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Google Experiences EU Antitrust Friction Over Doubleclick 62

Posted by Zonk
from the it's-tough-trying-to-take-over-the-world dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Here in the US, the Google purchase of Doubleclick is old news. Despite a few hiccups, the news of April and May seems well in the past. In the European Union, though, the discussion begins anew again as Google seeks permission from EU antitrust regulators. From the article: 'The European Commission said it had set a review deadline of October 26, when it could approve the deal, give a two-week extension or open an in-depth, four-month investigation ... The Commission has already sent questionnaires asking competitors and customers what they think about the deal. Google has already filed with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and with the Australian competition regulator.'"
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Google Experiences EU Antitrust Friction Over Doubleclick

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  • Is there any reason why they would say anything other than "this will hurt us competitively"? It only makes business sense to prevent Google from acquiring whenever you can. This seems equivalent to the FCC asking the telecoms how they feel about Google buying/leasing some airwaves.
  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @06:42AM (#20717985)
    I could set-up my own ad sense / double click service right now at cheaper rates then Google offers and there is nothing they could do to stop me.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yes you could.

      But you would have problems getting advertisers since you have a small viewer range.
      And you would have problems getting sites to use your system, since you don't payout much yet, lacking advertisers.
      • by LingNoi (1066278)
        That's the same as any start-up..
        • The counter argument is if it's so easy, then why would Google trouble themselves to purchase Double-click? Especially since Google already has their own existing advertising programme... so all they need to do is, extend it to take their competitors customers???

          So I guess Google's intent with purchasing Double-click is actually to purchase Double-clicks customers.

          That said, I find it hard to find a good argument against. It *is* comparatively easy to setup a similar business, so if Google subsequently
    • by onion2k (203094) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @07:12AM (#20718087) Homepage
      Noone is saying it's anti-competitive. They're saying it might be anti-competitive. There's less choice for the consumer. Prior to Google buying DoubleClick someone wanting to purchase adverts had a few choices between 3 similarly sized networks (Google, DoubleClick and Yahoo) plus a handful of smaller players. Since the merger there's one behemoth and noone even close to the same sort of size, and consequently noone in a position to offer the same sort of service. If Google wanted to they could reduce their prices too (economies of scale coming into effect). They have effectively bought themselves into the position of a monopoly. All the EU are doing is checking if that's really the case or if the market is still open for consumers to shop around.
      • by dkf (304284)

        All the EU are doing is checking if that's really the case or if the market is still open for consumers to shop around.

        In this case you need to distinguish between "consumers" (i.e. you or me) and "customers" (i.e. people wishing to advertise online). And the question (that the EU will be asking) is whether people (in the EU) wanting to advertise or host advertising online will get screwed over by this deal.

        No idea what the outcome of this investigation will be though. One question I'd have would be whether the online market be considered to be distinct from the real-world market? And would scale effects online prevent oth

        • All the EU are doing is checking if that's really the case or if the market is still open for consumers to shop around.

          In this case you need to distinguish between "consumers" (i.e. you or me) and "customers" (i.e. people wishing to advertise online).

          No, the term "consumers" still applies here. Google produces advertising opportunities; advertisers consume them. That makes the advertisers consumers in this context.

    • I could set up my own OS right now and sell it cheaper then Google offers and there is nothing they could do to stop me. Now of course an OS is slightly harder to build then an ad sense service, however the existence of Linux and Apple hasn't stopped the EU going after Microsoft.
  • One hopes such spotlights (or prospects thereof) will help deter Google from the temptations of the dark side... I'm sure those who remember using Google when it first came out simply to find better image galleries would like to still believe in the "we're not evil" tagline ;D.
  • misleading headline (Score:5, Interesting)

    by User 956 (568564) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @06:53AM (#20718025) Homepage
    The European Commission said it had set a review deadline of October 26, when it could approve the deal, give a two-week extension or open an in-depth, four-month investigation

    It's not friction unless the EU doesn't approve the deal on October 26. Until then, this is normal process. I would question who this "anonymous reader" who submitted the misleading headline is.
    • Yeah, i agree. I looked hard to find any 'friction' that already happened.
      And the anonymous reader is most likely a M$ shill.
    • by ms1234 (211056)
      Someone at Microsoft who likes chairs perhaps? :)
    • Hey, this headline isn't exciting at all! I mean, why do you think I come to Slashdot in the first place, if not for the sensationalism?? Well, to be sure, the headline spuriously adds this thing about "friction" just because the EU says, "Okay, we'll check out this Google purchase of Doubleclick and will tell you next month whether there might be problems," but "experiences friction" just doesn't have the same punchy feel to it.

      After all, when a police bring in the apparent sender of a bomb threat and re
  • I wonder if the EU would be so vigilant if Google was started and owned by a pair of Europeans?
    • If only there were some way to look up past decisions, such as a web page which might return a list of results, when presented with a query.

      Yes - the EU fines lots of companies regardless of where they're based. Just because the DOJ has no bollocks, doesn't mean everyone else has to roll over for big companies.

    • by jopsen (885607)
      I recall two big Scandinavian dairies merge... The Danish competition authorizes spend a long time before allowing the deal... There's many examples, many are handled by the different national competition authorities...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JanneM (7445)

      I wonder if the EU would be so vigilant if Google was started and owned by a pair of Europeans?
      Actually, yes. Most antitrust action in the EU has been concerning European companies, not outside ones. And if anything, the commission tends to be harsher towards those than others (since it violates the idea of free trade within the EU).
    • by mce (509)

      Oh yes! Look up the Volvo-Scania case, for instance. And that's just one example of many.

      I wonder why Americans always become so defensive when an US firm is has to deal with non-US policy makers. No, the rest of the world is not out to get you.

    • by Ajehals (947354) <a.halsall@pirateparty.org.uk> on Sunday September 23, 2007 @10:20AM (#20718883) Homepage Journal
      That would explain why the EU only ever investigates foreign companies...

      Oh wait, what's that? they investigate Foreign and EU companies.. Oh
      The US investigates US and foreign companies for this kind of behaviour too?
      Oh and the commission is to ensure that *customers* don't get a poor deal? its not about promoting one company over another?

      My god, how can we live with this horrible intrusion into the free market, which only effects all companies?

      Wait a minute - how come you didn't complain when VW or SAS or Maersk Air, or Hoechst AG, or Peaugot were fined? See what a 2 minute web search can do? That's from a single page, all in one year, take a look at the EU website and see how many fines have been issued against EU and foreign companies. Whilst you are at it, take a look at how many companies have been investigated, because at the end of the day, all that is happening is that a deal that Google has put together that clearly *does* change the on-line advertising market, the EU wants to make sure that that change will not be detrimental to consumers. Hardly a protectionist and anti-American attack (OR should I say that it is not commercial-terrorism?). The EU *is* in part there to encourage and grow EU business, it is also there to protect its own internal market (see the tariffs and penalties imposed against foreign nations, in the same way as they are imposed on the EU), and if it didn't exist Google would be facing investigations not by one commission, but by the individual bodies of each of the current member states (I'm sure some are investigating anyway).

      I'm sick and tired of US bashing in the EU and EU bashing from the US. Much of what is discussed in the media in terms of economics is nothing short of propaganda (Although I must say that the US is better at propaganda, or maybe European's are better at seeing through it), see what we have had recently with china, or the reaction in the UK to the US sub prime credit collapse.

      If people could put aside their national bias for a day, we might be able to make this free-market globalisation thing work, but that is not likely, instead we will take taxpayers money and use it to prop up ailing businesses (as if they have a *right* to survive) or use it to prevent others from entering our markets. That's the US and Europe (and much of the rest of the world). Either practice capitalism, or scrap it and work out a way of organising an economy that benefits the citizens of the world rather than a few mega-corporations.

      Bit of a rant, but come on, this is so far a non story, for the EU it is the sensible thing to do, it s not anti-American, it is ensuring that the consumer (thats me and you) get a good deal.
    • I wonder if the EU would be so vigilant if Google was started and owned by a pair of Europeans?
      Yes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by oliderid (710055)
      Yes, Few years ago, the EU didn't approve a merger between two big French industrial industries.
      Schneider and Legrand. Schneider lost billions in this affair (If I remember well, they had to resell shares of something). But the EU court voted in favor of Schneider and the EU had to compensate a part of this loss.

      http://www.arcweb.com/txtlstvw.aspx?LstID=2a4b621b-e581-471b-9f78-98c4f01409c6 [arcweb.com]

      There are others like France Telecom forced to resell a subsidiary in Belgium. Merger in Austria forbidden, and plenty o
  • Does that mean Google has to ask every country whether or not if it approves the buyout... or just the pain in the arse ones?
    • by tkinnun0 (756022)
      Surely not every country. Only the ones it wants to do business in.
      • Also keep in mind that Google has a European HQ in Dublin. In a limited but real sense, within Europe Google *is* a European company. Of course they'll be subject to EU regulations and laws.
  • What's the fuss about anyway?
    So Google buy Double-Click. What for?
    Isn't a piece of spyware anyway? At least Google is using it that way. I can't really see a difference between a company forcing targetted results onto unsuspecting netters.

    Just my rant. Sorry.

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