FTC exploring antitrust case against Google

Google’s competitors have been complaining to the FTC of certain competitive advantages that some might consider outside the scope of the law, and you can count five FTC commissioners among them. According to a Reuters report, these top decision-makers beliee an antitrust case against Google would be appropriate following over a year’s worth of digging into the matter. All but one commissioner feels there is sufficient proof that Google “illegally used its dominance of the search market to hurt its rivals.”

While the news doesn’t directly relate to the Android branch of the Big G’s operations, a case of this stature could result in one of the biggest shake-ups in the tech industry to date. The suit would likely come with the names of several of those registering complaints to the FTC attached.

[via Reuters]

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  • Douglas Hill

    This story does not make sense to me. How can a free product keep you off of other services? You can simply point your browser elsewhere and use a competing service. There is no lock-in, only sore losers. I’m looking at you Bing.

    • phinn

      Hard to say, but as a counter-point I suppose you could also say with Microsoft, how can a product you have to pay for keep you from using other services.

      • Luxferro

        I never quite understood the fines by the EU against MS for including IE in Windows, making them make versions w/o IE. It’s their OS, they created it, and it isn’t a monopoly. They should be allowed to package in any of their other software if they want. It doesn’t keep people from installing 3rd party browsers. I’m not even a fan of MS, nore use IE. Just doesn’t seem fair to me since it’s their product.

        • phoenix_fire

          it’s because most people are either lazy or uninformed. they don’t know that other browsers exist and that they can download them, or they won’t download them because they already have one that they feel works perfectly fine. this provides microsoft with a competitive advantage that makes the “little guy” suffer because he can’t his foot in the door. (i agree that it’s a little silly but i can also see where the EU is coming from)

          • http://twitter.com/inguatu ingua2

            The EU can’t sue a company because they believe people are lazy or uninformed. After Microsoft apparently lost, people are still lazy and uninformed. Meanwhile, Apple enjoys keeping Safari, iTunes, Quicktime and other related services on its Macs and to an extent on iOS devices. I guess the difference is, judges in the EU would be screwing themselves over by forcing Apple to remove these anti-competitive “features” because they all have iphones.

          • phoenix_fire

            they aren’t suing microsoft. they’re accusing them of monopolizing the market. there’s a difference. people may still be lazy and uninformed, but now the other companies (makers of browsers or whatever) have an opportunity to get their products into more people’s hands, which spurs competition and advancement.

            as for your apple argument, microsoft has the majority market share so it’s a moot point. you can’t monopolize in an area where there’s someone that outsells you. (i hate you for making me defend apple).

            keep in mind that what i’m saying is the reasoning behind all this, not my personal views on the subject.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=743818678 Marvin Nakajima

            Perhaps it can be argued that though Apple allows other webbrowsers in iOS, they are REQUIRED to use the Apple Webkit (safari engine) in the back resulting in all other browser effectively becoming Safari with a different look. I would submit that iOS would probably fall under similar if not a more serious case of anti-competitive practice than that of Microsoft’s IE. Also unlike the Macs’ MacOS, iOS is not a minor player in the mobile OS market.

          • peanutsrevenge

            I believe Apple invented the law, which is why they appear to avoid cases and decisions against them.

          • phoenix_fire

            except the situation deals with computer browsers, not smartphone browsers. this whole thing doesn’t apply to ios.

            legal wording and loopholes ftw -.-

          • ratnok

            Apple’s Macs aren’t even close to being a monopoly. With less than 7% market share, they are practically irrelevant.

          • peanutsrevenge

            So, legally, it’s OK try to monopolize, so long as you’re unsuccessful with your attempts?

            Sounds about right?!

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=822507437 Paul Guy

            I does seem pretty dumb how companies are held to different legal standards just because of market share. I understand monopolies are a problem, but one company can’t be prohibited from using certain business strategies when another isn’t. That’s the whole point of regulation.

          • z0phi3l

            How do you download a browser without a browser? Remember, most computer users are dumb, don’t know other than point and click

        • peanutsrevenge

          I never understood it either.
          How were people supposed to get a different browser without having a browser in the first place.
          Let’s remember, this was before smartphones and general folk weren’t likely to have a laptop or other device either.

          Their browser chooser thing is a good addition IMO.

    • Mike Reid

      There is LOTS of money flowing around. Google is not a charity.

      Just because some Google services are free for small users doesn’t mean otherwise.

      We’ll have to see more detailed reports, but surely info will leak.

    • Dave

      The complaints from the Reuters article mention potential for manipulating search result ranks that favor Google services over competitors who compete in the same space. The accusation is that Google intentionally down ranks competitor services so that they are “forced” to buy more ads that get them better visibility.

      Funny enough any top search result for me having to do with any equivalent to Google services bring up competing services at the top.

      I believe the FTC is obligated to investigate these matters if enough complaints pile up, which is the case here.

      • Luxferro

        But who says a search engine has to be fair or accurate? There are other search engines, Google doesn’t have a monopoly. Even if it were true that’s just about how everything in america works. From companies to politics.

        • Dave

          Oh I don’t disagree with you. In this case, Google is becoming a victim of their own success. They are undoubtedly the big dog in search, as a result they’re going to get a lot more scrutiny.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=743818678 Marvin Nakajima

            Still there should be no grounds for a case being that there are other search engines out there and unlike web browser software nothing significant really has to be downloaded and installed to use a new search engine.

    • rekem

      If you owned a small business that relies on search results like I do, you’d know there’s money involved. My adwords cost has ballooned in recent years, and it’s a helpless feeling to be a slave to one companies ad network. Personally, I’d love some competition. I’d even say it would be good for Google’s search results. They’ve been rapidly deteriorating lately. Some conspiracy theories are that it’s being done intentionally to boost adwords revenue, and I’m actually starting to think there’s something to that.

      • http://www.708media.com/ Chris Edwards

        But still, it is all based off of choice. Your customers can choose to use Bing or Yahoo if they want. Good marketing does not make you a monopoly. Under that mindset, Blackberry and Apple should have been in hot water during their prime in the market for smartphones.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamille-Browne/1184321457 Jamille Browne

    I choose to use google search Bing is trash forget about yahoo and ask.com let also forget about AOL.

    Google isn’t forcing me to use this service. Though Firefox likes to throw BING in my face like I actually want that.

    • aQuickBit

      you forgot about dogpile.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamille-Browne/1184321457 Jamille Browne

    “Google rivals specializing in travel, shopping and entertainment have accused Google, the world’s No. 1 search engine, of unfairly giving their web sites low quality rankings in search results to steer Internet users away from their websites and toward Google products that provide similar services.
    Computer users are overwhelmingly more likely to click on the top results in any search. The low ranking often forces companies to buy more ads on Google to improve their visibility, one source said.
    Google has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.”
    These whiners aren’t going to stop until El Goog reveals their algorithm.

    • Aslan Bollin

      What are these so called competing Google products specializing in travel, shopping and entertainment o_O?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamille-Browne/1184321457 Jamille Browne

        Thats a good question

      • aQuickBit

        I’d like to know as well.
        Travel: other map services (which are free?), Kayak(dot)com or Travelocity? I don’t ever remember being able to book a hotel or flight with Google services.
        Shopping: I can’t buy stuff from Google…always finds stuff on Amazon or buy.com through shopping.google.com
        Entertainment: I can’t recall being able to rent movies from Google services like Netflix
        So what “rivals” are there? I don’t think anyone else really is in the same industry as Google except other search/information sites. It seems like they are complaining because they themselves aren’t making a ton of money. Ironic.

  • Southrncomfortjm

    Quick! Start using Bing and Yahoo so Google doesn’t look so dominant!

  • Eric Silva

    Here is the problem. Just like Kleenex for tissues, Google is the household name for an internet search. When someone asks how to find something or a website you say, “just Google it.”

  • louched1

    On a semi-related note, I wonder when Apple is going to start getting sued due to their market share in certain markets. MS and Google have faced it. I think it’s Apple’s turn.

  • Jeff432

    Please switch to Livefyre.

  • Robert Manser

    Sounds like Apple probably tip off the FTC Lol.

  • ionekoa

    they spelled “apple” wrong

  • TimTheK

    I hate when I go into Best Buy and ask them about refrigerators and they don’t tell me what Sears is selling. Bullshit! I call for an investigation of Best Buy!

  • ari_free

    Reward failure and punish success. That’s the American way!