19 December 2010

Google's Woes Deepen

Google seems to have upset a few folks along the way.

In the past I have been quite vociferous that I think Google’s behavior has stepped outside of the normal realm of commercial norms. I have found it difficult to sound anything but a whiner on the subject. The logic of Google’s practices give me a strong case of queasiness.

Well it seems that the simplistic approach that the US law takes to competition may work for Google there but not the Europeans most major media outlets are reporting the details. Google has now clearly got themselves in the same set of sights that cost Microsoft a few years ago and cost it indeed it did. Try several billion dollars. So now the European Commission has taken over the investigation into Google on at least two specific topics. It has assumed control from the German anti competitive agency. It is likely to also take on some that have been undertaken by the Brits. But its not quite what you think. I would have thought the privacy issues would have been the early thing that the Commission would have jumped on. Nope – its competition. And here too its very interesting.

1. Mapping – the EC has charged that Microsoft’s use of its mapping and giving it away has hurt different players in the market. As a result the company has harmed those who charge for mapping products. The logic is not unlike that of anti-dumping laws.
2. The Association of Newspapers in Germany has argued that Google is not just a search engine but a content provider in its own right. As such it is competing unfairly with newspapers and further manipulating the rankings accordingly.

The penalties for these offenses are pretty stiff as they are charged on a per instance which could be interpreted as every time someone served up a Google Map it committed the offense.

This is going to last a long time. So Google Acolytes – get used to the scrutiny. Its going to be tough


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