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238 comments

This was predicted to happen two years ago (5, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904069)

This might seem ridiculous

Why would it?

Microsoft was punished for pumping a market with a free product, with its development supported by revenues from a monopoly product, so that they could afford to give it away where competitors could not. If Google offers something for free, kills off its competitors who were charging for their version, and then starts charging when they're the only ones left, then the French court has a point.

Even the headline in the linked article is absurd: "French court protectionism fines Google Maps for succeeding". No, that's not what they were fined for. They were fined for what French competitor Bottin claimed would happen two years ago--Google would offer Maps for free, make their competitors go bankrupt, and then start charging for Maps once they controlled the market. That's precisely what ended up happening!

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904155)

Is Linux unfair competition for Windows because it's given away for free? It's a stupid argument. If a group wants to give something away for free, let them. You can compete with free.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (5, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904195)

Is Linux unfair competition for Windows because it's given away for free?

There's no danger that everyone using Linux will have to pay Linus Torvalds to keep using it after it gains market ascendancy.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904463)

There's no danger of Linux gaining market ascendancy.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (5, Funny)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904465)

Given the trend, we'll have to pay Microsoft for it, no matter what laws they break.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (2)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904741)

I find it difficult to understand how "Linux", being a loose consortium of code trees under no one's direct control, not even Torvalds', and who's chief product everyone has the source code to, would be in any position to suddenly pull some kind of magic lever and induce all users to start paying a license fee.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (1)

Kwayzu (2550882) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904261)

Linux has been around a long time but is no where near taking over or making Apple or Microsoft from going bankrupt.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (5, Insightful)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904497)

More to the point, certainly Linux is not anywhere near making Apple or Microsoft worry but Google is. And every day on Slashdot, it seems, there's another story where Google is behaving in ways we'd expect from the nefarious Microsoft but not from our loving friends at Google.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38905161)

They are not and never have been our loving friends.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (5, Interesting)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904317)

Is Linux unfair competition for Windows because it's given away for free? It's a stupid argument. If a group wants to give something away for free, let them. You can compete with free.

That's not necessarily true. If a company is generating massive revenues from a dominant product (in this case web search advertising), using that revenue to fund development of a free product in another market can be viewed as an anticompetitive abuse of monopoly position. Competitors who don't have a source of monopoly revenues have to offset their costs by charging for their product. To make your comparison more accurate, imagine if Ubuntu supplanted Windows as the dominant desktop OS by giving away a free product, and then once all competitors were completely marginalized, began charging for Ubuntu Linux. People would have little choice but to pay because it would be the dominant OS that everything ran on.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (2)

bamwham (1211702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904379)

No. It would require Ubuntu to have a near monopoly, or maybe just a LARGE warchest, generating enough income through some other product that they can absorb a loss on the operating system development/distribution. The comparison falls apart, because, other than an operating system, what is Ubuntu doing well enough in to build a warchest or monopoly.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (5, Insightful)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904521)

If a company is generating massive revenues from a dominant product (in this case web search advertising), using that revenue to fund development of a free product in another market can be viewed as an anticompetitive abuse of monopoly position.

No, it can't. The source of the money isn't the thing that matters. If Warren Buffet is preposterously wealth, but has no dominant market position in anything (just a lot of money), and he decides he wants to start giving away eyeglasses for free (i.e. below cost) until all competing eyeglass makers go out of business so that he can subsequently monopolize the market, he's going to be in trouble. It has nothing to do with the source of the money used to sell things below cost.

By contrast, Google, who wasn't selling below cost (because free + ads is profitable and therefore not below cost), wasn't doing anything wrong. They were doing exactly what competitors in a free market are supposed to do: Providing a competitive product for a low price while still making a profit. The fact that some of their competitors couldn't hack it in a market with aggressive competition is not the fault of the company offering the best product for the lowest price.

This is made blatantly obvious by the fact that they raised their prices before they had anything close to a monopoly in the market in question. They still compete with Microsoft, OSM and others. If customers don't want to use Google Maps or decide that the higher rates are too high, they still have multiple alternatives.

France is just butthurt that the French competitors were among those who couldn't compete.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (5, Insightful)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904647)

That's horseshit and you know it. Google was the dominant player in that space, period. To deny it is to stick your head in the sand and go "LALALALALALALALALA".

And yes, Google was giving away use of Google Maps FOR FREE. Not Free+Ads, but FREE. If you were a developer, you were allowed to use the Maps API for free. And now that they have achieved a dominant market position, mainly because their API was free, they are charging for its use. That is the very definition of anticompetitive: Artificially lower your rates through subsidies from your other departments, then once you've achieved dominance, raise your rates.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (2)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904949)

Google was the dominant player in that space, period.

Because they're offering the best product for the lowest price while still making a profit, right? You do know that it's not illegal to a have a large market share as a result of all your competition sucking.

And yes, Google was giving away use of Google Maps FOR FREE. Not Free+Ads, but FREE. If you were a developer, you were allowed to use the Maps API for free.

If you go to maps.google.com, you see ads. If you click on the "Google" logo in the corner of a map on a site that uses the Google Maps API, it takes you to maps.google.com, where you see ads.

On top of that, the antitrust problem comes when someone sells below cost. Google's cost for providing an additional website with access to the maps API is effectively zero -- certainly it's less than the value of the advertising benefit they get from being able to put their logo and a link to their own service on that site.

It's blatantly obvious that they weren't selling below cost, because even before they changed the price, Google Maps was making a profit. You can't simultaneously sell below cost and make a profit -- they're mutually exclusive.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (2)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904953)

IIRC Google is only charging for the API for massive for profit use.
First 25,000 loads a day are free after that I do not remember the price but I remember thinking it was fairly cheap.
Good product and free to cheap on price.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (2)

ChronoFish (948067) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904991)

Except that Google Maps API is once again free - except for use in Mobile apps.

-CF

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (1)

IronHalik (1568993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904703)

If a company is generating massive revenues from a dominant product (in this case web search advertising), using that revenue to fund development of a free product in another market can be viewed as an anticompetitive abuse of monopoly position.

So your saying that if I have funds to roll out a product, its unfair towards companies that don't have same amount of funds? :)

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (2)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904319)

The point isn't that Google were giving it away free, which as you say is really the same as any other price. It is that the were selling it a huge loss to corner the market.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (1)

Rotten (8785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904459)

False: Linux is not windows, you can give it for free, people wanting windows will have to pay for windows. Linux it's a fair competition, not a free giveaway of the same product.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (2)

Flammon (4726) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904755)

Is Linux unfair competition for Windows because it's given away for free?

Yes, if Linux was a monopoly [wikipedia.org] and it didn't follow the rules [wikipedia.org] .

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904165)

I don't see how that's fine-worthy. That's the market working. If the consumers of those products are not smart enough to read between the lines, and recognize that building products on top of free services is a bad idea, then Google deserves the win in my book - they bought into a system where they're beholden to someone, and that someone ought to be able to monetize that situation at some point or another.

If people get fed up with Google, and there is a demand for another service, then one will come along and fight them for it - it's not like Google didn't unseat the original kings of search by simply creating a better product.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904271)

I know! How dare Google get punished for doing the same things.Microsoft got punished for! Don't the French courts know that anything Google does is okay since their motto is "do no evil"? How dare they apply anti-competition laws equally to all companies. This is probably all just an M$ plot against Saint Google.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (4, Insightful)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904313)

I don't see how that's fine-worthy. That's the market working. If the consumers of those products are not smart enough to read between the lines, and recognize that building products on top of free services is a bad idea, then Google deserves the win in my book - they bought into a system where they're beholden to someone, and that someone ought to be able to monetize that situation at some point or another.

If people get fed up with Google, and there is a demand for another service, then one will come along and fight them for it - it's not like Google didn't unseat the original kings of search by simply creating a better product.

One of the principles of a free market is that people have perfect information and act rationally on it. If people lack information then it isn't an example of a free market working properly. So no, taking advantage of people who aren't smart enough to read between the lines is not a good example of the market working. It may be profitable, but it isn't a "free market".

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (5, Informative)

repapetilto (1219852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904477)

You are confused.

A free market is a competitive market where prices are determined by supply and demand.[citation needed] A free-market economy is one within which all markets are unregulated by any parties other than market participants.[citation needed] Free markets contrast sharply with controlled markets or regulated markets, in which governments more actively regulate prices and/or supplies, directly or indirectly.[1] In its purest form, the government plays a neutral role in its administration and legislation of economic activity, neither limiting it (by regulating industries or protecting them from internal/external market pressures) nor actively promoting it (by owning economic interests or offering subsidies to businesses or R&D). A free market is not to be confused with a perfect market where individuals have perfect information and there is perfect competition.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_market [wikipedia.org]

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (1)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904321)

The problem is that the consumer will have no competitor to run to. The provider forces the competition out of the market by subsidizing their new product with profits from an existing product.

I understand that it's possible for a competitor to then come to market, but then Google has enough money to pull a similar strategy: charge less than the competitor needs to charge to stay in business, and raise prices again once the competition dies.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904569)

Alternative: Google sets price low enough that no one bothers to enter the market and avoids irritating customers. This is one of those cultural differences between the US and Europe - In the US big sales/temporary discounts are quite common while in e.g. Germany, they are fairly regulated because they view price stability as a good thing (probably due to experiencing hyper-inflation at one point).

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (-1, Troll)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904381)

I don't see how that's fine-worthy. That's the market working. If the consumers of those products are not smart enough to read between the lines, and recognize that building products on top of free services is a bad idea, then Google deserves the win in my book - they bought into a system where they're beholden to someone, and that someone ought to be able to monetize that situation at some point or another.

I never thought I'd see this sentiment on Slashdot, the community that watched the Microsoft antitrust trial with bated breath, but apparently standards change when it's a Linux-based company. I mean, you're actually arguing that it's okay for a company that arguably has a monopoly position in one market to take over other markets with free products funded with monopoly revenues, and then turn around and charge for that product when they're the only option left. Whether or not Google really did that, or if it was their intent all along, that's certainly worth debating, but it is most certainly the reason Google got fined.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904673)

I have a friend that makes websites, periodically, he'll build them/host them in exchange for a service - e.g. make a site for a gym in exchange for a free membership or law office in exchange for legal services. This works well for all concerned, but if the gym decide to go national and drastically expand their website needs, the exchange would no longer work. From my perspective, this seems to be what happened with maps - when it was allow a static map of your business to be placed on your website, Google's costs were probably minimal enough that the branding alone covered things. Now that you have more sophisticated usage (and usage embedded in other sites) that mutual exchange no longer works. Everyone decries this theoretical "dumping" monopoly, but in reality, those without strong network effects remain constrained by the possibility of competitors entering the market - Standard Oil became a monopoly by driving prices below where others could compete, they never returned to the previous norms after driving others under because they wanted to maintain their monopoly. Similarly, steel dumping, at least in the short run can't let the manufacturer significantly raise prices because someone can buy up the equipment from the bankrupt former competitor and reenter the market once prices rise again.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (1, Flamebait)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904175)

Fine, don't let them have the copyrights or patents that would allow them to control the market.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (5, Informative)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904341)

Still trolling, I see. A few quick notes:
* Google doesn't have a monopoly anywhere, even in search.
* Google Maps is not given away, it sports ads, and the API costs money to access
* You fail to mention Mapquest, or MS maps. Why just sue Google for its maps? Because it is the best one out there?
* Why should Bottin be kept alive? Why not Garmin?

In short, you're wrong on two fundamental counts: that this is anything but protectionism of the most basic nature, and that somehow Google Maps is both special, and not, in the world of online map services.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (5, Informative)

pijokela (462279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904435)

Still trolling, I see. A few quick notes:
* Google doesn't have a monopoly anywhere, even in search.

Google search most certainly is a monopoly. A legal monopoly does not require 100% market share. Companies have been deemed monopolies with under 50% share and Google is way higher then that - go google it if you don't believe me.

Now, having a monopoly is not illegal, but using your monopoly profits to corner other markets is illegal. This is exactly the same thing that MS was convicted of a decade ago. Google it. When MS was killing Netscape it took the authorities years to act and the trial also took forever to end - Google just hasn't been doing this long enough to end in court yet.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (2)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904537)

By what definition? From http://definitions.uslegal.com/m/monopoly/ [uslegal.com] :

Monopoly is a control or advantage obtained by one entity over the commercial market in a specific area. Monopolization is an offense under federal anti trust law. The two elements of monopolization are (1) the power to fix prices and exclude competitors within the relevant market. (2) the willful acquisition or maintenance of that power as distinguished from growth or development as a consequence of a superior product, business acumen or historical accident.

I have no idea how Google Search has the ability to either fix prices or exclude competitors through anything but offering a better product. Feel free to provide your argument, but at this point I see no evidence that Google is in a position where it either has a monopoly (control of or advantage in the search market), or that it is using monopoly power to advance that position.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (3, Interesting)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904745)

Why don't you read your definition again? According to that, Google most definitely does have a monopoly in search. They are dominant in that area. And what they're getting slapped for is not for having a monopoly on search, which is quite fine, but by abusing that monopoly to edge themselves into other markets and drive out competition.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (0, Redundant)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38905089)

Please show me how Google has the ability to fix prices in the Search market, AND how they grow their market share in that market through means other than normal business operation. Finally, show that Bottin is somehow active in the online map market. Actually, I'll save you the trouble: they are a terrible knock-off of the original Yahoo, but aimed at businesses. Google has little to do with their market.

Note that being dominant in an area has very little to do with being a monopoly, and even less to do with monopolization of your market position.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904621)

You're an idiot. A monopoly isn't defined by market share.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904839)

Now, having a monopoly is not illegal, but using your monopoly profits to corner other markets is illegal.

Your argument is that it's not illegal to have a monopoly but it is illegal to get one? A little circular, no?

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38905215)

His argument is that's it's illegal to use a monopoly you already have in one market to obtain a monopoly in another market by squeezing out competition. There's nothing circular here.

By your own definition Google is not a monopoly (2)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38905085)

Your right, it's not all about market share. It's about being able to control the market, and abusing that control.

I certainly have a choice to not use google maps, or google search. I can easily switch from google maps, to yahoo maps, or to mapquest; it takes seconds. Absoluty nothing ties me to google.

This is not true with OSes. If I switch from windows, to linux, I will not be able to run my applications. OS makers have much more potential than search engines, to abuse their monopoly positions.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (2)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904495)

The same could have been said with microsoft. There were (and are) other operating systems, web browsers, spreadsheet applications, word processing applications, etc. The courts said at the time microsoft had enough of a lead that by leveraging that lead into other markets that is wrong.

Google is charging when it did not in the past. If google didn't change there would be no issue. The change in behavior is the problem. If you kill the competition with a free product then when you are the only game in town, (or believed to be the only game in town like microsoft was) change your tactics, you may have a court date ahead. If google had charged from day 1 this would not be an issue.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (4, Interesting)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904705)

* Google doesn't have a monopoly anywhere, even in search.

Maybe you should stop being a child and trying to insinuate that the only way someone can have a monopoly is by being the only actor. That's not true, and hasn't been for a long time.

* Google Maps is not given away, it sports ads, and the API costs money to access

It was with respect to the developer API, which is what the case is about. You could use that API for FREE, not free + ads. And now that they are the dominant player in the space, and one could easily say they got there because they were free, they are raising their prices. That is the very definition of anti-competitive.

You fail to mention Mapquest, or MS maps. Why just sue Google for its maps? Because it is the best one out there?

Because they're the ones with the legal monopoly.

Why should Bottin be kept alive? Why not Garmin?

Why should Google Maps get to survive by subsidies from other Google divisions? Why can't they compete on their own?

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904837)

Just because something isn't technically a monopoly, doesn't mean it can't behave like one. There's no question that Google is one of the biggest tech/information behemoths of this age. They certainly have enough power to artificially influence a market. Plus, I think you misunderstand the "free" thing. The API HAD been free and, only last year, Google starting charging many thousands of dollars (would have been $200,000-$300,000 for StreetEasy who has since gone open source). If messing with the market like that (staying free until most users preferred Google over others and THEN switching to be enormously expensive) is not illegal, it is certainly violating the long dead "do no evil."

Even if you side with them on this case, there's no denying that they are, at least potentially, very very dangerous as a company.

Wasn't Mapquest around way before Google maps? (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904987)

If so, why wasn't mapquest a monolopy? I think yahoo maps were also around before google maps? Why wasn't yahoo fined?

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (1, Flamebait)

s.petry (762400) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904361)

Apples to Bananas comparison.

Microsoft took technology that already existed and people already used and paid for and gave it away free until the competition died out. (Word/Word Perfect Anti-trust suit ??). With Browser technology they forced Windows VARS to install IE and play by a set of rules that said no competitive products could be installed (initial Anti-trust suit) even if the customer requested it. When busted, they spit in the courts face and forced vendors by forcing vendors to only install old unsupported versions of the product (Anti-trust suit number 3).

Google Maps on the other hand was a new business. It became extremely popular, and is still FREE to use for anyone. Google started charging for the APIs (which were initially free) to connect to Google Map data, without the Google service.

How about you search the US DOJ and EU Courts for Anti-trust suites and compare again. While I'm not saying Google is innocent of everything they are accused of they are actually way better than the shitbags we know as Microsoft.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (3, Informative)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904443)

Sorry but Google Maps was not a new product and neither was internet map services when Google acquired it. Mapquest was around since 1996 and even OpenStreetMap predates it and there were plenty of other services. But hey we gotta keep up the Google defenses!

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904599)

You mean the other free map services. I am thoroughly confused your logic is ridiculous. You address one minor point of a post, you don't prove what you are saying and act like the defence hinges on that one point. Please elucidate us on how the fact that there are other free map services is not a defence, that predated Google Maps. Google Maps' killer feature, if you all recall, was dynamically scrollable/zoomable maps. It was an innovative different product. I remember vividly clicking the little link images in mapquest to scroll the map and waiting for the whole page to load another advertisment soaked page.
Google competed with those other free map services, and won because it was better.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904695)

FIU's TerraFly had those same features many years before Google.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (2)

s.petry (762400) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904917)

Sorry, but you miss the very obvious point I made: What is Google charging for? It's not the Google Map service. It's the APIs so that you can access the Google data without Google services.

Comparing that to what Microsoft did, and does is simply ignorant. Sorry, no other way to put it. Ignorance can always be cured with education though.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (4, Informative)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904775)

It became extremely popular, and is still FREE to use for anyone.

No, it's not. Not for DEVELOPERS, which is the entire point of this suit. The Maps API used to be free. Now that they have a dominant market position, it's not.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (2)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904413)

Microsoft was punished for pumping a market with a free product, with its development supported by revenues from a monopoly product, so that they could afford to give it away where competitors could not.

Wrong. Microsoft was convicted of tying [wikipedia.org] (among other things). Bundling two products in the same shrinkwrap is tying. Offering two services on two separate websites is not tying.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904421)

Even the headline in the linked article is absurd: "French court protectionism fines Google Maps for succeeding". No, that's not what they were fined for. They were fined for what French competitor Bottin claimed would happen two years ago--Google would offer Maps for free, make their competitors go bankrupt, and then start charging for Maps once they controlled the market. That's precisely what ended up happening!

So instead of France doing something back then, when the competitors could have made money, they waited until those competitors went bankrupt and levied a fine for their *own* profit?

I like their business strategy.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (1)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904449)

Punished? You call that punishment? I'm not saying google is innocent at all, I'm just saying the big fat bastards at Microsoft weren't punished in a meaningful way. And, for the record, I have installed 5 windows machines and have never seen the "browser ballot". Nor did I see it in existing machines.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904657)

Microsoft was punished for pumping a market with a free product, with its development supported by revenues from a monopoly product, so that they could afford to give it away where competitors could not.

Can we at least try to have a less tenuous relationship with facts? Microsoft wasn't charged with dumping (which is what you're accusing Google of), they were charged with tying, which means refusing to allow someone who wants to buy Windows to get it without Internet Explorer (ostensibly discounted for the value of Internet Explorer). They're totally different things.

Incidentally, the reason Microsoft wasn't charged with dumping -- and the reason that isn't what Google is doing now -- is that software and web services have as close as makes no difference to zero unit cost. It's pretty hard to sell below cost when your cost is zero.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (1)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904821)

Bogus. Google's big competition in the States is ESRI, with their ArcGIS products. ESRI also has a free version that provides users limited functionality, and they also have a version that users pay a boat load of money for... for a LOT more functionality.

As another user pointed out, Google is not alone in this space. If Bottin has a better product, they will be able to make money with it. If all they have is a bare bones, basic map service, they are going to have a hard time to convince me.

Re:This was predicted to happen two years ago (1)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904857)

I should say that ESRI is Google's big competitor in the MAPS field. Don't do much in Google's other areas.

Always depends on the product (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904859)

Similar example: The EU sells cheap food (subsidised exports) in developing African countries, forcing local farmers out of business. That is clearly unethical.

In the map service case it's not unethical (a map service is not critical to ones survival), but of course it isn't "fair" to kill a market with a free but closed and proprietary product (free as in subsidised by the manufacturer with money made elsewhere).

Slashdot is dead (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904085)

Infiltrated by Google employees and well-wishers, Slashdot consistently offers justifications for every bad behavior and terrible decision coming from Google. Just look at the privacy changes article in which fanboys banded together to make sure Google was perceived as the good guy and that anyone critical of them was modbombed.

Just to recap, Google is a multibillion dollar advertising megacorporation that was caught by the German government sniffing people's wifi data (they "accidentally" did it for three years before admitting it only when authorities threatened an investigation), forced people to use real names on Google+ and admitted it was an identity service and not a social network, stuffed Google+ results into the search engine without any competing social networks even though they have those networks indexed by the search engine (hello, Microsoft tactics), said that the only people who care about privacy "have something to hide," hacked into Mocality to call its customers, removed H.264 support in Chrome out of "openness" only to turn around and ship the closed-source Flash plugin, withheld Android source from the public but shared it with privileged hardware partners so they could have a leg up, abused their Android compatibility program to make things difficult for smartphone makers who chose Bing over Google, and on and on and on.

With all this crap they pull that would get them completely trashed if they were Microsoft or any other company, there's one reason and one reason only that they have been propped up as the good guy on Slashdot all these years--Linux. They use Linux. Slashdot is a Linux advocacy site, and so because Google uses Linux, they are good guys and get a pass for everything. That's all it takes to get Slashdot to love you. Just use Linux.

Hypocrites. When Microsoft used their Windows monopoly revenues to fund development of Internet Explorer and release it for free to try to dominate the web market, everyone here cried "antitrust!" But when Google uses its web search monopoly revenues to fund development of Android and release it for free to try to dominate smartphones, everyone defends it. For anyone who was on Slashdot during those times, to see Google doing all the very same things Microsoft did but get a completely different reaction is surreal.

Slashdot is a bubble. You only get pro-Google, pro-Linux news. Major news occurring elsewhere is often days late, if it gets reported at all. The Google+ search results fiasco is huge all over the tech sites right now, but there's nothing about it here, as if it doesn't even exist as a controversy. And did you know iOS surpassed Android in marketshare by the end of 2011 according to three research firms? With how obsessed Slashdot is over marketshare, and how they constantly trumpeted Android's marketshare all the time as a victory last year, you'd think it would be big news. But, no. This is pro-Google territory, pro-Linux territory. Gotta keep the natives happy for more page views.

This will get modded down because trolls have taken over the moderation system and openly subvert it. That's fine. It just proves my point about how Slashdot reacts to anything outside the partyline. This site's news reporting is old, antiquated, and slow, but the news isn't even why people come here anymore. The part of the community still remaining (after its years-long exodus to Reddit, Hacker News, and other sites, which is why traffic has decreased so dramatically on most Slashdot stories today) only comes here to pat themselves on the back for thinking a certain way. "Yeah, Microsoft is still evil! Yeah, Google is still the good guy! Yeah, Apple is still for chumps!" It's the year 2000 forever on Slashdot.

Re:Slashdot is dead (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904789)

I'm with ya on most of your points, but you act like pro-Linux news is a bad thing.

Slashdot smears google practically every day (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38905211)

Seriously, search for yourself. Many of the google smears, that slashdot loves so much, come from extremely dubioius sources (anti-google bloggers); but slashdot publishes them anyway, as if they were real news.

Sorry if slashdot does not smear google enough for you, but really I think enough is enough.

iOS now has more marketshare than Android (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904111)

According to Reuters, Apple surpassed Android in marketshare [reuters.com] by the end of 2011, confirming earlier reports by both Nielsen [nielsen.com] and NPD [gigaom.com] . 150 Android smartphones couldn't beat the iPhone 4S. With 15 million iPads sold last quarter, the tablet market is now larger than the entire desktop PC market. Apple’s profits ($13 billion) exceeded Google’s entire revenue ($10.6 billion).

Who cares? Well, in January 2011, Slashdot triumphantly reported that Android surpassed iOS in marketshare [slashdot.org] . All year, Android fans cited Android's marketshare as proof that it was taking over the smartphone industry, that the lack of centralized control was superior to the "walled garden", and that Android was "winning".

So what happened when the opposite occurred and Apple reversed Android's marketshare lead by the end of the year? Despite multiple submissions from several users, and news coverage ranging from Arstechnica to CNN, Slashdot refused to publish the story. All the sudden, it wasn't considered newsworthy despite the publication of the other story a year earlier.

This is a Linux advocacy site whose initial userbase was driven by hatred of Windows marketshare. Marketshare is still highly fetishized around here. Anything negative about the marketshare of Linux, or platforms based on Linux, gets killed. Slashdot is intentionally not providing you full tech news coverage because it caters to a specific demographic of emotionally-invested users who are more likely to generate repeat page views.

Re:iOS now has more marketshare than Android (0)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904509)

So...you're mad because you hang out in slashdot?
So...you're mad because open-source can have some triumph?
So...you're mad because there are people out there who believe in supporting a cause?
So...you're mad because a site with a high density of Linux users seems to support Linux some more?
So...you're mad because Microsoft isn't paying you?
So...what the fuck is up in your fucking twisted mind?

The first Slashdot troll post investigation (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904131)

The last few months I have been doing some research into the trolling phenomenon on slashdot.org. In order to do this as thoroughly as possible, I have written both normal and troll posts, 1st posts, etc., both logged in and anonymously, and I have found these rather shocking results:

* More moderator points are being used to mod posts down than up. Furthermore, when modding a post up, every moderator seems to follow previous moderators in their choices, even when it's not a particularly interesting or clever post [slashdot.org] . There are a LOT more +5 posts than +3 or +4.

* Logged in people are modded down faster than anonymous cowards. Presumably these Nazi Moderators think it's more important to burn a user's existing karma, to silence that individual for the future, than to use the moderation system for what it's meant for : identifying "good" and "bad" posts (Notice how nearly all oppressive governments in the past and present do the same thing : marking individuals as bad and untrustworthy because they have conflicting opinions, instead of engaging in a public discussion about these opinions)

* Once you have a karma of -4 or -5, your posts have a score of -1 by default. When this is the case, no-one bothers to mod you down anymore. This means a logged in user can keep on trolling as much as he (or she) likes, without risking a ban to post on slashdot. When trolling as an anonymous user, every post starts at score 0, and you will be modded down to -1 ON EVERY POST. When you are modded down a certain number of times in 24 hour, you cannot post anymore from your current IP for a day or so. So, for successful trolling, ALWAYS log in.

* A lot of the modded down posts are actually quite clever [slashdot.org] , funny [slashdot.org] , etc., and they are only modded down because they are offtopic. Now, on a news site like slashdot, where the number of different topics of discussion can be counted on 1 hand, I must say I quite like the distraction these posts offer. But no, when the topic is yet another minor version change of the Linux kernel, they only expect ooohs and aaahs about this great feat of engineering. Look at the moderation done in this thread to see what I mean.

* Digging deep into the history of slashdot, I found this poll [slashdot.org] , which clearly indicates the vast majority does NOT want the moderation we have here today. 'nuff said.

Feel free to use this information to your advantage. I thank you for your time.

Anonymous cowards are... well, cowards.

Re:The first Slashdot troll post investigation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904301)

You should submit this for a story. It seems like news for nerds.

Re:The first Slashdot troll post investigation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904351)

Once you have a karma of -4 or -5, your posts have a score of -1 by default

How does one even get a negative karma on this site?!

Airbus (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904143)

Just sayin. France is being hypocritical.

Re:Airbus (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904367)

Not so much hypocritical, as keenly protective of its local industries. France is big on the concept of national industrial champions, and will protect them at great cost to the treasury. This is par for the coruse.

Re:Airbus (5, Funny)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904377)

Airbuses are free? I'll take two

G Maps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904171)

All i got to say is that if Google wants to make the mistake of charging too much for their product let them face the consequences of decreased market share. Capitalism FTW!

Re:G Maps (0, Flamebait)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904229)

Market share is a percentage. How would it decrease if there aren't any competitors?

Re:G Maps (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904433)

Their monopoly is protected by IP law. The solution is simple and obvious.

Think about your breathing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904187)

Hello you are reading the THINK ABOUT YOUR BREATHING TROLL!
Yes that's right, THINK ABOUT YOUR BREATHING. Why you might ask? Well it's simple!
Your brain usually takes care of breathing FOR you, but whenever you remember this, YOU MUST MANUALLY BREATH! If you don't you will DIE.
There are also MANY variations of this. For example, think about:
1. BLINKING!
1. SWALLOWING SALIVA!
1. HOW YOUR FEET FEEL IN YOUR SOCKS!
1. THINK ABOUT YOUR BREATHING AGAIN!
In conclusion, the THINK ABOUT YOUR BREATHING troll is simply unbeatable. These 4 words can be thrown randomly into article text trolls, into sigs, into anything, and once seen, WILL FORCE THE VICTIM TO TAKE CARE OF HIS BREATHING MANUALLY! This goes far beyond the simple annoying or insulting trolls of yesteryear.
In fact, by EVEN RESPONDING to this troll, you are proving that IT HAS CLAIMED ANOTHER VICTIM -- YOU!

new google map of France (0)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904245)

... It just say "France"...

Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904247)

Make Google offer Maps indefinitely for free.

Loss Leader (3, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904279)

Are they going to make all loss leaders illegal? Seems to me it works the same for everyone, regardless of the industry.

Re:Loss Leader (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904363)

No it wont make loss leaders illegal. This is just typical punishment against anti-competitive tactics of using a near monopoly in one segment to finance pushing your competitors out of another segment. You know like what Microsoft was punished for with IE?

Re:Loss Leader (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904609)

The fact that Google uses Maps to sell ads and therefore MAKE money on maps means ... what exactly?

-GiH

Re:Loss Leader (1)

DdJ (10790) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904411)

Are they going to make all loss leaders illegal?

That certainly would be nice, wouldn't it?

Re:Loss Leader (-1, Flamebait)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904737)

That certainly would be nice, wouldn't it?

Why? Spoken exactly like someone who has never made anything, tried to expand a market, tested new demographics for an eventual business unit, or simply decided to raise a company's profile by using some its revenue to appeal to a broader audience in other areas. You know, brand building. If you're such a dim consumer that you can't understand the motivations, mechanisms, and value to you and the vendor in promotional pricing on certain items, then please go back to being a simple peasant and let someone else decide everything for you.

Re:Loss Leader (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904431)

Actually, to my knowledge in France it is illegal to sell products at a loss. This is precisely to prevent unfair competition, especially, when it's a case of the big guy trying to squeeze out the little guy.

Re:Loss Leader (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904819)

Loss leaders are not illegal. Using a loss leader to drive out competition, and then once you have a dominant marketshare, raising the price of that loss leader is.

Re:Loss Leader (3, Insightful)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904907)

A loss-leader is where the long term strategy is to have one product/service always being sold at a loss (or anyway "not enough" profit), in order to attract custom to a profitable product. An example for a manufacturer is razors (money's in the blades), an example of an outlet is milk (money is in the other stuff the customer picks up).

The argument is more that Google is using penetrative pricing. This is where you have a short term strategy to introduce a product/service at a loss in order to gain a foothold in the market, whereupon you can raise the pricing to competitive levels.

Penetrative pricing pricing becomes uncompetitive when the objective isn't to gain just a foothold, but to dominate the market. Regular penetrative pricing increases competition in the market over the long term while monopoly abuse decreases it. One indicator, not definitive, that the line has been crossed is when the amount of losses being racked up is so disproportionate that monopoly rents would be required to obtain a reasonable return on all that financing.

This is also why the charge tends to apply to existing companies moving into a new market and not a new up-start. If an up-start can obtain that kind of financing then the incumbents and other up-starts should be able to find it too - it's all just an action of a free and competitive market. Google on the other hand can throw so much resource at something that economic principles of "free" or "competitive" market forces do not apply.

When was the api free? (2)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904289)

For as long as I can remember, it was a paid service unless you where going to use under a given number of hits per month (and it was not a large number last time I checked). That let people play with it, but any serious work required a license.

Re:Free market. (1)

sempir (1916194) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904603)

The first thing you must NOT do in a free market is give your product away for free! You gotta charge for it so that means it's not for free. It's all linguistics as far as I can see. See.... in a free market things arn't for free.....things you get for free are in a "for free"market! And things you pay for are in a "free" market! OK?

Re:When was the api free? (1)

ChronoFish (948067) | more than 2 years ago | (#38905015)

That was the case for v2. v3 is free except when using Google Earth (which requires v2) or mobile apps (which to me seems reasonable).

-CF

True depending how you consider the whole issue (5, Informative)

Rotten (8785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904397)

As somebody working on the remote sensing/mapping/gis field for 10+ years. I tend to agree.

It's a long debate, but clearly the new concept of "paid api" it's confusing.

I perceived gmaps as a free tool in the beginning, but now, as they charge, it's no longer a tool, but a competitor.

Many hi definition data available "freely" on google maps/google earth, it's the result of a private customer paying for that data, and the by some weird agreement between the companies that run the satellites and google, the information ended up "FREE" on google maps.

A real life story:
I paid 250+K for 1 meter imagery (ikonos) for a project that was covered in google maps using old 30m imagery (90's landsat). Months later google has the 1m coverage i ordered and paid for, available for FREE to anyone else.

So i'm not only competing against google, but against people who no longer needs to order a quality work, since now it's there FREE.

Duh! That's certainly UNFAIR.

Re:True depending how you consider the whole issue (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904455)

Annnd... why haven't you sued?

Re:True depending how you consider the whole issue (2)

Rotten (8785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904491)

I found myself a more specialized line of work, some line of work google won't move into. High precision mapping won't be the case for google maps in the next 10 years. Unless my work starts appearing for free on google maps.... get my point?

Re:True depending how you consider the whole issue (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904611)

Unfair or not, it's a valid business model. If someone intervenes, then it's no longer a free market and you can expect other similar interventions in the future.

No, leave it as it is, a bussiness killer, but a legal one.

Technology has changed vastly in the last two decades, and with it the entire world. Don't force the world into a pattern just to suit some companies who couldn't keep up with the rest.

If you do, then you might as well agree with the **AA who try the same thing.

I wonder if I had the best storage device, storage capacity/physical volume. Would I fill the living room with every media, audio, video, text in electronic form there is?

Re:True depending how you consider the whole issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904627)

I certainly see your point, but in all seriousness, thanks for the 1 meter images. You needed it and could afford it, now everyone gets the benefit. I wish more things in the world were shared by those that can afford them.

Re:True depending how you consider the whole issue (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904659)

I'm sorry -- did you contract for exclusive rights to the 1m data? Are you arguing that Google stole your data and put it up for free? Google's market is in ads, not data -- they give away the data to get the ads. Now they're charging for the API -- in part because, hey look! profits!, but also because it keeps other sites for hosting google data without google ads (and thus denying Google the only value google scrapes from its maps data).

So ... what's unfair exactly? Maybe that the company that sold you those maps overcharged you.

-GiH

Re:True depending how you consider the whole issue (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904797)

If you wanted exclusive data rights, you should have paid for exclusive data rights. You didn't and so the kids with airplanes sold their data (not your data) to someone else who was willing to pay for it. If you were really ahead of the game, you would have gotten exclusive data rights, and then licensed them to resell your imagery. You failed at IP law because you didn't think about it. Sorry dude.

(I work for the DoD. We get fucked the same way, except that we don't pay for data rights, and then get stuck with a sole source who assrapes [slashdot.org] us)

Is everything you wish were different unfair? (3, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904805)

Duh! That's certainly UNFAIR.

If you meant that a huge publicly traded company under enormous scrutiny somehow directly or through arrangements with other people violeted contracts to which you were a party, then, sure. But you don't seem to be saying that. You seem to be saying that the marketplace has changed, and that you wish it hadn't.

Re:Is everything you wish were different unfair? (1)

Rotten (8785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38905003)

The marketplace haven't really changed, it's the same marketplace but now there's a new player offering things for free for some years, wiping out some competitors or pushing them away from the marketplace. And now....when their product it's a heavyweight champion...well...now they start to charge. That's unfair.

The fairness of including someone else's information in their product it's another story.

I'm a big supporter of the idea that information and knowledge should be free. But if that "freedom" has a price for the people who made that information, then it's no longer free. If the people who makes the information disappears, then the whole model has no sustainability. It's just a shortcut for google to make some quick money.
I don't see google funding automated mapping projects. Are they? 'Cos they will need it soon.

Re:True depending how you consider the whole issue (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904845)

I know what you mean and its not just Google!

I bought an entire set of encyclopedias - over $1000 worth. Now Wikipedia and the internet in general are giving people all this info for FREE.

Duh! That's certainly UNFAIR.

Re:True depending how you consider the whole issue (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904889)

So i'm not only competing against google, but against people who no longer needs to order a quality work, since now it's there FREE.

- good.

Duh! That's certainly UNFAIR.

- nonsense. It's completely fair and it's good, and it's progress and it's what free market is about, and government meddling with it is evil and bad for the economy and the free market.

Re:True depending how you consider the whole issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38905195)

Rather steep early adopter premium. Then again, I can see Google talking to those who create the images and inking some deal that they'll buy delayed copies of whatever imagery there is at a significant discount to whoever originally requested these images - if a satellite has to be maneuvered or a plane has to fly overhead there are significant costs, but if you have the negatives/original copies, then the marginal cost to sell them to Google is fairly cheap. I also doubt that paying a markup for exclusivity is worth it for most original customers.

Just put ads around maps (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904529)

Just put ads around or in maps. Broadcast TV is free because it's ad supported. Or, does France ban that too?

OpenStreetMap (5, Informative)

b0bby (201198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904941)

If you want a really free map source, try openstreetmap.org & some of the apps which use their maps. Still a work in progress, but much improved over even a year ago. If every geek on /. cleaned up their neighborhood map it would be better than the paid maps - I've certainly added features like weird one way streets and things around me which don't show up on commercial maps.

Google Maps is not a product, it is bait. (1)

bartoku (922448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38905007)

See Google Maps lures in unsuspecting users, whose eye balls are then sold to advertisers. Now these eye balls are not sold for free by any means.

I'm not seeing the issue (1)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 2 years ago | (#38905177)

... keep in mind that Google started charging for use of its mapping API once the free version had come to dominate the market.

I'm not really seeing the problem here.

Easy fix... (1)

neowolf (173735) | more than 2 years ago | (#38905213)

Google should just immediately start charging everyone in France for access to Maps. If their government wants to play these kinds of protectionist games- give them what they want...
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