Hey Google, You’ve Been Served
Has it ever happened that you are fighting with someone over a random fact, and you are like, ok, let’s just Google it, and in a split of a second, you get the answer you were looking for? That is the power of Google. It’s been an essential part of our lives and, it has shaped the world of information, making it available to everyone, everywhere with a simple search box and a click away. Google is very effective and solves many issues for its users. That is why the company is where it today.
But Google is not just the search engine. They have many other highly profitable businesses too. Youtube, the biggest video platform. Google Maps, which I cannot live without, especially after moving to a new city. Google Adwords, Google Analytics, and Google Chrome are just some examples of their successful tools, programs, and software that constitute their business units.
What’s the issue?
The DOJ has filed an antitrust lawsuit accusing Google of anticompetitive tactics to capitalize their monopoly search engine and advertising business. Google has managed (by paying billions of dollars) to be the pre-set search engine of mobile manufacturers, such as Apple, making it impossible for other companies to compete.
Google is defending these allegations by stating the following: “People use Google because they choose to — not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.” I must say that I find this to be true. I haven’t found any other search engine that is as effective and accurate as Google. I mean, if I had to choose between Google and any other search engine, call it Yahoo or Bing, I would choose Google over the rest without hesitating. Now, I might be saying these things from a user’s point of view.
The other thing Google is defending is that users don’t pay to use their platforms or services. So, it’s not like they can leverage from changing the market prices like other monopolies do, such as gas and electricity. But I think they are forgetting about something…Mmm what can that be? Of course, the advertisers! What about the small businesses that want to be at the top of the search? This is where the real problem is. Google has over 80% market share of search engines on all devices. That means that they control the information we see and the top results on their webpage.
Google owns a lot of different businesses. Guess who appears on the top page? Yes, you guessed it, Google’s properties. Let’s take a look at some examples: Google weather, Google translate, and Google finance by mentioning a few. Now the problem here is that Google is ranking first the things that they own, limiting the opportunities of competitors who are paying them with ads and who might be doing a great job with their SEO strategy. And here is where the real monopoly is. Everyone wants to be on Google’s top results, but it gets harder and harder considering Google’s power on its search engine. It can also affect us as users, considering that the content of these smaller businesses may be of higher quality and more relevant.
What are the risks Google is facing?
This lawsuit will probably take years before reaching a verdict. So we will have to wait to see the final results. However, if Google loses this lawsuit, the company could be facing a big risk. They could be banned from certain practices or fined millions of dollars. However, this is not new for the company, since they have been fined in Europe before. But their biggest risk and the worst scenario for Google is that the government can force them to split their company, breaking up their search empire and, this could have serious consequences for Google’s position in the industry and their power over search and information.