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Europe's antitrust chief accused Google of diverting traffic

Google may have gotten off pretty easy with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) earlier this month, but it doesn't look like the European antitrust authorities will let Google go with a warning and a slap on the wrist.

Joaquin Almunia, Europe's antitrust chief, recently said that Google is providing search results that promote its own services instead of fairly showing those of competitors.

"We are still investigating, but my conviction is [Google] are diverting traffic," said Almunia. "They are monetising this kind of business, the strong position they have in the general search market and this is not only a dominant position, I think -- I fear -- there is an abuse of this dominant position."

Almunia added that he agreed with the FTC's recent decision to force Google to change its business practices, but the EU's punishment at the investigation's conclusion will "not be weaker."

Google could have to pay the EU a fine as high as 10 percent of its global annual turnover, which would be about $3.79 billion.

Earlier this month, Google managed to escape a nearly two-year U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation without paying any fines. 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 like Microsoft and Nextag, who believe Google won't learn its lesson unless there are severe consequences.

Source: ZDNet

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By Tony Swash on 1/11/2013 1:00:38 PM , Rating: -1
The proposed fine is a minute and tiny amount compared to the EU's budget. The desire to collect revenue is not the main motivation for the EU action

Microsoft have a monopoly share of the desktop PC market and have been convicted of using illegal monopoly tactics in the past in the browser space, hence the EU interest and resulting action.

Google have a monopoly share of the search market and anybody serious about a business which involves web selling and marketing has to appear in Google search of effectively disappear from search and thus die. And so using the access that Google gets from it's search system to collect and then repackage other people's data in order to to enhance Google's own and competing product is a monopolist act.

Apple does not have a monopoly in any market or product sector it operates in, in fact in everything other than tablets Apple is a minority player, and so no consumer is forced to do anything as there are always plenty of alternative non-Apple products to choose from. If they choose Apple and the iTunes model then it is a free and unpressured choice. If people want to use the so called 'open' Android model they are free to do so without their choice being constrained by any pressure from a non-existant Apple monopoly.

One way to assess whether a monopoly exists is to consider whether a very large and predominant market share creates a situation where by not using the dominant product, or any other products from the same company, results in problems for the consumer and thus create a pressure directly stemming from a large market share in one product to use another offering from the same company.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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