Google v European Commission
The battle between Europe and Google looks set to continue even after the European Commission had forwarded on to Google a long statement of clear objections subsequent to a five year long study.
Basically (without going into all the details of the investigation), the European Commission accused Google of abusing its own dominant position in search, especially when it came to services it offered itself in shopping products and ‘other interests’.
Within the EU this quite clearly infringes on the good old ‘antitrust’ rules. It actually makes a lot of sense because whether or not Google admit it, a sponsored advert at the top of a page for a specific search, tailored in a way that no other advertiser can do, or a search result appearing first for a competitive search showing Google’s products, is obviously using their inside knowledge of their own products.
The Commission rightly states that it “stifles competition and harms consumers”.
Google however is standing its ground and is ready for a fight. Their legal council are coming back stating that the entire statement of objections is ‘incorrect’ and that their is a much bigger choice thanks to Google, let alone more opportunities for businesses.
Google faces some hefty fines if it loses its argument but they really are not going to give up on this one as they don’t think they have done anything wrong.
The Statement lists out many examples where Google’s sponsored ads clearly ‘divert’ traffic away from other businesses, however there is not much evidence in the document to support the theory or back it up with hard facts and figures.
Google know this and that is why they are coming back at the Commission. They are a data company after all and they are about to drown the Commission in figures, studies and of course technical jargon.
I did a search myself the other day for flights and the way Google’s own advert was shown was not something I had seen before in terms of layout. So in this case I agree with the Commission but in the bigger picture, Google can argue that their product, the search engine, has increased the way consumers purchase online and helped many businesses gain a foothold where they previously would have struggled.
The Commission on the other hand thinks it has a solid case and can impose fines on Google relating to a percentage of its annual income from the services it thinks are being abused.
Watch this space because this is going to be bigger that Mayweather v Pacquiao and just remember what Google did to the news service in Spain when it lost a fight there.