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Competitors will weigh in on the matter first

It looks like Google is on the path to escaping fees in yet another search dominance investigation as the European Commission accepts changes recently submitted by the American tech company. 
 
According to the EU, Google has agreed to promote the services of three competitors in Google Search results alongside its own services. The rival companies will have their results promoted in a similar way as the Google products being displayed on the page, giving no unfair advantages to anyone in particular. 
 
Google also addressed other EU concerns, such as giving content providers an extensive opt-out from the use of their content in Google's search services without penalties; removing exclusivity requirements in its agreements with publishers for the provision of search advertisements; and removing restrictions for search advertising campaigns to be run on competing search advertising platforms. 
 
"Turning this proposal into a legally binding obligation for Google would ensure that competitive conditions are both restored quickly and maintained over the next years," said Joaquín Almunia, head of the EU antitrust unit.
 
The EU is pleased with Google's latest changes, but the search giant's competitors will get a say before the submissions are turned into a legally binding obligation.


[SOURCE: static.guim.co.uk]

This settlement means Google will have escaped as much as a $5 billion fine, or 10 percent of its 2012 revenue. It would also end a nearly four-year antitrust investigation by the EU as to whether Google arranges search results in a way that benefits itself instead of consumers and competitors. 
 
This probably sounds similar to the two-year investigation the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched against Google regarding its dominance on the Web. Instead of paying fines, the FTC made Google promise that it would stop scraping reviews and information from other websites, stop requesting sales bans when suing companies for patent infringement and allow advertisers to export data in order to evaluate advertising campaigns.

The decision to not fine Google after such a long investigation surprised many rival companies, but FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said it was in the best interest of all involved.

The EU swore not to go easy on Google the way the FTC did, and while the EU investigation has been lengthier than the FTCs, it looks like Google is still dodging fines. 

A final settlement is expected in the coming weeks for the EU case. 

Source: Europa.eu



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No advantages to anyone in particular?
By Schrag4 on 2/5/2014 12:30:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
According to the EU, Google has agreed to promote the services of three competitors in Google Search results alongside its own services. The rival companies will have their results promoted in a similar way as the Google products being displayed on the page, giving no unfair advantages to anyone in particular.


Advantages are given to the 3 competitors that Google chooses to display results from. As usual, in trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist, the solution is to essentially "discriminate against fewer." I'm continually amazed that the EU forces corporations to advertise for their competitors. Of course then I remember that the EU doesn't trust its citizens to make an informed decision on anything.




RE: No advantages to anyone in particular?
By nolisi on 2/5/2014 12:59:56 PM , Rating: 5
"trust its citizens to make an informed decision on anything."

Actually, the EU doesn't trust the market to properly provide information about itself so that citizens can make informed decisions- which is completely understandable. Living in an age where companies conduct counter-marketing and anonymously log in to review sites to provide themselves with favorable reviews and competitors with unfavorable reviews...

In fact, I can see that the whole idea of promoting the services of other competitors is so that consumers are informed of other options before they blindly sign on to Google's services (btw, I'm a heavy user and advocate for Google's devices and services). Google has a tendency to filter search results for users based on their personal history. It stands to reason that this can have the effect of filtering out pertinent information that might make a better informed user when that user is really searching for information outside of their use pattern, but Google's search algorithm decides to present other info.


RE: No advantages to anyone in particular?
By amanojaku on 2/5/2014 1:48:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Actually, the EU doesn't trust the market to properly provide information about itself so that citizens can make informed decisions- which is completely understandable.
No, it's not. There are independent reviews and word of mouth. A business should not be forced to spend its time and money promoting a competitor. This isn't "Miracle on 34th Street"; this is real life. If the EU wants people to be aware of their choices, it can create an online site where business can register and advertise.


RE: No advantages to anyone in particular?
By BZDTemp on 2/5/2014 3:22:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If the EU wants people to be aware of their choices, it can create an online site where business can register and advertise.


Are you really that naive that you think something like what you propose would work. Or is it that you can't see the power market control gives a company if it's allowed to use that to get ahead in other markets.

If something like what you suggest should have value it would require people to inform them self using such a site, but while those in the know might use such a site it would not make a difference for the majority as they do not know what it is they don't know.

I think it is great that the EU is going to great lengths to ensure fair competition, it ensures more choice, lower prices and a more rapid technological development.


RE: No advantages to anyone in particular?
By Reclaimer77 on 2/5/2014 4:05:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think it is great that the EU is going to great lengths to ensure fair competition


I agree, I think America should do the same thing.

I actually prefer DelTaco over Taco Bell, but you know, Del Taco isn't that big and they have a hard time competing. It's not fair.

I think every Taco Bell should be forced by the Government to allow Del Taco menu items to be purchased at every Taco Bell. This would ensure fair competition.


RE: No advantages to anyone in particular?
By KCjoker on 2/5/2014 6:49:12 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot the /sarcasm at the end of your post....I hope


By Reclaimer77 on 2/5/2014 7:33:09 PM , Rating: 2
Well yes that was sarcasm, but the analogy is valid. Which was my point.

Forcing one company to dedicate resources and money to directly bail out their competition, on the premise of some arbitrary sense of "fairness", is just horrendous.


RE: No advantages to anyone in particular?
By boobo on 2/5/2014 8:18:38 PM , Rating: 2
That's a good point, but the comparison is not really accurate because Taco Bell is restaurant, not a platform. Being a dominant platform makes it very easy to distort the market of whatever runs on your platform. If Taco Bell's mother company owned all the malls of the nation (except one or 2) and they did not allow Del Taco to rent a space in any of their food courts, then the platform would be interfering with the free market of the taco industry.


RE: No advantages to anyone in particular?
By Reclaimer77 on 2/5/2014 8:29:27 PM , Rating: 1
If Taco Bell isn't the "dominant platform" for fast food Mexican in this country, I don't know wtf is.

And come on, split hairs much?


RE: No advantages to anyone in particular?
By boobo on 2/5/2014 9:19:08 PM , Rating: 3
It's not my intention to split hairs. I just don't see Taco Bell as a platform at all because their purpose is not to enable third party products or services. An OS, a router, a fibre network, a search engine, a mall don't do anything in and of themselves. Their purpose is to enable the products and services that (run on/reside in/are accessed through) them.

For me, this is much more important than splitting hairs because I don't believe anti-trust laws should ever be used to make competition within a market "more fair." They should only be used to prevent stronger markets from distorting weaker markets. In this regard, the difference between "platforms" and "products and services" is vital.


RE: No advantages to anyone in particular?
By Reclaimer77 on 2/5/2014 9:29:59 PM , Rating: 2
Google isn't a service provider with an obligation for fairness or whatever. They aren't responsible for the "public good". They're a company which has a legal obligation to seek a profit.

People act like a search engine is there for their own health or something. Uhhh no.

For all intents and purposes, Google has little to no competition. Not because they distorted weaker markets, but because they ARE the search engine market. They built the first viable and modern and robust search engine long ago, it was SUCH a great improvement the whole world flocked to it, and it's been that way ever since.

I don't know if that's "fair" or not, but what do you expect them to do?

You bring up some good points, but I just cannot agree with the way the EU handles this stuff.


By boobo on 2/5/2014 9:53:08 PM , Rating: 3
I completely agree with all your points above. I don't think they contradict any of my points, though. Google Search is the dominant search engine. They earned it fair and square by winning a fair competition in a free search engine market. They deserve to be dominant and to stay dominant unless free competition takes the market away from them.

Now, here is where we differ. Google Search is a platform, like a railroad. The web pages that come up from searches are the actual end-user products and services. Those web pages are (a) weaker market(s).

Google doesn't have to make any concessions to competitors in the Search market. It doesn't have to make competition in the Search market any more fair.

However, if Google decides not to be just Google search (not to be just a platform) and goes into the web page market to compete with other web pages to provide webmail, image storage, blogs, etc., they can't use their dominant platform to distort those weaker markets. If this were allowed, then those markets wouldn't be free markets anymore. The best/cheaper/best marketed web pages would not win. The platform (being the stronger market) would allow inferior and/or more expensive products to win in the weaker markets. (Hypothetically, of course. Google makes very good services). This is where I think anti-trust laws have a place. (Even though the EU took it a bit too far here.)


By NellyFromMA on 2/6/2014 11:11:18 AM , Rating: 2
I think his point is that if you know about Del Taco already then you are already ahead of the game the EU attempts to "correct".

The EU attempts to correct the medium with which consumers even REALIZE competitors exist so that they may then determine for themselves which they prefer. In the EU's eyes, Google is such a dominant medium for research of any given thing that if those results will be biased towards itself, or any other vendor for that matter, then that hides the other options or obfuscates their relevance.

Google is the de-facto search engine because of a proven track record to provide the MOST RELEVANT results. That's the foundation for its entire empire.

If those results are biased to favor itself or another vendor on anything other than search-criteria match merit now that it has expanded into businesses other than search, then that is a problem in the EU's eyes.

It's not about Google having to sell competitor products. Nor is it about Del Taco having to sell Taco Bell's.

Rather, it's about even knowing that Del Taco is even an option to begin with.

This is an interesting contrast to the EU / MS situation where MS had to offer EU users a browser choice as any of those users could have loaded IE and asked about browser choices. Then, if that search engine wasn't being biased with ulterior motives, you would likely have found Firefox, Chrome, and the rest of the gang. In Google's case, even that is not possible without knowing to go to Bing instead (which, while doable, often results in just going to Google instead).

Without knowing the specifics here, I do think that search results should not be biased towards the search-providers ulterior interests. It should be solely on match merit. This is, afterall, what made Google great to begin with and how they became such a staple of our society. To change that, frankly, I think is a slap in the face of all the users who brought Google into prosperity to begin with.

As to whether the EU is biased or not, well, I'm sure they are.

Just my two cents.


Lemme get this straight
By anactoraaron on 2/5/2014 1:38:57 PM , Rating: 2
So the online search competition isn't as good as google and the solution is to show three competitors results first in a google search?

Here's what I imagine it will look like:

Searching for 'Gaming Laptop'

First thing listed from google search (competitor #1)

Search with us now! We found your 'gaming laptop'. Displays ad instead of something relevant.

Second thing listed from google search (competitor #2)

Search with us now! We found your 'gaming laptop'. Displays ad instead of something relevant.

Same for the third competitor.

Basically I see this as a prop up for these competitors that aren't as good for them to make more ad money. Now they can put their ads as the first results always from the most popular and accurate search engine on the internet. Good 'ole EU.

And there are those who think American government is a clusterf*ck of corruption and mismanagement of it's people. Pot, meet kettle.




RE: Lemme get this straight
By BZDTemp on 2/5/2014 3:50:29 PM , Rating: 1
For sure the suggested system will work so that it brings real value and not some sort of silly crap.

Now as for the EU, corruption and mismanagement of it's people then might I suggest looking more into what the EU is. For sure there is corruption, in some member states it is bad but fortunately in most member states there is little corruption and in some it's almost unheard of. That's when you look at the member states and then when you look at how the EU system you'll find lots of openness and democracy at work. Comparing it with how it works in DC would be funny if wasn't so tragic that such a great nation is in such a state.


RE: Lemme get this straight
By Reclaimer77 on 2/5/2014 4:15:47 PM , Rating: 2
Pure jingoism.

America has problems, but the idea that Europe is the epitome of Democracy and openness..just..who do you think you're fooling?

And corruption? There's no such thing as a Government that isn't RIFE with corruption from top to bottom.

When you tell lies THIS big online, it doesn't take much effort to debunk them with a search.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26014387


RE: Lemme get this straight
By BZDTemp on 2/6/2014 3:45:37 AM , Rating: 2
I have told no lies. As I stated there are good places and bad places within the EU member states when it comes to corruption, the BBC article you link to says the same. If you look at the map you'll notice that the corruption problems are mostly with the newer member counties and some of the southern countries. You'll also notice that the bigger member states are within those with little corruption and the Nordic countries are almost without corruption (good examples of Governments that are far from being rife with corruption).

I'm not claiming the EU is perfect only that it is nowhere as bad as in the US. Just look at how money rules your elections and the damage the winner takes all election systems has done. Heck look at something as simple as how the votes are being counted with those in power doing their best to reshape voting districts.

The BBC article comes from the EU pointing fingers at itself to raise awareness of corruption which is part of the battle against it. And while the numbers mentioned may look big you gotta remember there are a ½ billion people in the EU.


RE: Lemme get this straight
By Reclaimer77 on 2/6/2014 4:30:44 AM , Rating: 2
Okay good cop outs.

Well the US isn't corrupt either then, because there are good states and bad states and bla bla bla.


RE: Lemme get this straight
By BZDTemp on 2/6/2014 3:55:43 PM , Rating: 2
You really need to look into how the EU works, because right now you're making statements about a system you obviously know very little about.

For a start go look the EU on wikipedia (I tried linking to it but the stupid DT filter put a stop to that).


RE: Lemme get this straight
By Reclaimer77 on 2/7/2014 10:50:22 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
(I tried linking to it but the stupid DT filter put a stop to that).


Sounds like it's doing it's job to me. Anything pro EU is by default spam.


RE: Lemme get this straight
By atechfan on 2/9/2014 6:06:46 AM , Rating: 2
Any country that elected Obama even once, let alone twice, has no ground to stand on when criticizing others.


Wanna Bet...
By mmatis on 2/6/2014 7:36:27 AM , Rating: 2
there is more going on here than what is publicly stated? Wanna bet that Google is giving the EU backdoors into its software in return for dropping the prosecution, just as Microsoft gave backdoors into THEIR software to get the FedPigs off their case several years ago? But then surely Google would never do any such thing. Nor would Apple. Nor Facebook. And obviously I made that up about Microsoft, for Mr. Gates is FAR too honorable a man to even consider such a thing.




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