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What an Anti-Google Antitrust Case By the FTC May Look Like

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the follow-the-competitors'-blueprint dept.

Google 167

hessian writes "It's not certain that Google will face a federal antitrust lawsuit by year's end. But if that happens, it seems likely to follow an outline sketched by Thomas Barnett, a Washington, D.C., lawyer on the payroll of Google's competitors. Barnett laid out his arguments during a presentation here last night: Google is unfairly prioritizing its own services such as flight search over those offered by rivals such as Expedia, and it's unfairly incorporating reviews from Yelp without asking for permission. 'They systematically reinforce their dominance in search and search advertising,' Barnett said during a debate on search engines and antitrust organized by the Federalist Society. 'Google's case ought to have been brought a year or two ago.'"

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Still Free (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771249)

Just pointing out, you have the easy option of typing www.bing.com in your address bar if you don't like their results.

Re:Still Free (2, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41771305)

Just pointing out, you have the easy option of typing www.bing.com in your address bar if you don't like their results.

... and you've always been able to go online and download the browser you prefer through Windows, but that hasn't stopped the US or EU governing bodies from slapping Microsoft with nigh endless anti-trust suits.

Re:Still Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771383)

Which is why the entire browser anti-trust suits are ridiculous. There are plenty of anti-trust issues you can bring up against microsoft. The fact that they bundle(d) their own default browser which you're not even required use always seemed trivial and the suit rather petty.

Re:Still Free (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771711)

It may seem ridiculous today but the internet was a very different place when Microsoft did the things that brought on that lawsuit. Micrsoft succeeded in drawing out the drama for a decade, but the fact remains that they did some very very very dirty things.

Today I with a few keystrokes and clicks I can install chrome in less than a minute and never see IE ever again.

Back then it could take hours to download a browser suite over a modem, and installation was faily complicated compared to installing chrome today. Most people got their browsers on disks from their ISP (Or just used IE because it was already there)

The old microsoft OSs really did go out of their way to force you to use IE. For kicks, and to play some old games, I installed windows 98SE in a VM. I forgot how many hoops you had to jump through. Until you deleted icons off the desktop, windows would try to force you to sign up for MSN before letting you use dial-up networking. (Not even remotely kidding) The whole experience was designed to force you to use IE, and it was pretty hard for the average user to use anything else.

Re:Still Free (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#41771765)

No. I disagree. The landscape for the internet was damaged horribly by Microsoft's defacto dominance and their tying the browser with the operating system. In fact, Microsoft has even managed to harm MS Windows by taking this route. (By tying the browser to the OS, they have made having multiple versions of MSIE impossible as far as I can tell.. please link me to proof if I am wrong.) And by tying the browser to the OS, a vulnerability in the browser is a vulnerability in the OS and everything hosted by and accessible to the OS. Additionally, they used their OS dominance to affect other markets via their browser and its Microsoft-only compliance. It threatened the very framework of the web at large.

As a result of all the suits against Microsoft, the landscape has changed to favor a standards compliant direction. This is a huge improvement which would never have happened unless Microsoft was discouraged from their intended path.

I don't have an opinion about Google's tactics as to whether or not they are unfair. Users have never been locked into Google. Users choose which search engine they want to use. Bing is the default for "most default desktops" out there anyway. Google doesn't force users to decide which search engine they will use or lock them into anything. Their level of lock-in with Android is a little disturbing but even that's quite a bit of a choice... I could go without access to the Play store... there are alternatives but I can't imagine trusting any of them just yet. Or I could simply go without using any of those services at all.

I don't think what Google does even compares with what Microsoft has done. Google has created a very popular service. I see it as rather similar to TV channels. We all know, for example, that the news on Fox is slanted in a particular way and favors particular parties over others. If Google should be sued for not being 100% neutral, then perhaps Fox should be sued under the same requirements.

Re:Still Free (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 2 years ago | (#41771481)

you've always been able to go online and download the browser you prefer through Windows

Only after starting Internet Explorer then... wait, I already have a web browser? Why would I want to download another one?

This is pretty much how IE6 became the behemoth that it is. IE has an unbreakable advantage over every other browser: it's owned by the vendor whose OS is a monopoly in its market. That's why.

Re:Still Free (2)

jmauro (32523) | about 2 years ago | (#41771599)

IE6 benefited from some anti-competitive anti-bundling agreements with the OEMs that Microsoft got wrist slapped for by the DOJ [wikipedia.org] .

Because the OEMs couldn't bundle another browser, the main competition, Netscape, basically imploded due to lack of revenue. This left the market without a viable competitor. Giving IE all the space it needed to monopolize the market.

Re:Still Free (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41771605)

you've always been able to go online and download the browser you prefer through Windows

Only after starting Internet Explorer then... wait, I already have a web browser? Why would I want to download another one?

Your laziness != anti-trust behavior on the part of Microsoft. Now, if Windows somehow tried to prevent you from downloading/installing an alternate browser, I would understand, but that's just not the case.

Not to mention, if Windows didn't come with any browser whatsoever - how would you go about downloading a new one?

This is pretty much how IE6 became the behemoth that it is. IE has an unbreakable advantage over every other browser: it's owned by the vendor whose OS is a monopoly in its market. That's why.

Does OSX come, by default, with any alternate to Safari? No? Then why is MS treated like some kind of James Bond villain, but Apple isn't?

Re:Still Free (3, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | about 2 years ago | (#41771707)

Now, if Windows somehow tried to prevent you from downloading/installing an alternate browser, I would understand, but that's just not the case.

Which is somewhat what they did in preventing OEMs from bundling alternative browsers, which is what got them sued.

Re:Still Free (1)

Albanach (527650) | about 2 years ago | (#41772073)

Does OSX come, by default, with any alternate to Safari? No? Then why is MS treated like some kind of James Bond villain, but Apple isn't?

Because, at the time Microsoft controlled almost the entire PC market. Apple were tiny by comparison to where they stand today.

Since Microsoft Windows was installed on every computer and they came with Internet Explorer already included, Microsoft was able to use a monopoly in one industry (PC operating systems) to create a monopoly in another (internet browsers).

As for how you would get another browser, these were the days when every news stand was full of computer magazines that had CD Roms and, later, DVDs attached to the cover. Most folk didn't have the bandwidth to download large programs easily, so you just installed from disc.

Apple could easily have found itself in a similar situation had Android not come along.

Re:Still Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41772303)

So in other words people should have been required to purchase a magazine in order to get a web browser? So what about those that didn't want to purchase a magazine? Microsoft had every right to bundle a browser with their operating system, just as long as they never prevented any one else from installing another browser. In order to have competition you need to have competitors and at the time why Netscape and Mosaic were the only two out there to compete with Internet Explorer. Then came Opera. None of them were viable competitors so they didn't create that monopoly. It wasn't until the Mozilla suite and Firefox that there was a viable competitor for Internet Explorer.

Re:Still Free (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#41772177)

because they do not own a monopoly on the pc market, and they don't abuse that monopoly to get another monopoly so as to vender lock the world. fortunately it backfired on M$ to a degree because not only were people vendor locked but version locked leading to xp and ie6 still having a huge portion of the market over 10 years after their release and making people realize that ms software is crappy. and that open source or at least standard compliant is the best.

Re:Still Free (1, Troll)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#41771859)

you've always been able to go online and download the browser you prefer through Windows

Only after starting Internet Explorer.

I see that you have been misinformed. Although I do not usually go to bat for Microsoft, I am impartial since I use & develop software for all modern OSs regularly. I once thought as you did, but have had my mind changed. Allow me to correct this misconception.

After installing MS Windows XP Pro. I dumped my compiler toolchain into the system and was about to compile Firefox and Chromium when I thought: Wait a minute. There's been a way to get other browsers installed here without using MSIE all along!

I simply hit Towels+R to launch the run dialog, then entered: FTP
To my (un)Amazement the terminal based FTP client that is installed by default was actually installed by default all along! Who Would(n't) have thought!?

From there it was a simple matter of connecting to the Mozilla FTP site: [mozilla.org]
open mozilla.org
cd pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/
ls
cd (into a version/platform/language/)
get "Firefox Setup 16.0b6.exe"

It was truly (un)remarkable that I could actually use MS's File Transfer Protocol client to Transfer Files without using Internet Explorer at all!

I felt quite silly for wrongly believing the oft spouted drivel about there not being any way to get another browser except through MSIE
I had used the FTP client for years, but I was blinded by my own MS hating nerd rage to the possibility that existed all along.
Why, those MS haters were just newbs who couldn't even use a simple FTP program.

Shortly after downloading the Firefox binaries I had the browser fully installed without having to clone a single Git repository!

IMO, Mozilla should make their releases folders a bit simpler to navigate, maybe an alias for firefox/latest or something. It's no wonder MS includes a browser by default. It's much easier to type "firefox" into a search box and click the mouse a few times to install it -- Mozilla's site even selects the OS, Platform, and Language automatically. At first I also thought it was super silly to integrate the web browser with the file browser, but if you think about it, if you've got a browsing engine capable of displaying FTP archives, why not re-use the code for the file browser too? Isn't that "The Unix Way!"(tm) ? I mean, Konqueror does this too, neh?

P.S. I just love that every key board has a Towel key -- X11 calls this the "super" key. Towels are super!
Douglas Adams would be proud.

Re:Still Free (1)

Christian Smith (3497) | about 2 years ago | (#41771505)

Just pointing out, you have the easy option of typing www.bing.com in your address bar if you don't like their results.

... and you've always been able to go online and download the browser you prefer through Windows, but that hasn't stopped the US or EU governing bodies from slapping Microsoft with nigh endless anti-trust suits.

Not everyone has that ability. Business had a really bad reputation for using default browsers, as centralized IT enforced draconian machine configurations, the result being that much business software and websites were dependent on Microsoft bugs and incompatibilities, tying people into Microsoft operating systems etc.

Google are popular because their products are good, and continuously improving. Microsoft OSes were popular because they had a monopoly position, and the OS stagnated as a result (Win9x and WinXP are examples of that.)

Do you really think the default browser (Explorer) on the defacto default OS (Windows) would default to google for search? People choose google for a reason.

Re:Still Free (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41771629)

Just pointing out, you have the easy option of typing www.bing.com in your address bar if you don't like their results.

... and you've always been able to go online and download the browser you prefer through Windows, but that hasn't stopped the US or EU governing bodies from slapping Microsoft with nigh endless anti-trust suits.

Not everyone has that ability. Business had a really bad reputation for using default browsers, as centralized IT enforced draconian machine configurations, the result being that much business software and websites were dependent on Microsoft bugs and incompatibilities, tying people into Microsoft operating systems etc.

But that's not Microsoft's doing, its the IT departments of these businesses, so why is MS getting all the blame?

Do you really think the default browser (Explorer) on the defacto default OS (Windows) would default to google for search? People choose google for a reason.

I fail to see what bearing that has on the topic at hand.

Re:Still Free (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 2 years ago | (#41772003)

Microsoft was not allowing resellers to add browsers like Netscape Navigator to PCs if they wanted reasonable prices. Want to add netscape? You don't get OEM prices, you pay full price.

They were not in violation for including IE, they were in violation for using their dominance to exclude others.

They would have been fine if they disallowed ANY modifications to the base install, but they didn't. It was fine to load all sorts of crapware, just not any serious IE competitor. It was targeted exclusion.

Re:Still Free (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#41772045)

which is why bing (microsoft, oracle, and apple - all in concert) wants to shut down google. The reality is that this is going to either invalidate antitrust altogether, or encourage more antitrust investigation from the EU and the US onto all three of them. They're literally creating evidence by pushing for this.

Re:Still Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41772391)

The main flaw with that arguement is you don't have to go to google to get to bing, you do however have to use ied to download another browser.

Re:Still Free (1)

iamhassi (659463) | about 2 years ago | (#41771439)

True, but with the android phones everything is tied so closely to google it's difficult to setup anything else. You must have a gmail account to login to an android phone, which then pulls your YouTube and google+ as well. I like google but I don't like handing them everything I have ever done online.

I noticed wonky google search results the other day when looking for iPhone apps every search kept coming up with android apps high in the results.

Re:Still Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771547)

and to use an iphone you need an AppleID. Its tied to the cloud, what did you expect.

As far as I know several phones (at least in Europe) are now offering you to use the android phone without a google account.

So yeah, you are wrong.

http://www.itworld.com/mobile-wireless/251508/can-android-phone-run-without-google

So wrong you're not even close (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771621)

Whut? You don't have to link your account to your device, and OEMs actually have to pay Google to install Google's apps on their devices. If you don't - you get phone without any Google services and have to replace them with your own. There were pre-Google Motorola AT&T phones that replaced Google Search with Bing and bunch of other apps with AT&T's own stuff, but still had Android Market.

Re:Still Free (2)

miltonw (892065) | about 2 years ago | (#41771657)

Obviously, you don't own an Android phone and have never owned an Android phone. Your criticisms are bogus. You don't have to have a gmail account to "login to" an Andoid phone. That's just a flat out lie. Unless you set up security, you just turn the phone on.

You actually want us to believe you were looking for iPhone apps on an Android phone? Yeah, sure you were.

If you are going to criticize Android, at least try it first.

Re:Still Free (0)

BitZtream (692029) | about 2 years ago | (#41772105)

Really? I just returned a Nexus 7 due to the still laggy UI and chrome issues. VERY FIRST THING IT ASKS FOR IS YOUR GOOGLE EMAIL ADDRESS AND PASSWORD. Yes, you can skip it ... IF you know that you can and you know which softkey to press. New users without technical knowledge are unlikely to do so.

Ignoring that, half the 'apps' on the home screen are Google. Its like one big massive Google Play advertisement. There were multiple icons for the same app like maps/navigation/local for instance. A gmail AND a mail app.

I'm not sure about other Android devices since they are all so inconsistent and fragmented so it may be just the Nexus 7 that is like that, but it is FAR worse than Windows 95 and IE.

The question is, have you looked at android devices through unbiased eyes? I would say clearly you haven't.

I've tried android multiple times. I WANT TO LIKE IT so I can get off iOS, but until it stops sucking I'm not going to stop criticizing it personally.

Re:Still Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41772219)

Really? I'm using Toshiba's AC100 smartbook and it didn't even have Youtube app (so it was the only use for Flash I found on Android), not to speak about Android Market or Gmail. Obviously, it didn't need my Google account.

Then again, you still _can_ skip Google's account step even on Google's own Nexus 7 and install all 3rd party apps, including alt markets. What're your options with iOS?

Re:Still Free (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#41772279)

hmm when ever i have used a google product android devices chrome etc one of the first things it asks is which search provider i would perfer and list several bing yahoo google ask duck duck go and others when i signed up for other services it works with my other email, if you don't want to hand them you online life you could simply use someone else i bet you will come back though, and not because of vender lock but becuase others services are inferior (with the exception of social) or simply don't exist. It is not a crime to be the the best.

Re:Still Free (1)

Cute and Cuddly (2646619) | about 2 years ago | (#41771805)

Absolutely, just like you have the option of believing that politicians are honest and work for the benefit of the electorate. Oh, by the way, you may want to become a devil worshiper!

Re:Still Free (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771955)

You don't have the easy option of building a cell phone without Motoroogle trying to extort you over FRAND-pledged patents.

Standard template (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771257)

There is a historical pattern where mediocre competitors all gang up on the best producer(in terms of customers picking a company's market share) by using anti trust legal action. The pattern always starts with mock trials where politicians, bureaucrats, judges and lawyers all get together and work out how they can best attack the leading company. While reading this article, the similarity was so strong to historic precedent that I had a strong feeling of deja vu.

That isn't to say that the courts are definitely going to attack google and prevent it from offering its services to voluntary users, but this is a common first step that leads up to it.

Sour Grapes (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 years ago | (#41771263)

Why *wouldn't* they prioritize their services and the services of their partners? It's NOT a public service agency, it's a private business, of which there are several significant competitors.

Re:Sour Grapes (4, Insightful)

NinjaTekNeeks (817385) | about 2 years ago | (#41771327)

Exactly. Search brings in no money, however related goods, services and ads do. So you give out the free search and encourage the user to utilize a related service related to the search to bring in the money, simple and effective business plan.

Also it's not like bing, yahoo and msn search don't do the exact same thing. Bing pimps its services just like google does, hotmail on the front page and a host of other offerings once you actually search.

Just Horseshit legal wrangling try to slow Google down.

Re:Sour Grapes (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771349)

That's the textbook definition of anti-trust behavior: Using your dominance in one market (search) to give yourself an unfair advantage in another market (travel agency, clog dancing, etc.)

Also, it's really fucking illegal.

Re:Sour Grapes (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#41771381)

I would hardly call Google putting their services closer to the top as unfair. Besides, what keeps Google from "paying" themselves to put their services in the sponsored links.

Re:Sour Grapes (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 2 years ago | (#41771735)

I would hardly call Google putting their services closer to the top as unfair.

What would you call it if you were the one pushed off the first page because Google rigged the game?

Re:Sour Grapes (2)

hondo77 (324058) | about 2 years ago | (#41771871)

Time to step up my marketing and not rely on Google search results so much.

Re:Sour Grapes (2)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#41771939)

The same way I would feel if I made a product and Walmart decided not to stock it because they wanted their own generic version of the product of on the shelf along side the other five competing products already on the shelf. There is limited space on the first page of any web search. Because they run and pay for the site, they have the right to decide the criteria by which that limited space is used on their search.

Re:Sour Grapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41772007)

I would hardly call you an export on anti-trust law.

Re:Sour Grapes (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771487)

Yeah but it's google, so the android fanboys are going to protect their queen until death. It's like rattling the bars on the monkey cage when you say google is doing something illegal, I've never seen so much blind faith in a company! Thank god for Facebook and apple, lets hope google doesn't buy them both out because what would be left? 1984

Re:Sour Grapes (5, Insightful)

miltonw (892065) | about 2 years ago | (#41771725)

Ah, but that is not the proven fact you pretend it is. There is no proof at all that Google tweaks its results to put its own services at the top of the list. You have assumed guilt that has never been established in order to "prove" that Google is guilty.

Even companies are assumed innocent until proven guilty. That's called "justice" and if you don't like it, tough.

Re:Sour Grapes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771789)

No the textbook definition of anti-trust involves using that dominance in a way which limits customer choice or results in customer paying more. Even if Google held 100% monopoly on search they wouldn't fall under the law because they don't charge for search. In the ad business they to charge for they are far from a monopoly. Anti-trust is about insuring CUSTOMERS get the best deal; to prove anti-trust you need to show that the practice caused customers to pay more that they would have. That is going to be a really hard sell for search where customers don't pay and still pretty tough for ads.

If you think of Google like broadcast TV it is a lot easier to see why this isn't anti-trust. The search results are the shows, the ads are the commercials, and the promos for other upcoming shows are Google other service ads that everyone is upset about. Customers watch the shows they like and endure the ads which come with them. The network uses some of the time during the show to try to attract more customers to other shows it has. The more people watching, the more the ads cost. It is sort of hard to see what the difference is. Google may be better at auctioning and maximizing that ad cost than TV station are and the shows it has are dynamically tailored on user request, but that's just better programming.

Re:Sour Grapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771353)

Google has a big machine, you cannot blame them for working the market.

Re:Sour Grapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771453)

Microsoft bundles IE right into Windows? EVIL!
Google bundles Maps, G+, etc right into Search? Good!

Microsoft tells PC manufacturers that if they want MS to keep giving them certain benefits, then they must only produce Windows PCs? EVIL!
Google tells phone manufacturers that if they want Google to keep giving them certain benefits, then they must not use "fragmenting" flavors of Android produced by other companies like Alibaba? Good!

Microsoft tells PC manufacturers that if they want MS to keep giving them certain benefits, then they must not include Netscape on their PCs? EVIL!
Google tells phone manufacturers that if they want Google to keep giving them certain benefits, then they must not include Skyhook's software on their phones? Good!

Microsoft releases a browser for free while Netscape charges for theirs? EVIL! - They're sucking the oxygen out of the market!
Google releases a phone OS for free while MS has to charge for theirs? Good!

Various competitors advocate for government action against Google? EVIL! - Litigation instead of innovation!
Realplayer, Netscape, Novell, et. all advocate for government action against MS? Good!

Other search engines are available for use by the public/advertisers? "A natural, legal monopoly - Competition is a click away!"
Linux, BSD, and other OSes are available for use by the public/PC manufacturers? "An illegal monopoly - PC manufacturers have no choice!"

I could go on.

Re:Sour Grapes (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 years ago | (#41771543)

And they are more than free to do so, unless they are determined to be a monopoly. Then the rules change.

Re:Sour Grapes (3, Informative)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41771653)

Because they are leveraging their monopoly to unfairly compete with similar services (as it clearly states in the summary).

Re:Sour Grapes (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 years ago | (#41771699)

Because they are leveraging their monopoly...

Which "monopoly" is that? Last time I checked there were several competitors including Bing which has market share that is not insignificant.

Re:Sour Grapes (2)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41771775)

Search+Adsense combination. Have you heard of anyone buying ads from bing? Very few do, it is pretty much insignificant.

Re:Sour Grapes (1)

msauve (701917) | about 2 years ago | (#41771837)

There's a large advertising market outside of Google. Saying they have a monopoly with Search+Adsense is like claiming GM has a monopoly on Chevrolets.

Re:Sour Grapes (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41771893)

Er, no, Ads support free search engine (they cannot exist without each other). It is a valid combination in my opinion. And GM does have a monopoly on Chevrolet (are you denying it by any chance :) ).

Re:Sour Grapes (1)

msauve (701917) | about 2 years ago | (#41772147)

Whoosh. GM does not have a monopoly, in the legal sense.

There are lots of different cars available, but if you want a Chevy, you have to go to GM, but that doesn't make them subject to antitrust action for having a monopoly.

Similarly, there are lots of different means of advertising (or so my TV and magazines tell me), but if you want your ads to show up along with Google search results, you have to advertise with Google. That doesn't make them a monopoly. Google doesn't even have a monopoly if you only limit it to web advertising.

Re:Sour Grapes (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41772207)

but if you want your ads to show up along with Google search results, you have to advertise with Google. That doesn't make them a monopoly. Google doesn't even have a monopoly if you only limit it to web advertising.

That is not what I meant by a monopoly. Google has pretty much cornered the search engine ad market. They are leveraging it to promote Google Finance, Maps, Flighs, so on.

Re:Sour Grapes (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 2 years ago | (#41772167)

My company does. We get FAR FAR better results from Bing than we do from Google because ... No one buys bing ads!

Its counter-intuitive but we really do far better for far less on Bing than on Google. Words are cheaper, that part is directly related to its popularity in relation to Google. What I can't explain is that we get a better conversion rate on Bing as well. We still haven't figured that one out exactly yet.

Re:Sour Grapes (1)

multiben (1916126) | about 2 years ago | (#41771655)

Agree, but they should be careful doing so. It is the quality of their search engine which made them what they are today. Rigging results could be a slippery slope for them. Today it may just be their services. Then their partners. Then their partners' partners. Then they start black-listing their partners' competitors etc. How much rigging will people put up with?

Re:Sour Grapes (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#41771985)

In other words, there is no reason for a lawsuit because the market would balance itself out since Google is not the only game in town.

Re:Sour Grapes (1)

miltonw (892065) | about 2 years ago | (#41771815)

There is absolutely no proof that Google does "prioritize their services and the services of their partners". Google says they don't and the anti-Google folks claim Google does (but with no proof).

Now, why is it assumed that what the anti-Google folks claim is true but what the Google folk claim is false? Why do that? Why not either assume innocence "until proven guilty" or, at least, recognize that there are opposing claims, neither of which is proven and either might be true. Why assume guilt when nothing has been proven?

no reason they wouldn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771881)

Why *wouldn't* they prioritize their services and the services of their partners?

No reason they shouldn't. Unless someone points a gun at them and tells them to do things differently or else.

And that is what is being considered. Antitrust is based on the idea that sometimes things will be more competitive is certain parties are less free. Welcome to the blurry and subjective edges of what "free market" means.

Google prioritizing its own services (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41771265)

The horror! Are we also going to demand that Ford dealerships be forced to sell Chevys and Chryslers?

Re:Google prioritizing its own services (1)

preaction (1526109) | about 2 years ago | (#41771495)

No, because GM and Chrysler have their own affiliated car dealerships. But if Ford Motor Company owned 90% of the car dealerships, it would create an unfair marketplace for car manufacturers, because Ford would be using their dominance in the car dealership industry to give themselves an unfair advantage in the car manufacturing industry.

Re:Google prioritizing its own services (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41771539)

Google 'owns' nothing. The field is wide open to anybody. Now, if they're using patents and copyrights to block competition unfairly, then you simply 'force' them to license those things at a reasonable price.

Product separation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771269)

They may have to separate search from maps, places, etc. Search will just have to be search and users will have to deliberately use a Google product with an extra click. No more advertising of Google products in search. No more Google products in search.

Hold on. (4, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41771289)

Are they guilty of anti-trust issues if the algorithms put their results first, not due to manipulation, but due to popularity?

Re:Hold on. (4, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41771367)

Are they guilty of anti-trust issues if the algorithms put their results first, not due to manipulation, but due to popularity?

Not exactly. The entire premise of Google originally was to put results at the top that had the most links to pages which matched keywords and phrases the user entered. But as people started gaming the system by adding links to their site in forums like Slashdot, Reddit, etc., spamming the web to inflate their index rating, Google had to start tweaking the algorithms and making manual changes to attempt to exclude such attempts. In the process of doing this, the manual ranking of certain websites based on other factors (like traffic rankings on Alexis, etc.), became very complicated. In an attempt to monetize their search results as well as provide a way for monied interests to promote their websites without spamming the indexes, they introduced sponsored links, then google ad words, etc. But the spam continues, and so Google finally opted to manually tweak rankings of many vendors, including their own, to put them on the first 10 results consistently.

So yes, they are manipulating the results, but then... every search engine has to thanks to spammers trying to inflate their ranking.

Irrelevant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771433)

Are they guilty of anti-trust issues if the algorithms put their results first, not due to manipulation, but due to popularity?

Irrelevant.

Google, being an obscenely rich corporation, will just use their political clout to ....get at most a slap on the wrist and fined a few weeks of their toilet paper budget.

Liv'in in the United States of Corporate America - USCA. ,p/>So, let us Slashdotters use our posting time for something we actually have a say in. Linux ....

Google corrupt? How about Microsoft? (4, Insightful)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 2 years ago | (#41771617)

Thomas Barnett is the "Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust" and also a former lawyer for Microsoft.

Thomas is pushing for antitrust legislation against Google, right now. Thomas has previously Thom rejected Google's claims against Microsoft.

Looks a little suspecious to me.

How to stop android (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 years ago | (#41771337)

Break up Google and make them a small player without the funding to continue development on 'side projects' such as android and there non-advertisement/search based cloud products.

More important of a story would be 'what will internet life be after google', as its not a matter of if, but when they get beat down by the Feds, pushed along by Google's competition.

Re:How to stop android (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#41771361)

Competition that time and time again has proven completely incapable of producing search products that the large majority of users, consumers and businesses want.

Re:How to stop android (1)

Albanach (527650) | about 2 years ago | (#41772117)

Competition that time and time again has proven completely incapable of producing search products that the large majority of users, consumers and businesses want.

Really? Bing is actually pretty nice. I expect their low use is more to do with Google being embedded in everyone's mind (mine included) and being Good Enough.

Sure there was a time Google were way out in front, but I honestly don't think that's the case these days. Now it's just familiar and comfortable and does the job.

Delist whiners (1)

J'raxis (248192) | about 2 years ago | (#41771347)

Maybe Google should just delist any companies complaining about Google unfairly prioritizing their own products over their competitors. It is their search engine, their advertising platform, and so on.

Re:Delist whiners (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#41771507)

That'd be pretty much a textbook example of anti-trust behavior. Are you trying to get them broken up by the DOJ?

Would it be "text book?" antitrust? (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 2 years ago | (#41771669)

Comcast pushes their own pay-per-view shows, and not the shows on other premium channels.

Thomas Barnett is the "Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust" and also a former lawyer for Microsoft. That looks a little suspecious to me.

Re:Delist whiners (1)

J'raxis (248192) | about 2 years ago | (#41771773)

From whence comes the requirement that Google put anybody in their search engines?

I'd love to see an anti-trust action against Google---initiated by the spammers and keyword stuffers that Google constantly delists. Maybe that'd show people how ludicrous it is to think Google "has" to include anyone in their search engines. Of course I'm sure there'd be howls of "but that's different!" and the hypocrisy would be lost on most everyone.

Re:Delist whiners (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#41772029)

You have it backwards. It's not about putting everybody in. It's about why they take them out.

If a site is already indexed and Google wants to delist it, they can't do so "just because". They have to apply the same standards to all sites. And their standard is to provide the most useful search results that they can find from the entire Internet. If someone is gaming the system to gain an enhanced rank, Google can delist the site and defend their decision by pointing out that the site failed to meet the standard of usefulness, but that it had errantly been marked as useful. No problem there. They're just applying their standard in a place where their algorithm failed to do so for them.

In contrast, if the CEO of a competing company is whining about Google and its policies but otherwise isn't doing anything that would result in their site being less useful, delisting that website would not be in accordance with the standard that was being applied elsewhere. As such, if Google were called on to defend their decision, they may have a hard time providing an account for their rationale in delisting the site. If they can satisfactorily demonstrate that they treated the site fairly and removed it for reasons that would have applied to any other site, then there would be no problem. But if they could not, then the move would rightly be seen as retaliatory and anti-competitive in nature.

Better Title :what Google's competitors would like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771363)

This is nothing except a wish expressed by Google's competitors.

Reinforce their dominance (2)

phorm (591458) | about 2 years ago | (#41771369)

They systematically reinforce their dominance in search and search advertising

A.K.A. They make their product easier to use and better, and that's bad because MS and Apple don't like it!

more lawsuits (1)

icencold (2758417) | about 2 years ago | (#41771399)

I smell rotten apple behind that...

I don't get it (3, Insightful)

Andrio (2580551) | about 2 years ago | (#41771401)

How come no one goes after Apple? They downright refuse anything that competes with their equivalent app. How is that not antitrust?

I'm not trying to troll or start a flame war. I really am just curious.

Re:I don't get it (1)

sribe (304414) | about 2 years ago | (#41771475)

How come no one goes after Apple? They downright refuse anything that competes with their equivalent app. How is that not antitrust?

They don't have a monopoly. Apple sells less than 50% of the smart phones worldwide. Google gets, what, 90% or more of web searches?

Re:I don't get it (2)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#41771531)

They only have around a 66% market share [searchenginewatch.com] .

Re:I don't get it (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#41771601)

Interesting. It's worth noting that that's a U.S.-specific number, and that globally they are indeed around 90% (Bing is at about 4.5%), but I suppose the U.S. numbers may be the only ones that matter in this particular discussion?

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771823)

Google doesn't have a monopoly, either.

Re:I don't get it (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#41772037)

They don't have a monopoly. Apple sells less than 50% of the smart phones worldwide. Google gets, what, 90% or more of web searches?

Apple sells 100% of the iPhone aps in their App store, and prevents users from installing any other app stores. If that's not anti-competitive "monopoly" of a market I don't know what is. Don't like the iPhone, don't buy it. I could say the same about using Google's search engine. Seriously, your logic is just plain fucked.

It costs nothing to get listed on Bing, Duck Duck Go, Altavista, etc... So, even if Google does 90% of the search market they're not preventing folks from using alternatives at all. It's not like I have to choose between which search engine will list my website, and if I pick Bing, then Google doesn't list me. Ugh, it's the fucking information age people. Get with the times or get left behind. You can't monopolize Search. The Web Exists. That would be like saying 4chan has a monopoly on offensive .GIFs because they proliferate 90% of them... You have a brain. Why aren't you using it?!

Because MS is okay with Apple (2)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 2 years ago | (#41771637)

Thomas Barnett is the "Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust" and also a former lawyer for Microsoft.

Thomas is pushing for antitrust legislation against Google, right now. Thomas has previously Thom rejected Google's claims against Microsoft.

Looks a little suspecious to me.

I think it's fairly clear that Microsoft is behind this. This has Microsoft's M.O. all over it. Remember MS execs going to work for Acacia just before Acacia sued Redhat?

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771689)

Apple doesn't have a monopoly. Because Apple has a completely vertically integrated business model, they would have to actually have a monopoly in order for antitrust laws to apply. The most common way to be charged under antitrust laws is to pressure business partners to discriminate against other brands. Apple's only partners are suppliers, who pretty much universally already supply every other computer/electronics firm, including Apple's biggest competitors (like Samsung).

Basically, Apple positioned themselves in such a way that antitrust laws apply more narrowly to them - mostly because they have prevented themselves from engaging in truly anticompetitive behavior.

The example you cite of App Store "competition with built-in features" doesn't count until Apple has a true monopoly on applications or a subcategory like mobile applications. While they have the most success, it is a far cry from a monopoly. Apple also seems to have loosened up that standard quite a bit. Otherwise, they wouldn't be allowing other navigation and mapping apps in the app store. Or camera apps, etc. etc. Apple may be guilty of enforcing that policy in a very discriminatory manner against their biggest competitive threats. But after all - it's a vertical market, and no monopoly. Competitors can go to Android, Windows Phone, etc.

The most important thing here - antitrust laws do not try to prevent success, or even monopoly. They try to prevent or remedy specific behaviors that are deemed "unfairly anticompetitive", which usually only occurs under specific circumstances. Contrast it to Microsoft, whose business model and competitive strategies with Windows / Office basically set them up for perfect antitrust targeting. And it was truly unfair (things like prohibiting retailers from even selling competing products on threat of not letting them sell Microsoft).

Apple hasn't risen to that level, at least not that we are yet aware. They haven't prohibited any partner from working with others, whether retail, or selling in a competing app store (Android). And having an exclusive app-store for iOS is not a monopoly because iOS does not have a monopoly.

If iOS gains a monopoly market-share like Windows did - that'd be a different story. They might have to allow competing apps and even competing app stores. But for that to happen, Google and Microsoft and their hardware partners would basically have to stop even trying to deliver competing devices. But again, the only way Microsoft was able to achieve that with Windows was with anti-competitive reseller contracts. Apple has stayed far away from that, and is unlikely to achieve a monopoly.

Google has a de-facto monopoly in online advertising. Thus the anti-competitive behavior prohibitions apply. In Google's case, it seems that they probably gained their de-facto monopoly fairly. But exercising fairness after gaining a monopoly is a much higher standard.

Permission (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 2 years ago | (#41771427)

Doesn't Google now own Yelp? Why would they have to ask for permission? Here is Yelps' Privacy policy [yelp.com] . It looks ok to me.

Or does Microsoft want Google to ask permission from the business owners actually being reviewed? Allowing only positive reviews would make the entire point of having reviews completely useless if you ask me, but then, may be that's Microsoft's aim, to make the web more difficult to search and more difficult to filter for everyone.

Re:Permission (1)

PTBarnum (233319) | about 2 years ago | (#41771535)

Google does not own Yelp. Beyond that, I have no idea what agreements, if any, are in place between them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yelp,_Inc [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Permission (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#41771753)

Google doesn't own Yelp, and the issue is one of content ownership. Yelp worked hard to develop a site where users can come and share reviews. It wants people to come to its site so that it can make money on them. By incorporating data directly from Yelp without permission in such a way that the user is given exactly what they're looking for and has no need to go to Yelp itself, Google is stealing those page views and thus stealing Yelp's profits (quick note: though they used to do this, they may have stopped the practice; I haven't checked in awhile).

Contrast that with what Apple did when it decided to incorporate Yelp into some of its products: they licensed access to the information from Yelp, meaning that Yelp is getting paid for the information they've worked to collect. Yelp is also prominently branded in the places where its information is being used, ample links are provided, and only a small bit of the information is used, that way users are encouraged to seek out more on the Yelp site. This is one area where Apple got it right.

It's one thing to aggregate data like stock prices or flight times and incorporate them into site, but it's something else entirely to incorporate copyrighted written reviews of places into your site without permission.

Re:Permission (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41772283)

... because you don't believe in fair use?

Re:Permission (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41772387)

Time to lose the notion of fair use. If it's someone else's content and you use it, you must pay them the fee that they specify.

seriously? (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#41771437)

If this is a bad thing, why is it that when I go to one big grocery store, they sell their own made stuff for cheaper? Then when I go to another big grocery store, they sell their own stuff for cheaper. And oddly enough, the stores don't sell their own lines in the other stores. But the big name foods have no problem selling in both stores, even though their stuff is usually sold for more money.

Maybe I'm missing something, but it doesn't seem like any anti-trust here, but normal business practice. You are free to make your own search engine and your own ad service. In fact, other people have done that. In fact, it doesn't make sense that google wouldn't push their services first, since that is what every company does to begin with.

Don't think this will ever happen.

Re:seriously? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 2 years ago | (#41771835)

If this is a bad thing, why is it that when I go to one big grocery store, they sell their own made stuff for cheaper?

Your argument might have some teeth if it didn't overlook the fact that the re-branded Stop & Shop bread is made by the same factory that makes the re-branded Big Y bread. They are both selling the same product made by the same factory, just with different packaging.

Not the reason I use Google (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 2 years ago | (#41771451)

I use it because it has a clean, austere look and it loads fast. Something that no competitor has bothered with yet, as far as I can tell.

Re:Not the reason I use Google (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 2 years ago | (#41772215)

search.yahoo.com has been around for many years now...

Does CBS have to advertise NBC shows? (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 2 years ago | (#41771523)

What is wrong with Google advertising their own products, or services?

Re:Does CBS have to advertise NBC shows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771833)

Or more precisely does CBS have to stop showing promos for other shows on their own network.

It's theirs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41771567)

It's their services. They can do whatever that want with it.

so senator tom (2)

nimbius (983462) | about 2 years ago | (#41771627)

basically snored through lycos and yahoo while they presided over the supremacy of search, totally disregarded the fact that microsofts bing engine routinely omits and enhances results in its favor, and quietly turned a blind eye to the fact that the Apple App store wont allow competing services it already provides. Yet google, nearly 10 years after achieving search dominance, is an unacceptable demon to the marketplace that must be stopped at all cost. makes total sense if you're a pork sucking kickback crook looking to be auctioned to the highest bidder.

my advice is dont. Google would have to do very little arm twisting to convince your "coalition" to essentially stop what theyre doing. they can blacklist any advertiser they like, for any reason. im actually rather surprised thomas barnett's lawfirm still shows up in the search results.

Make up your mind FTC (4, Insightful)

Cyberllama (113628) | about 2 years ago | (#41771633)

So wait, which is it? Google is unfairly prioritizing their own services, or unfairly indexing others? Yelp is their competitor. They have their own competing service in Google Places.

You can't have it both ways. You can't say on the one hand that they're "stealing" when they index other people's content and you can't argue that they're being anti-competitive if they don't have enough of other people's content, or other people's content not highly enough ranked. And, bottom line, Google has flatly denied that they do this. They have been explicit in stating that they do not tinker with their algorithm to make their services show up higher than others--so unless you have some evidence they're lying, then what's your case going to be?

I did have one criticism for Google . . . (1)

mmell (832646) | about 2 years ago | (#41771661)

but y'know, all my contacts, most of my photos and music, a bunch of my scripts and data . . . all live out there in Google's hands.

(Google): "Nice digital snapshot collection you got there . . . be a shame if someone was to wave an electromagnet over your JPEG's there, buddy."

Re:I did have one criticism for Google . . . (2)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#41772019)

If you want a copy, back it up.

Not about Search Results (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 2 years ago | (#41771851)

What these companies are complaining about are not the search results. The search results are the blocks of links and text with 10 entries to a page. Above the search results Google sometimes displays a Web 2.0 data. It will show a Google maps if it thinks your looking for directions. It will show Google shopping if it thinks your shopping. It will show flight times if it thinks your searching for flights. This contextual data Google pulls from its own services. Google is limited by copyright law what it can do with Expedia and Yelps data. They always show this at the top. It never is shown below a competotors service.

The other point of view (1)

SmaryJerry (2759091) | about 2 years ago | (#41772313)

Google's foundation is their search, but it isn't a search company it is an advertising company. They give away search functionality to the general public but what they SELL are ads. You are not a customer of Google because you use their search. The customers of Google are all of the corporations and small business that want to advertise. And Google dominates that market, even more severly than you think. Sure they have 66% or whatever number of the search market but they have a much higher percentage of the online advertising market. Their ad service is spread out throughout millions and maybe billions of websites with trillions of page views. If someone wants to make a profit selling advertising, they have absolutely no way to compete with the prices google offers unless they already are a giant. Google will sell 1 billion views of an advertisement for your company so cheaply it is impossible to even find a competitor. Lets say your website gets 1 million views a day, well the advertising money you will make is practically NOTHING, thanks to google's cheap prices. I'm not saying Google is a monopoly legally speaking but I don't think we should just look at their search feature to make the determination.
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