United States Justice Department today filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and some of the largest book publishers over allegations that they colluded to raise ebook prices.
The publishers named in the lawsuit are Simon & Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin and Macmillan.
In the run-up to the Facebook IPO, some observers are casting a skeptical eye towards the social network’s advertising business. Ads, not surprisingly, account for much of the company’s revenue, and there are certainly some areas of concern.
But if two lawyers have their way, Facebook’s virtual currency business, which many believe is also crucial to the company’s future, could be facing major challenges.
Google may be best-known as a search engine, but with more than 350m people actively using its Gmail service and more than 90m registered users on its Google+ social network, it’s clear that Google isn’t just a search engine.
Increasingly, that’s creating some tension as the Mountain View-based company uses search to promote its other offerings. Now, it appears that Google has turned to its signup form in its effort to boost usage of those offerings.
Antitrust regulators in Europe have Google in their sights. In November 2010, the European Commission opened an informal investigation into the search giant to determine if it is abusing its position in the market.
The investigation covers everything from the company’s treatment of competitors’ search results to its new social network Google+. Normally, antitrust investigations like this take years to complete, but
it appears that the EU may be moving much more quickly than normal.
The deep integration of Google+ results into its search results is perhaps the strongest reminder yet of the fact that Google is competing head on with publishers and other companies. Publishers and companies that hope to achieve top rankings in the company’s search results.
For companies hit by Google’s Panda updates, the search giant’s approach to cleaning up its index may seem quite unfair.
But if Google has been aggressive with Panda, its efforts appear to be
no match when compared to Microsoft’s efforts to increase index quality
on Bing. Need proof? Just ask CyberMonday.com, which is run by the
National Retail Federation’s Shop.org.
Little more than a decade ago, Microsoft was public enemy number one. After the United States Justice Department filed suit, a judge ruled that the world’s largest software maker was a monopoly and must be broken up.
That ruling was overturned, and in 2001, the company settled with the Department of Justice.
Today, Microsoft is still one of the world’s largest software makers, and Internet Explorer, the product that was the focus of so much of the government’s action against the company, is still the world’s most widely-used internet browser.
The company, however, has been humbled in markets like search and mobile, which were nascent in 2001. The implication: try as hard as they might, big technology companies can’t use their size to guarantee success.