Google's EU Case: Three Reasons Why It Matters To You

The European Union is aiming for Google this month with a statement of objections. They've made allegations that Google isn't doing what they should when it comes to their super-dominant search engine. They suggest that what Google is doing with their search engine is selling products when they should simply be providing the public with this service without destroying their competition in the process. The European Union suggests that Google can keep doing what they're doing now – just so long as they're not found guilty of doing so in a way that allows no competition to realistically compete.

This isn't new

A number of companies have accused Google to be running a monopoly on the search engine business over the past few years. The first was a company called Foundem, who inspired the European Commission to open a formal investigation back in 2010. This was one year after Foundem made their first complaint.

Microsoft, Tripadvisor, and Expedia also complained in a similar manner in Europe between 2009 and 2010. The commissioner of the European Commission, Joaquín Almunia, was in charge of this set of allegations and worked with Google in 2012 to cut a deal instead of running through the full antitrust case.

Without finishing the case in full, in 2014 Almunia's term with the Commission was up, and Margrethe Vestager took over. As the Telegraph suggests, a "new sense of urgency" has since swept the agency, and Google's is facing a more public front.

Google isn't alone

Google isn't the only search engine in the world, and they certainly aren't the only company that includes advertisements or similar product-selling bits on the internet.

The question isn't whether Google is alone in doing this, it's whether or not Google is using their position to cause harm to competition online.

Google's Defense

Before any sort of official case begins, Google has suggested that there is no case. They suggest – through Amit Singhal, Senior Vice President, Google Search – that similar cases have turned up completely bonkers.

One example is the 2010 Google acquisition of ITA, a company that showed flight ticket sales. Travel sites like Expedia, Kayak, and Travelocity, lobbied against Google's acquisition, saying that if Google incorporated ITA results into Google Search, they'd drive their competition out of business.

Four years after Google began incorporating flight ticket searches in their standard Google Search results, several of these same companies (Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, and Travelocity) account for 95% of the USA-based online travel market today.

*That's according to a PhoCusWright (travel analysis) study cited by the Washington Post.

This could change everything (and nothing)

Google's way of including shopping results in searches around the world may just become the way we shop. Then again, it may not.

While the European Commission suggests Google be investigated further – to see whether or not their way of doing business here aims to stop competition – we might just be in the middle of a storm of change.

It may just be Google's prerogative to include shopping results in amongst their non-shopping results in searches through their engine. I expect Google to lead me to the right answer, and if they can't – which, of course they can't always – I seek out another site I know can do better.

Searching for their name in Google as I do so.

Televisions have speakers – they don't intend on wiping out the speaker business. They'd be at no advantage to do so. People expect a TV set to have some manner of speakers, and if they want something better, they go to a company that specializes in speakers.

This might just be the way the internet is evolving – and the European Commission might just not have a case.