The European Union is readying a new antitrust probe that will set sights on Google, upon complaints over the tech giant’s business tactics from three European internet companies; vertical search site Foundem, legal search engine Ejustice.fr, and Ciao.de, the German-based subsidiary of Microsoft.
The WSJ reported late today that the complaints stemmed from “Google unfairly ranks the sites of the Internet competitors, in effect lowering their rank in search results that appear on Google sites.” Google has posted a response on its European Public Policy Blog that essentially denies any wrongdoing:
We understand how important rankings can be to websites, especially commercial ones, because a higher ranking typically drives higher volumes of traffic. We are also the first to admit that our search is not perfect, but it’s a very hard computer science problem to crack. Imagine having to rank the 272 million possible results for a popular query like the iPod on a 14 by 12 screen computer screen in just a few milliseconds. It’s a challenge we face millions of times each day.
Given the steady climb of market share that Google has been experiencing in the last several years, it’s not surprising that governments have more of an incentive in launching closer inspections of what they may believe is a precursor to, say a monopoly on search. Google also has a larger position in search advertising in Europe, compared to its standing in the United States. Remember, Google, your motto has always been “don’t be evil”.