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Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin  (Source: a beautiful gift/WordPress)
Odds of Google being split up are very slim

Google is an American company that started as a simple search engine and grew to a massive corporation with tentacles reaching all across the technology arena into other unrelated fields. The size of the company and money generated by Google and its advertising programs today make it a clear target for watchdog groups that maintain Google is a monopoly.

One watchdog group called Consumer Watchdog has asked the DOJ this week to break Google into smaller companies to prevent a monopoly situation along the lines of Microsoft. John M. Simpson from Consumer Watchdog is the person who made the request to the DOJ and he argues that the DOJ's actions against Google's attempts at buying other advertising firms and scanning books isn't enough to ensure the search giant doesn't turn into a monopoly.

Simpson wrote in a letter to the DOJ, "Google exerts monopoly power over Internet searches, controlling 70 percent of the U.S. market. For most Americans – indeed, for most people in the world – Google is the gateway to the Internet. How it tweaks its proprietary search algorithms can ensure a business's success or doom it to failure."

The fact that search rankings on Google can make or break a company is no theory. Each time Google algorithms change retailers around the world moan over last rankings. Once a retailer is off the first page of results the chances of searchers clicking becomes much smaller.

EWeek rightfully points out that the major flaw with Simpson's argument is that Google doesn't force anyone to use its services; it just happens to be the most popular service around. Google also lets users leave anytime they want and take their data with them when they go. Another factor that hurts Simpson's idea of a split up Google is the fact the DOJ didn’t split up Microsoft when asked by advocates, and Microsoft has been convicted of anti-competitive practices in the past. Google has so far never been formally accused of anti-competitive practices, though some major companies like AT&T have accused Google of being anti-competitive.

Simpson also alleges that Google purposefully tweaks its algorithms to keep other businesses down and serve its own interests. Google has long maintained that algorithm changes are nothing more than an attempt to give users more accurate and useful search results.

Simpson outlined his plans for breaking Google up in the letter sent to the DOJ, "Gmail and its new social networking service, Buzz, could be spun off as a separate entity as could YouTube, a Google acquisition that we believe should have been denied at the time of merger. Enterprise applications could be another separate business."

A Google spokesperson told 
eWeek, "We totally understand that with size and success comes scrutiny. Although given their track record, even if we broke Google in half tomorrow, Consumer Watchdog would probably insist that we split halves into quarters."

Google is a huge company, but if the company was broken up as suggested by Simpson many of the services simply don’t generate the revenue needed to continue operating. Google's massively successful advertising program underwrites most of the free services like Gmail and Buzz.



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Why?
By robertisaar on 4/22/2010 10:16:34 AM , Rating: 5
I guess all of the free and generally ahead of the game stuff they offer poses a threat to consumers everywhere.

OH NOES!?11!1




RE: Why?
By Anoxanmore on 4/22/2010 10:35:29 AM , Rating: 4
Yes, but when google's cloud computing becomes skynet.. and the first nukes are fired...

Disclaimer: For humor only


RE: Why?
By Chocobollz on 4/27/2010 5:28:15 AM , Rating: 2
It won't. People will store too much p0rn on it and makes it overloaded and the AI go nuts. Oh noess?! :p


RE: Why?
By Spivonious on 4/22/10, Rating: 0
RE: Why?
By superPC on 4/22/10, Rating: -1
RE: Why?
By Bateluer on 4/22/2010 11:08:45 AM , Rating: 5
Wait . . . you want Google to make everyone's search data public? That's a major privacy issue that you'll face an uphill battle on.

I don't see this going anywhere, the DOJ didn't break up Microsoft and there was a much stronger case for a monopoly there. And the last time they broke up a major company, Ma Bell, it sat idly by while all the smaller firms bought each other up and re-assembled into the original company again.


RE: Why?
By superPC on 4/22/10, Rating: -1
RE: Why?
By robert5c on 4/22/2010 12:21:20 PM , Rating: 3
your argument of government vs private company is silly, google doesn't use your tax dollars, why "should" they do anything we ask

and what is with all this talk of should, why "should" any private company do anything that would cost them without gain,

giving up their algorithms will just allow competitors to copy them, good luck with that. the average consumer has no knowledge therefor use of interpreting the algorithm or stored data, however there is a lot of use for negative or criminal activity, so i rather they keep all there stuff private.

back to the topic of should, you should find another search company if google doesn't fit your specifications.


RE: Why?
By ninjaquick on 4/23/2010 2:55:10 AM , Rating: 2
Firstly, it only tracks systems with an attached google account, and you can clear all search data from the account settings page. No information is actually permanently stored. You can also opt to not have any data storage.
Once you leave the google site all they do not have access to any information, the only thing they know is what you search and what you click. That is all.
This is a matter of you using an open to the public yet privately owned and managed service. You have no obligation to use Google at all, ever. A monopoly is at its root: single seller. Google is one of many advertising firms and search engines.
People need to remember that just because the company is big doesn't mean it is a monopoly. A monopoly requires it to be the one and only seller of a service or product. An example true monopoly is Apple, for reasons obvious.
Also, google is not anti competitive. Search yahoo!. Search for products and look at the page results. You can use gmail with pretty much any software out there and even forward/recieve mail from other accounts.
Basically, it is bull to call google a monopoly. They are a big business but they by no means are anything bad. Google is one of the most important things that has ever happened to the internet, and has massive global market penetration but all that considered it doesn't pull in more than 7B (compare to ExxonMobile at 20B or Wal-Mart at 13B).
As far as search shaping, Google is actually pretty transparent. There are ways to engineer (on an independent non google related way) a page to be first, and they also use popularity and relevance algorithms for general searches.
And no search algorithms shouldnt be public. That would be like saying microsoft should hand out the source code for windows or banks give out their security methodology white papers.

This is basically a response to everyone that thinks google is in the wrong. If you don't like them making money then go and make a search engine that does the job better.


RE: Why?
By Spivonious on 4/22/2010 11:27:54 AM , Rating: 3
That's why I block cookies from Google. They do track your search terms in order to target ads at you.

Making their IP and data public though...business and privacy issues prevent that from ever happening. Maybe putting an opt-out for data collection would be possible.


RE: Why?
By superPC on 4/22/2010 11:41:32 AM , Rating: 3
their targeted ads is their bottom line. they would never stop collecting data. the only way is if someone forced them to. it's time we forced them to. sure everyone can argue if we don't like how they do things we should use other search engine, but targeted ads is the bottom line for other search engine too. all search engine should give option to search our ip so we can delete any data they save on us. it should be the law.


RE: Why?
By theapparition on 4/22/2010 12:58:38 PM , Rating: 5
Remember,
The key litimus test for US Monolpoly law is that the monopolistic status exerted undue influence that hurt consumers .

Right now, with the litany of free consumer services they provide, I doubt they would pass the criterea for a monopoly.


RE: Why?
By eddieroolz on 4/22/2010 5:47:18 PM , Rating: 2
While I do agree that search rankings are kind of flawed, I disagree that Google is a monopoly. As long as Microsoft stays in the fields Google has presence in, there will not be a monopoly.


Let Google take over the world already!
By xler8r on 4/22/2010 11:06:00 AM , Rating: 2
Stop hatin and let 'em!




RE: Let Google take over the world already!
By FaceMaster on 4/22/2010 11:18:35 AM , Rating: 5
I have been using Google for over 10 years. How much money have I given them? None. They're a magical company. I don't even care that they know everything there is to know about me. Other companies only improve if there is competition, Google doesn't seem to stop improving even if it's miles ahead of the competition. Google, take me now.


By Anoxanmore on 4/22/2010 12:05:02 PM , Rating: 3
holds out hand

Come with me if you want to live...


RE: Let Google take over the world already!
By aegisofrime on 4/22/2010 1:23:19 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed on all counts! How many companies out there have us consumers over a barrel with our trousers at our ankles and give us crap service to boot?

How many companies give you awesome service that's apparently free? I can only think of Google.


By FaceMaster on 4/22/2010 8:08:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How many companies out there have us consumers over a barrel with our trousers at our ankles


If only an attractive, friendly company like Google would offer such a service. I'm getting tired of irape.


Google's knowledge about you is fearsome
By thesafetyisoff on 4/22/2010 5:41:00 PM , Rating: 2
For more and more of us, Google knows everything about us. How easy would it be for Google to destroy your life through identity fraud or data manipulation? Or even just disclosure of private information?

Google knows your browsing history (Web History)
Google reads your email. (Gmail)
Google knows your friends, family, and business contacts (Contacts).
Google knows your credit card numbers, and what you buy online. (Google shopping)
Google knows what you look like (Picasa tagging), and can find you in other people's photos (Picasa facial recognition). It therefore knows who your friends are and what do together.
Google knows your voice. (Google voice)
Google knows your address and what your house looks like. (Maps Street View)
Google tells the world about you (Google search).
Google can hear your phone calls, read your text messages, and track your location in realtime (Android phone with GPS).
Google knows your favorite passwords. It knows your security questions.

And whatever Google doesn't know about you directly, it can probably get by data mining information about you that is uploaded by other people and businesses.

The Consitution protects us from the federal government. But who will protect you if Google goes after you?




By lightfoot on 4/22/2010 7:08:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The Consitution protects us from the federal government. But who will protect you if Google goes after you?

Your logic is horribly flawed. Just because you are protected from abuses of the federal government does not mean that the federal government is not still required to protect you.

The Constitution protects us from the federal government. But who will protect you if China goes after you?

Simply: the government. That is its purpose. It doesn't matter if the threat is from China or Google. The government represents the people and is tasked with defending the people.


By kmmatney on 4/22/2010 7:15:26 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a good movie plot.


By Lazarus Dark on 4/22/2010 7:38:54 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but all government is evil. That's WHY they made the Constitution.

Google is love.


By Reclaimer77 on 4/22/2010 7:50:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How easy would it be for Google to destroy your life through identity fraud or data manipulation? Or even just disclosure of private information?


Because if they did they would be sued, fined, federally prosecuted etc etc ?? They are a business, and businesses don't get as big as Google is by doing this crap that you listed. Think about it.


By callmeroy on 4/23/2010 10:37:47 AM , Rating: 2
DUN DUN DUN....(theme music)....

Seriously dude...paranoid much?

First , waaaaaaay before Google was a house hold name, companies ALREADY had very "powerful" information about us....have you heard of credit bureaus by chance?

They know your salary, your home address, your SSN, they know anything you've ever bought on credit, they know any loan you have ever made, they know your employment history (this is more recent but in the last 10 years companies are more frequently using credit screening as a pre-req to hiring, when this is done its recorded on your credit file)

AND

Guess what its shared with companies all across the nation and the world (sometimes).....

Its recording in many databases in many firms.

And all this has been going on since before Google even existed.

Want more paranoia w/o google involved......I give you mailing lists.

There are companies that PROFIT from buying and selling our information....that's all they do...sell people's demographics -- names, addresses, phone numbers, often credit ratings, etc. to other companies.

In fact its going on right NOW as you read this very post! :)

Also, for your example -- what if people don't use Google?

How do they know my email -- if I don't use gmail?

How do they know my friends and family if I don't use their contacts?

etc.

Paranoia is no way to live...but if I was a paranoid type...I'd worry far more about what other companies do with my info than Google.


The thing is...
By PitViper007 on 4/22/2010 11:24:01 AM , Rating: 2
It isn't illegal to have a monopoly in the U.S. What IS illegal is to use that monopoly to edge out competitors in other markets. I suppose you may be able to say that Google, in having their services available to the masses for free, could be doing that, but ALL their consumer based services are free. Or, to be more precise, their consumer based services are AD SPONSORED. No matter how you look at it though, Google would have to do a lot more in the "bad column" to warrant a DOJ breakup, especially if you take the precedent of Microsoft.




RE: The thing is...
By theapparition on 4/22/2010 1:03:31 PM , Rating: 3
Very close, but not entirely correct. It is illegal for the monopolistic status to hurt consumers , not competitors. An argument can be made that lack of competition can hurt consumers, but a direct correlation would have to be established.

US Anti-Monopoly laws are to protect citizens, not other companies; a tenant that the EU decides to ignore.


RE: The thing is...
By PitViper007 on 4/23/2010 2:51:10 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you for the clarification. You are correct. When a competitor brings an anti-trust complaint up, they do it in the name of the consumers. Though, in cases such as the current Intel/AMD one, the results could end up benefiting the competitors.


RE: The thing is...
By AssBall on 4/22/2010 3:40:35 PM , Rating: 2
People just can't stand it when a company competes successfully, I guess. Sounds more like whining than a real initiative.


Oh, them
By YashBudini on 4/22/2010 11:02:13 AM , Rating: 2
It's the guys who claim they can't find competent American programmers and hire H1Bs instead. What a crock. Just a fancy legal way to underpay people the ones they control.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCbFEgFajGU




RE: Oh, them
By grognard on 4/22/2010 1:10:03 PM , Rating: 1
Do you actually work in IT, or just a heckler? I've been around long enough to know that we definitely need the H1B's. I actually interview people for programming jobs, and American programmers just ain't there when you go through the stack.


RE: Oh, them
By leuNam on 4/22/2010 5:40:32 PM , Rating: 2
I agree exactlY!


Meh
By seraphim1982 on 4/22/2010 10:56:20 AM , Rating: 1
"Google exerts monopoly power over Internet searches, controlling 70 percent of the U.S. market."

People choose to use google over yahoo and others, not just because of accuracy of searches, but feature set given for free.

This turd is probably doing this complaint because Microsoft made his wallet grow.




RE: Meh
By The0ne on 4/22/10, Rating: -1
RE: Meh
By Hieyeck on 4/22/2010 12:43:02 PM , Rating: 2
10 years and going strong. Frankly, I'm not opposed to paying a small premium for better services, but if Google is providing the best available for FREE, I will gladly submit to their will.

Signed,
Google Drone #192460124


RE: Meh
By nafhan on 4/22/2010 11:17:27 AM , Rating: 2
The key phrase in the groups assertion is "exerts monopoly power". Google may have an effective monopoly, but I don't think they are exerting monopoly power. At this point, they are ahead through innovation and providing a better "product" NOT by anti-competitively and artificially limiting what their competitors can do.
I wonder if this "consumer watchdog" has any backing from MS, Apple, etc?


By rdhood on 4/22/2010 11:45:32 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think people remember what computing was like in the 1980's. servers were a quarter of a million dollars and operating systems were tens of thousands of dollars... and you got NOTHING with them but the base OS.

Hate on Microsoft all you like, but what they were offering at the $100 "monopoly" price of Windows XP would have cost over $10,000 dollars just a decade earlier.

If someone can do a better cloud than Google, then the world will abandon Google like they abandoned expensive proprietary operating systems for Windows.... like they abandoned proprietary computers and servers for Intel/AMD PC's.

I just finished doing a floor plan and attic finish out of my house in Google SketchUp. There is NOTHING FREE out on the net that even comes close to the free sketchup version. That is typical of Google.

Even Google, though, is vulnerable. Have a look at facebook. Facebook could easily start doing "Facebook mail" and "Facebook search", and there would be millions of people who would never leave the social networking sites to do search or mail in Google.

Microsoft missed the boat on search engines and cloud apps to preserve their cash cows. Google missed the boat on social networking to preserve theirs. It is human nature to try to preserve the status quo that made you rich, and to continue to milk your cash cow while failing to notice or invest in the new technology that will replace it. Search engines, free email and cloud computing were ALL overlooked by Microsoft due to their protectionist greed. If history is our teacher, Google will fail to see the technology that will bring about their own demise.




By Bateluer on 4/22/2010 1:20:32 PM , Rating: 2
Google does have a social networking program, Buzz. Needs to grow though. And as Facebook becomes more and more invasive, I can see people migrating to other social networks that provide what they want without being as invasive.


Everyone above is missing the point
By xImtc on 4/22/2010 12:35:00 PM , Rating: 2
Google's monopoly has little to do with users. It is exactly that you never pay anything to Google that there is a problem. You are not Google's customer. Therefor, this action is not to protect you. The argument that Google is a monopoly comes solely from the market power it exerts over its customers, which are advertisers. Google commands something like >90% of all Internet advertising profits. They use the money they get from those profits to develop new technologies which they give away for free. That sounds like a good thing, and in a lot of ways it really is, but there is a hazard there. Remember that Microsoft's Windows monopoly was never directly challenged. It has been a wonderful boon to computing, in many ways, that Windows is everywhere (not that it isn't a source of serious problems in many others). Microsoft was found to be guilty of predatory practices by extending its Windows monopoly to Web browsers. That is, they made it difficult to compete in a growing space (the fledgling Web) because they gave away a product for free along with Windows: namely IE. They did this with Windows Media player, as well. What that did -- successfully -- is stop Netscape's dream of becoming a "platform" for more than a decade. There would have been other, much earlier Googles long before now had Microsoft not stopped Netscape square in its tracks. But because Netscape could no longer monetize its product, it withered. And Microsoft's core product, Office, thrived and made them money -- money they never made on the Internet (have they made a dime on IE?).

Now, imagine you are a mapping company, or an email company, or an online Office competitor company, and you want to develop your product. You have two ways of making money. First, you can charge users; but wait, no you can't because Google's offer, even if no better than yours, is free, and you can't beat free. The other choice, you can put ads on your Web page; but wait, you can't get much money from your adds, either, because Google is the ad king! Maybe you should use Adsense (heh)!?!

And therein lies the rub. It is nice to get free things as a user. But they are propriety and discouraging innovation. The reason Google is out in front on so many Web services, is that no one has the revenue stream to go after them. The main reason Android is so successful, for example, despite being pretty mediocre (admit it, you know it is!), is that it is less than free. Vendors are paid to sell phones running it. How can anyone compete with less than free? And, since there is no competing platform, there is no other compelling place on the Web to advertise. And as long as that remains true, the vicious cycle continues.

Thus, Google a dangerous monopoly. I don't think we are at a stage where it should be broken up, but, like Microsoft before, it should have serious restrictions placed on how it can compete.




By grognard on 4/22/2010 1:34:44 PM , Rating: 2
And while your argument is convincing, it is based on a pile of underlying assumptions symptomatic of a society built on a strong sense of unmerited entitlement. Not your fault, xImtc, so no offense intended. This is simply the kool-aid that is being served nowadays...


why google?
By shin0bi272 on 4/22/2010 11:39:02 AM , Rating: 1
Has anyone been looking at what GE has its fingers in?

Medical technology,Home appliances,Jet turbine engines,"green" technology, and now thanks to the TARP bailouts ... GE capital ... yes they are a bank now too

Anyone else thing that maybe we should be looking at GE instead of google?

dailytech lists my comment as spam... are they owned by GE too? I just made another comment on another post that said less and it was fine... Lame




RE: why google?
By grognard on 4/22/2010 1:36:22 PM , Rating: 2
Everybody wants to look closer at somebody, but nobody wants to look in the mirror... ;-)


I find it funny
By Heizo on 4/22/2010 1:53:05 PM , Rating: 3
I find it funny how many people say Google has this monopoly, and that they hate all the data that Google is collecting on them and Google has all this power...and yet, they still USE Google Services ... Don't like it? There are other options such as yahoo, Microsoft, and if they are still around, AltaVista :). Or do they not measure up to the quality services Google gives you for free?




Load the cannons.
By Earthmonger on 4/22/2010 10:43:30 AM , Rating: 2
Every time I see some sad little regulatory committee try to flex its imaginary muscle at Google, I'm reminded of Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life". I keep wanting to see Google hoist the colors and go on the offensive. They aren't Ma Bell, and shouldn't be treated as such.




Makes no sense
By Motoman on 4/22/2010 11:30:34 AM , Rating: 2
...I have no idea why you'd target Google - I don't see any problem with what they're doing. Their primary business being internet searches, which they are wildly successful at, is a business that has instantaneous access to essentially equivalent competitors. You can just as easily type in www.yahoo.com, or www.bing.com, or www.ask.com, or www.webcrawler.com, or www.cuil.com, etc. etc. etc. No more effort at all on the consumer's part to use a competitive offering.

Sure, it seems that virtually everyone flocks to Google, but that's because they *like* it better. Doesn't even necessarily mean that it *is* better. That doesn't a monopoly make though. That just means it's wildly popular.

On the other hand, I would 100% be for taking aim at the dark heart of eBay/PayPal - if there's any company on the internet in dire need of governmental intervention, it's them.

I could probably even get behind an effort to split Microsoft up. Make them split into an OS division, an Office division, an Enterprise Applications division, etc.

...but Google? I don't get what the fuss is about.




Consumer Watchdog?
By lightfoot on 4/22/2010 1:56:56 PM , Rating: 2
This "Consumer Watchdog" wouldn't happen to be Apple would it?

It seems that beating Apple's pants off has become an "anti-competitive business practice" once again.




Ignorance
By Reclaimer77 on 4/22/2010 4:23:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Simpson wrote in a letter to the DOJ, "Google exerts monopoly power over Internet searches, controlling 70 percent of the U.S. market. For most Americans – indeed, for most people in the world – Google is the gateway to the Internet. How it tweaks its proprietary search algorithms can ensure a business's success or doom it to failure."


This statement shows how politicians and "watchdog" groups are complete computer illiterates. That is NOT how Googles search algorithm works and never has been.




What a bunch of ingrates!
By kroker on 4/23/2010 7:25:09 AM , Rating: 2
People take a lot of things for granted nowadays. Google helped shape the Internet as we know it today, they helped making it easy for most people to use, and this is how we say thanks? Wanting to split them up because others can't keep up? They deserve to be where they are, it's not like others didn't have a chance at it. Google didn't make it's money by selling overhyped, overpriced shiny gadgets, they didn't tie people to an operating system and proprietary technologies. Instead they provided a wealth of free, innovative and very useful services. People CHOSE to use their services, with each and every search. If they are a monopoly, then it's because they did things right and they deserve to be a monopoly. Google doesn't owe us anything, if anything, we owe them.

Splitting them up can only hurt the quality of their services, so I am deeply opposed to that. I don't care if others can't keep up.




Time to...
By xpax on 4/24/2010 12:14:43 AM , Rating: 2
... break up the Apple monopoly on selling overpriced useless gizmos to trendy douchebags.




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