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Google Businesses EU The Courts

Google Slapped With $2.7 Billion By EU For Skewing Searches (bloomberg.com) 362

Google suffered a major regulatory blow on Tuesday after European antitrust officials fined the search giant 2.4 billion euros, or $2.7 billion, for unfairly favoring some of its own search services over those of rivals. The European Commission concluded that the search giant abused its near-monopoly in online search to "give illegal advantage" to its own Shopping service. Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition commissioner, said Google "denied other companies the chance to compete" and left consumers without "genuine choice." The hefty fine marks the latest chapter in a lengthy standoff between Europe and Google, which also faces two separate charges under the region's competition rules related to Android, its popular mobile software, and to some of its advertising products. From a report: Google has 90 days to "stop its illegal conduct" and give equal treatment to rival price-comparison services, according to a binding order from the European Commission on Tuesday. It's up to Google to choose how it does this and it must tell the EU within 60 days of its plans. Failure to comply brings a risk of fines of up to 5 percent of its daily revenue. [...] "I expect the Commission now to swiftly conclude the other two ongoing investigations against Google," Markus Ferber, a member of the European Parliament from Germany. "Unfortunately, the Google case also illustrates that competition cases tend to drag on for far too long before they are eventually resolved. In a fast-moving digital economy this means often enough that market abuse actually pays off and the abuser succeeds in eliminating the competition." Google has been pushing its own comparison shopping service since 2008, systematically giving it prominent placement when people search for an item, the EU said. Rival comparison sites usually only appear on page four of search results, effectively denying them a massive audience as the first page attracts 95 percent of all clicks. In a blog post, Google said the EU has "underestimated" the value Google's services brings to the table. "We believe the European Commission's online shopping decision underestimates the value of those kinds of fast and easy connections. While some comparison shopping sites naturally want Google to show them more prominently, our data show that people usually prefer links that take them directly to the products they want, not to websites where they have to repeat their searches. We think our current shopping results are useful and are a much-improved version of the text-only ads we showed a decade ago. Showing ads that include pictures, ratings, and prices benefits us, our advertisers, and most of all, our users. And we show them only when your feedback tells us they are relevant. Thousands of European merchants use these ads to compete with larger companies like Amazon and eBay. [...] Given the evidence, we respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission's decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case," wrote Kent Walker, SVP and General Counsel at Google.
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Google Slapped With $2.7 Billion By EU For Skewing Searches

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  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @06:40AM (#54697125) Journal

    I'm not sure how this one works. Google can find information, in this case about products. Searching for a product would normally just bring up Amazon, and skip the price comparison altogether. Is Google just not allowed to supply this service?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem is it wasn't returning Amazon specifically. It was returning Google Shopping, despite the fact nobody likes or uses Google Shopping, which is unfair to the other shopping comparison sites that exist.

      • by tsqr ( 808554 )

        Go to google.com.
        Click the 'Shopping' tab.
        Type in product to search for.
        See many different products from multiple vendors.

        So, what's the problem?

        Click on the little circled 'i' beside "Merchant links are sponsored".
        Read this text:

        Products and offers that match your query. Google is compensated by these merchants. Payment is one of several factors used to rank these results. These results are based on your current search terms and may be based your visits to other websites.

        The EU court apparently believe

        • The EU court apparently believes that merchants who don't pay Google to display their products in Shopping should have their products displayed along with the products offered by merchants who do pay Google.

          Where are you reading that ? The problem is that there are other shopping comparison sites that compete with Google Shopping, and these sites are demoted in the search results, not because they are bad sites, but only because they compete with Google. Read TFA:

          Google has demoted rival comparison shopping services in its search results: rival comparison shopping services appear in Google's search results on the basis of Google's generic search algorithms. Google has included a number of criteria in these algorithms, as a result of which rival comparison shopping services are demoted. Evidence shows that even the most highly ranked rival service appears on average only on page four of Google's search results, and others appear even further down. Google's own comparison shopping service is not subject to Google's generic search algorithms, including such demotions.

        • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

          Click the 'Shopping' tab.

          Whoa. Holy shit. I think I might be misunderstanding, so I just want someone to sanity-check me or test my reading comprehension. Surely I have made a hilariously stupid mistake in basic reading comprehension, and if there is one thing I trust the Internet for, it's for telling me how stupendously wrong I am about something:

          My understanding was that this EU fine was about generic search. It's not about if a user does more than enter the name of a product; it's not about if a clicks

          • My understanding was that this EU fine was about generic search.

            You were correct. It is about generic search demoting competing shopping sites in the results. It has nothing to do with the Shopping tab.

    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      I'm not sure how this one works. Google can find information, in this case about products. Searching for a product would normally just bring up Amazon, and skip the price comparison altogether. Is Google just not allowed to supply this service?

      My guess is that it's about the "shopping" bar with pictures and prices. I think that they would have to either remove this or add a couple of links which are to price comparrison sites rather than directly to products.

      I would think that the "shopping" tab would be OK as anyone would expect that this would lead to Google's service, just as they would expect searches revealing a maps tab top go to google maps and not bing maps, open streetmap, or others.

      • I would think that the "shopping" tab would be OK as anyone would expect that this would lead to Google's service, just as they would expect searches revealing a maps tab top go to google maps and not bing maps, open streetmap, or others.

        Google has a 'maps' tab at the top of their UI, which is perfectly fine.

        However, when you search for "maps" in google search (here in EU on a local server), a link for Bing maps only shows up on result page 11, and openstreetmap or yahoo maps don't show up at all.

        • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @07:33AM (#54697297) Journal

          That's probably because Google users use Google maps. In the US, Google just shows you a map if you search for something mappable, like a hotel, a particular store, or an address. Clicking it takes you to the Google Maps result.

          Imagine if you searched for a nearby pharmacy, then had to look up their hours, then go to Google Maps to search for such pharmacies near you. Instead, if I type "CVS Pharmacy Hours" into Google, it gives me that immediately, as well as a map showing the nearest one--which takes me to Google maps. I can make decisions about new information while gathering information, and those decisions are largely supported by the next steps being right in front of me.

          If I wanted to use Bing, I'd go to Bing.

          • If I wanted to use Bing, I'd go to Bing.

            But if I want to use google search to find out about other map providers, I'd like to see them show up in a fair way, and not have google pretend it's the only map provider there is.

            • by dwillden ( 521345 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @08:10AM (#54697437) Homepage
              You use Google you get Google maps. You use Bing you get Bing maps, you use Apple you get Apple maps. You use Yahoo... that's right you get Yahoo maps. Why should they link to someone else's map products? Nobody else who has their own mapping sources provides links to a competitor's maps.

              Now if you Google maps, you of course get Google at the top of their list, but low and behold you get mapquest and then Yahoo and then apple. They don't pretend they are the only provider. But if you do a search for something, they are going to use their resources and provide the map info with their maps.
              • But if you do a search for something, they are going to use their resources and provide the map info with their maps.

                I'm not talking about searching for the name of a business near me. In that case, it would be perfectly acceptable for them to send me a link to google maps.

                I'm talking about searching for the word "maps".

                • by rhazz ( 2853871 )
                  Searching for "maps":

                  google.ca
                  First: google
                  Second: mapquest
                  Third: wikipedia

                  bing.com
                  First: google
                  Second: bing
                  Third: mapquest

                  yahoo.ca
                  First: google
                  Second: bing
                  Third: mapquest

                  So... what's the problem really? That bing isn't popular enough on google results?
                  • That bing isn't popular enough on google results?

                    Right. If the other search providers put bing maps in the top-3, why does google put it on page 11 ? And not just bing maps, mapquest and openstreetmap are completely absent from the search results.

                    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                      by Anonymous Coward

                      The other search providers mentioned are both Bing.

                    • by nasch ( 598556 )

                      MapQuest is on page one for me, Bing maps on page two. I didn't see openstreetmap on the first three pages.

                • I'm talking about searching for the word "maps".

                  I usually use DDG, so I opened up a page with Google - on a Chromebook even, and typed in "maps".

                  Top hit was Google maps.

                  Second hit was Android apps maps, so still Google.

                  Third was Mapquest

                  Fourth was Yahoo Maps

                  Fifth was iOS maps

                  Then an iTunes store for Google maps

                  Then maps.com for actual hardcopy maps

                  I don't get it - what's the problem? Are you demanding that Google put everyone else above their own hits?

                  • I opened up a page with Google - on a Chromebook even, and typed in "maps".

                    I assume you are using a US server.

                    what's the problem? Are you demanding that Google put everyone else above their own hits?

                    The problem is that here in EU, the local google search does not return mapquest, yahoo, bing, iOS, or openstreetmaps at all, or only after 10+ pages of other search results. It's perfectly fine if Google is on top because it's the most popular. It's not fine if Google takes extra effort to hide all the competition.

            • by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @09:13AM (#54697793)

              But if I want to use google search to find out about other map providers, I'd like to see them show up in a fair way, and not have google pretend it's the only map provider there is.

              I just did such a search, and Wikipedia's article about Unfolding Maps was the very first link, followed by the Wikipedia article on map providers, followed by many non-Google links.

              The European antritrust officials are STILL on some powerful Crack. The reason people use Google over (Bing Is Not Google) and Yahoo! (or more appropriate, "Oh No!") and all the rest is because Google sucks the least, by a galactic margin. But these dummies are saying, "you have outclassed your competitors by too much, and have satisfied your users too many times. We are compelling you to make your services suck more so you will sink down to their level."

              But Microsoft got off with little more than a stern warning ($300M was trivial to Microsoft), and a requirement to publish documentation, for decades of actual severe damage caused by its actual, as opposed to Google's fictitious, monopoly abuse.

              And now, they're going after Google for Android?! What the fuck?! Android isn't the problem. Not by a long shot. If the European Commission wants to open up Mobile competition, then require all manufacturers of Mobile components to publish their specifications, and disallow patents on Mobile devices and software. The problem will solve itself. But instead, they are wasting their time on Google.

              Good job, you dumb fucks.

              • We are compelling you to make your services suck more so you will sink down to their level.

                How is providing an honest search result equal to "make your services suck more" ?

              • There's nothing novel about this. Companies can have effective monopolies, but they can't use them to push their own products in other areas. The EU is saying that Google dominates Internet search, and is using that to push its own products more than competitor's products. That, if true, is enough reason to go after Google.

                It doesn't matter how stuck people are on Google, only that they use it predominantly. For the purpose of anticompetitive acts, it doesn't matter if people can switch to something

            • But if I want to use google search to find out about other map providers, I'd like to see them show up in a fair way, and not have google pretend it's the only map provider there is.

              I hope that is a hypothetical situation with a really gullible person living under a rock who hasn't used a computer before.

            • But if I want to use google search to find out about other map providers, I'd like to see them show up in a fair way, and not have google pretend it's the only map provider there is.

              Then do a Google search for "map providers" or "internet mapping tools". But if you search for "nearest CVS to Times Square" on Google, it's hard to see how Google is at fault for providing you exactly the information you searched for.

            • So do a search for online map providers [google.com]. There's no pretense that Google Maps is the only one in those results.
          • Imagine if you searched for a nearby pharmacy, then had to look up their hours,

            Imagine looking up "pharmacy" in a convenient compilation of local businesses to find their telephone number...we could call this a "telephone book". Then calling them to find out their hours. ;)

            Joking aside, it is a bit astounding that the EC doesn't seem to quite get the value of aggregated information. Certainly, it would be nice for other price-comparison sites to be better represented, but I imagine there are a few technical details being missed. For example, if I search for "pantene shampoo", I get th

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@w[ ]d3.net ['orl' in gap]> on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @10:08AM (#54698123) Homepage Journal

              Google displays shopping results at the top of relevant searches, or on the shopping tab. With other types of search they show other sites in the mix, e.g. video search shows YouTube and Vimeo and DailyMotion and others. The issue that the EU has is that Google's shopping results only show Google Shopping links, and not links to other price comparison sites.

              This might actually improve Google Shopping, which is kind of crap. For some reason it always gives me prices in USD and shops in the US, even though I'm on the .co.uk domain. It's sorting and filtering systems are terrible. It rarely finds the best price either. It doesn't work nearly as well as Google search, which does include results from other services.

        • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

          I would think that the "shopping" tab would be OK as anyone would expect that this would lead to Google's service, just as they would expect searches revealing a maps tab top go to google maps and not bing maps, open streetmap, or others.

          Google has a 'maps' tab at the top of their UI, which is perfectly fine.

          However, when you search for "maps" in google search (here in EU on a local server), a link for Bing maps only shows up on result page 11, and openstreetmap or yahoo maps don't show up at all.

          Funny in the UK on the first page I get:

          Google Maps
          OS (Ordnance Survey) online
          www.streetmap.co.uk
          The AA maps, routes, traffic
          https://www.viamichelin.co.uk/... [viamichelin.co.uk]
          Map - Wikipedia

          • by Chrisq ( 894406 )
            I've just noticed "bing maps" is not a result but is on the first page under "Searches related to maps"
          • Google search results are highly dependent on what Google thinks they know about you. For me, also in the UK, the results are:
            1. Google Maps (preview) - hilariously, this one has a robots.txt and so Google isn't allowing Google to spider it.
            2. Google Maps
            3. Google Maps (Android app)
            4. MapQuest (apparently they're still around)
            5. iOS Maps (Apple)
            6. Google Maps (iOS App)
            7. Yahoo Maps (I didn't know they were a thing)
            8. Maps.com
            9. maps.org (multidisciplinary association for psychadelic studies)

            Google isn't my default search

            • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

              Are you sure that you're using Google? Your results look very much like the ones I get from DuckDuckGo.

              Interesting. Google is my default search engine and I am certainly sing it via the https://www.google.co.uk/ [google.co.uk] URL

          • In the US I get Google Maps,
            Android Google maps app
            Official MapQuest
            Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies: MAPS
            iOS - Maps - Apple
            Google Maps in the iTunes app store
            Yahoo maps
            Maps.com
            Bing Maps
    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      Google will display ads as part of the results, either to its own services, or to companies who bought them. On some platforms (mobile), there'll be cases where no result aren't from either.

  • Excellent news. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by popoutman ( 189497 )
    If you break the law, you have to face the consequences. Thankfully the legal system here does appear to much more fair than across the pond, and those that unlawfully abuse their power in the market will get slapped down.
    This judgement makes me happy.
    (as an aside, it does also bring revenue in from an entity that appears to abuse the Dutch Sandwich tax process..)
    • by Tukz ( 664339 )

      But which law is broken? If they don't have monopoly, they aren't abusing a monopoly.

      I'm kind of confused by the summery, it states Google has "near-monopoly". They are being punished for "nearly" having monopoly?
      Either they have monopoly or they don't.

      If they don't have a monopoly, they aren't doing anything wrong.

      • Have you tried reading the article ? It explains it right here:

        Today's Decision concludes that Google is dominant in general internet search markets throughout the European Economic Area (EEA), i.e. in all 31 EEA countries. It found Google to have been dominant in general internet search markets in all EEA countries since 2008, except in the Czech Republic where the Decision has established dominance since 2011. This assessment is based on the fact that Google's search engine has held very high market shares in all EEA countries, exceeding 90% in most

        • Re:Excellent news. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dwillden ( 521345 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @08:25AM (#54697503) Homepage
          Dominance is still not a monopoly. They achieved dominance because they are the fastest and most comprehensive. That's how they took over the search engine market in the first place. Having the best product usually get's you into market dominance. That still does not equal a monopoly.

          This is the EU crying everyone should be equal, even when they are not.
          • Re:Excellent news. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @08:42AM (#54697587)

            They achieved dominance because they are the fastest and most comprehensive. That's how they took over the search engine market in the first place. Having the best product usually get's you into market dominance

            That's great, and the EU is not having a problem with that at all.

            The problem is that they abuse their dominant search engine to try take over other markets (in this particular case, shopping), which is arguably not the best shopping product, but still got ranked higher in the search results.

            • Re:Excellent news. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Freischutz ( 4776131 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @12:06PM (#54698859)

              They achieved dominance because they are the fastest and most comprehensive. That's how they took over the search engine market in the first place. Having the best product usually get's you into market dominance

              That's great, and the EU is not having a problem with that at all.

              The problem is that they abuse their dominant search engine to try take over other markets (in this particular case, shopping), which is arguably not the best shopping product, but still got ranked higher in the search results.

              In other words Google is basically doing what Microsoft did and that caused Slashdot nerds to go nuts and write long angry tirades where Microsoft was spelled with a $ sign. Interestingly now that the boot is on the other foot and Google is the anti competitive monopolist those same people are defending the monopolist with tooth and claw. To me swapping one monopoly for another is nothing more than moving from the fire into the frying pan.

          • The law doesn't require you to have a monopoly to be guilty of abusing a monopoly position. It requires you to be dominant.

          • Dominance is still not a monopoly

            No it's not. A monopoly status is determined by power. Unfortunately dominance naturally provide power. So even though the internet is a theoretically perfect market place where everyone can start a search engine, and everyone is free to search anywhere, the reality is far more nuanced.

            When phrases like "Did you Google that using Bing?" make perfect sense you can get an idea of just how incredibly dominant Google's position is and why it can be justifiably determined as a monopoly.

          • by mjwx ( 966435 )

            Dominance is still not a monopoly. They achieved dominance because they are the fastest and most comprehensive. That's how they took over the search engine market in the first place. Having the best product usually get's you into market dominance. That still does not equal a monopoly.

            This is the EU crying everyone should be equal, even when they are not.

            Monopolies are not illegal. Google is a monopoly and there's no arguing about that.

            What Google has done wrong here is using their monopoly position to gain an unfair advantage, in this case to give favourable results to their paying customer's adverts.

            The EU are not "crying" that everyone should be equal. You should be really ashamed of yourself for making up something that stupid. What the EU is saying is that everyone needs to start on a level playing field.

          • They achieved dominance because they are the fastest and most comprehensive. That's how they took over the search engine market in the first place.

            I certainly don't think that's the case. Even if I granted you that at one point that's why they achieved dominance, they maintain dominance due to inertia and using market dominating power.

      • The French term is "abus de position dominante", in which case it translates into anything youd do where you're trying to kill off competition by using a large market share. Not the same as a monopoly.
        I believe it is the same laws that got MS fined regarding the IE situation a few years ago. I remember /. being more supportive of that particular decision back then...

      • Re:Excellent news. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Your.Master ( 1088569 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @07:09AM (#54697201)

        But which law is broken? If they don't have monopoly, they aren't abusing a monopoly.

        The law is against abusing a dominant market position. Arguing whether a monopoly has to be absolutely total is irrelevant.

        Here's your citation: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal... [europa.eu]

        My emphasis in the following:

        Article 102

        (ex Article 82 TEC)

        Any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position within the internal market or in a substantial part of it shall be prohibited as incompatible with the internal market in so far as it may affect trade between Member States.

        Such abuse may, in particular, consist in:

        (a) directly or indirectly imposing unfair purchase or selling prices or other unfair trading conditions;

        (b) limiting production, markets or technical development to the prejudice of consumers;

        (c) applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage;

        (d) making the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.

        You are not punished for a monopoly or nearly a monopoly; neither of those things is illegal. They are punished for abusing a dominant market position: being a near-monopoly is one way to have a dominant market position.

        • by Tukz ( 664339 )

          I just got confused that the summery didn't mention the abuse of dominant market position and instead mentioned the irrelevant "near-monopoly".

      • EU law != US law.

      • Either they have monopoly or they don't.

        No. Despite the "mono" root, the legal definition is more nuanced than being the only supplier.

        In the UK, 25% of the market is the baseline.

    • Why would it make you happy?
      What Google did wasn't a blatant abuse of power, they just crossed the fuzzy line that was EU law. Laws are rarely black and white. Hence why we need judges, to help see both sides and try to make a fare judgement.

      With a high fine like that and google can't talk it down. They may just decide that it is too expensive to do business in Europe, and close its doors there. Laying off European workers, and leaving Europeans to either deal with Bing or Alibaba as a search engine.

    • Considering that the fine would be 5% of revenue, they may decide it's more profitable to pay the fine and just leave things as they are.
  • This fine is moronic on so many levels I'm just cringing in disbelief:

    • Google search engine is not a public service - they don't owe anything to anyone, they are free to show whichever results they want to and deem necessary.
    • Google is not the only search engine in the world - there's Bing, Yahoo and others. How on earth can they abuse their "monopolistic" position if there's none?
    • Google is not selling you their search engine - it's provided basically free of charge (sans ads you may or may not click).
    • they don't owe anything to anyone, they are free to show whichever results they want to and deem necessary.

      Not according to the law.

      How on earth can they abuse their "monopolistic" position if there's none?

      They have over 90% market share. That's enough according to the law.

      Google is not selling you their search engine

      The complaint is that they are using their free search to promote their other businesses over competing businesses.

    • since when has a dominant position been dependent in the US or Europe on being a public service? Google do owe something to their customers (which is NOT YOU), it is the people they sell advertising too, you are merely their product and irrelevant to the discussion. Those buying advertising have a right not to be abused by someone that has a near monopoly on the market to the point where they have no choice to use them if they want effective advertising.
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @07:33AM (#54697299)

    Google "denied other companies the chance to compete" and left consumers without "genuine choice."

    We should start right there. Who forces anyone to use Google in the first place?

    • Who forces anyone to use Google in the first place?

      Nobody, but that's not relevant according to the law, which only looks at dominance (over 90% market share), not force.

      • Nobody, but that's not relevant according to the law, which only looks at dominance (over 90% market share), not force.

        So, what's the threshold? 85%? 80%? 40%? Do we know?

        • There's no fixed threshold. The dominance is determined by the court, based on multiple criteria. A 40% market share may be considered dominant, if competitors are all much smaller, the barrier to entry is high, or if the company is an unavoidable trading partner.

          • by aliquis ( 678370 )

            There's no fixed threshold. The dominance is determined by the court, based on multiple criteria. A 40% market share may be considered dominant, if competitors are all much smaller, the barrier to entry is high, or if the company is an unavoidable trading partner.

            I feel like there's non-competitive environment for how all nations in the EU should be run and that it feel like the EU Parliament and Commission have a complete monopoly over how it should be ruled.

            We need to break it up and make it easier for smaller people like me to influence it.

    • by squash_me_quickly ( 663285 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @08:44AM (#54697593)
      Who "forces anyone to use Google"??? Well, it's the "other consumers". If all the "other consumers" use Google, then essentially the businesses are "forced" to use Google... and in turn "you and I" are "forced" to use Google

      One could argue that "it's not Googles fault that they make a better product than the consumer", and that is true.

      The commission if fining Google because:
      - Consumers(stupidly/naively) believe that Google is showing the results that are most relevant to the customer
      - Google is NOT doing that

      If you search for "cheap shoes", the searcher/customer has a right to expect that they get a fair representation of the best(most relevant) sites that sell cheap shoes.

      Google does NOT do this...
      - They will sneakily put links to their own store, with out any indication that it is essentially an advert for their own product/store.
    • Who forces anyone to use Google in the first place?

      What's the alternative? Bing? hahahah

      No seriously, that is kind of my point. When there is a primary search engine and alternatives are actively mocked, users of alternatives are actively mocked, and alternatives despite a massive amount of funding and resources behind them have poor market share, then you are in a defacto monopoly.

      Monopoly status is not dependent on someone's ability to easily switch to an alternative, but rather the actual possibility that they would if the alternatives exist. Quite frank

    • by Freischutz ( 4776131 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @09:35AM (#54697945)

      Google "denied other companies the chance to compete" and left consumers without "genuine choice."

      We should start right there. Who forces anyone to use Google in the first place?

      What forces me to use Google is the fact that they have the best searches which is to a large extent due to the fact that they have something like 78% of the global market share which in turn is a large part of the reason they are able to deliver such good searches in the first place although Google would like you to believe that it's exclusively due to the fact that their search algorithm is light years more advanced than that those of the competition. Mind you I usually try to use other search engines first, mainly because I'm a compulsive windmill jouster who loathes monopolies or near monopolies in any form, but I all to often end up going back to Google much to my annoyance because I think Google is in desperate need of some truly fierce competition (mind you Bing has been gradually getting better over the years it's just been slooooow going). What makes or breaks a search engine is not giving good results on the 20-30% of searches on very popular and therefore extremely common searches like 'big titties' it's the ability to deliver good results on the 70-80% of searches on very specific/esoteric topics like: 'error LNK2001 unresolved symbol', 'install a performance air filter on a Moto Guzzi bike', 'the silver economy in dark age Europe', 'carrot beer' or 'vegan spinach ice cream' (and yes, the last two really are a thing, just not terribly popular). Its a kind of like the chicken or the egg causality dilemma, the more traffic an engine gets the more accurate the search results get and the quicker it is able to deliver them but if your engine is only getting 3% of the traffic, Bing is getting 20% and Google is hogging the rest you're in for an up hill struggle with your search engine startup unless you get lucky and come up with a quantum leap in search technology like Google did and contrary to what you may believe those don't grow on trees. In the mean time monopolies or near monopolies are never a good thing even if the monopolist is Google.

      • What forces me to use Google is the fact that they have the best searches which is to a large extent due to the fact that they have something like 78% of the global market share which in turn is a large part of the reason they are able to deliver such good searches in the first place although Google would like you to believe that it's exclusively due to the fact that their search algorithm is light years more advanced than that those of the competition.

        It's easily forgotten that Google's dominance developed because their algorithms in fact were light years more advanced than those of the competition. At that time we also had Hotbot/Inktomi and Altavista. We stopped using them specifically because their search results lacked relevance, while Google's kept getting better.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The default is a powerful motivator. Most phones have Google as the default search engine. Most people seem to have Google as their default desktop search engine due to it being the default in Chrome and Firefox or their company.

      That's why the EU didn't use the word "force", as you did. They are saying that being the default gives Google something of a monopoly, as seen by the proportion of traffic they get compared to other search engines and price comparison sites. The EU expects companies in a monopoly p

    • by c ( 8461 )

      Who forces anyone to use Google in the first place?

      Their competitors. I mean, have you tried Bing?

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      The short answer? Google. That is the reason they got fined.

      The longer answer is that they decided to do business in Europe and thus have to follow the rules in Europe. Just like e.g. can sell beer to 16 year olds in Belgium, but not to 20 year olds in the US.

      You can agree or disagree with either or both laws, but that does not change anything.

    • Who forces anyone to use Google in the first place?

      Consumers are forcing retailers to use Google.

      Your confusion is stemming from the fact that you're thinking of this backwards: you're approaching it from the consumer side, rather than the retailer side. Consumers have free choice in regards to what search engine they use, but the fact that 90% of them have chosen Google means that stores have no choice. They are forced to advertise through Google if they want to stay in business. European law dictates that companies cannot use their dominance in one market

  • by GeekWithAKnife ( 2717871 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @07:42AM (#54697321)

    Once upon a time a European country making a fuss about anything was yawn worthy for a large, multinational corporation.

    Here's a $2.7 billion fine - that time of regulatory commissions having no teeth is over.

    I know I know...when the UK leaves the EU it can have it's fat politicians bribed for peanuts in comparison and bent over by such a large company also because it will be desperate for tax revenue...but for now let's enjoy the regulatory muscle provided by "unelected officials".
  • I live in Finland which is part of EU. I haven't even heard about this Google Shopping before. Is this feature shown only in some countries?

    I tried disabling ad blocker and still couldn't get anything like that to appear. I even googled for "Google Shopping" and while the main page of it loads, it doesn't show any products when I try to click some of the categories or when I try to search products.

    • Here is how the google shopping idea works.

      Say you are in the mood to buy a new chair. You go and google 'chair price' or something like that. Several options show up. As it turns out, google favors companies that sell chairs and pay for google advertising. They may not be the most famous company, the best reviewed company, etc. but they will get top billing.

      When confronted with a long list, human nature is such that you choose something near the top. We are all lazy and who wants to read that much unn
    • When I visited Costa Rica, I didn't see shopping in my search results, either. But, I do see it in USA. I just checked, and when I connect my VPN to a Costa Rica, I don't get shopping in my search results, but when I connect it to USA, I do. Perhaps a VPN would help you see these differences also.
  • The least expensive option for them is to keep this in court for the next 30 years, and I expect that's just what they'll do.
  • Hm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @11:35AM (#54698613) Journal

    One might almost infer that the EU is anti business, or ...anti non-EU business, or...(if one really has the tinfoil hat) anti-US-business.

    Trump's a buffoon for wanting to raise protectionist barriers, but the EU deep-pocket-fining US businesses mainly for being successful (particularly in fields where EU businesses are struggling or don't exist) is *just* as stupid.

    Hey, I guess it's one way to raise the funds to bail out the monetary union, once the German taxpayers ever get tired of footing the bill for the whole damned thing, right?

    Hint: turns out you can't simply bolt the Drachma (or the Lira, or the Peseta) to the Deutsche Mark and get ... a Deutsche Mark. Funny, that.

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