Google: Why Governments Cannot Decide
December 5, 2012
I just read “Eric Schmidt: EC and FTC Should Make a Decision on Google Lawsuit.” The write up reveals the best and worst of “real” journalism. The main point of the story is that government agencies should make a decision about whether Google is taking advantage of its dominant position in search to advantage its own businesses. Is there any information which suggests that Google is not dominant. With 90 percent of the search traffic in Europe flowing through the GOOG, that 10 percent may be shriveling. In the US, the wild and crazy traffic estimates suggest that Google accounts for only 65 percent of the search traffic.
The article states:
The EC and FTC have been considering complaints from a number of companies in Europe and the US about Google’s positioning of its own products such as Google Shopping in search results ahead of rivals’, and other complaints relating to the use of sites’ content in search results, advertising portability and exclusivity. For Google, the possibility of having to yield to government regulation over the ordering of its search results would be the first major incursion into its operation by outside authorities. Supporters have said that such a move would interfere with its free speech. The EC and FTC are expected to decide what to do independently over the question by the end of the year, though no formal timetable has been announced. The two regulators are also separately considering demands made by Motorola Mobility, which Google purchased for $12.5bn earlier this year, to use its ownership of standards-essential patents to block competitors’ sales.
In my view, it is a little late for regulators to start making decisions about Google. The reasons for the foot dragging which my team developed over lunch yesterday included:
- Regulators want one of their children to get a job at Google. Why spoil employment prospects for one’s progeny?
- Regulators don’t use online services. If the regulator does not experience any type of constraint, what is the big deal?
- Companies which complain about Google are not going anywhere any way? Why not ignore them?
- Going slow gives those involved something to do.
- Since when do government agencies move quickly?
- Barn burned. Horses gone. The digital Wal-Mart is building another business already.
- Going to meetings with Google means regulators get nifty Google items like mouse pads with the zany Google logo.
What’s your explanation?
Stephen E Arnold, December 5, 2012