Choices: is Google a monopoly?

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In early 2013, the Federal Trade Commission concluded its investigation to see if Google’s search engine business violates antitrust laws.  The verdict was a unanimous NO, but it came after Google responded to criticisms that it gives preference to its own social network (Google+) and business listings.  This preference put the competition lower on the Google search results page, and when you control two-thirds of the search engine market, that can be a problem.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt defended his company by saying that the search engine’s competitors were always “one click away,” and that users have a choice in what search engine they use.  More interestingly, it was argued in the case that Google’s search algorithm and results are its scientific opinion, and are protected by the First Amendment.[1]

It isn’t all good news for Google elsewhere.  The European Commission recently concluded a lengthy investigation of Google, in which they concluded that Google was giving search preference to its own services, among other violations.  In a market where Google accounts for 90% of searches, this could be troublesome for the internet giant.

Teddy Roosevelt smashing the trusts

Teddy Roosevelt smashing the trusts

To answer the title of my post, in the USA it is, and in the EU it isn’t.   Recalling my post from President’s Day, I am again reminded of the importance of choice.  In the USA and EU, searchers can access any number of search engines.  So, Google is only a monopoly if you let it monopolize your search experience.  Take advantage of the choices we have in the free market, and give Bing a try.

[1] Notte, J. (2013).  Google avoids antitrust suit.  Viewed Jan. 4, 2013 from http://money.msn.com/now/post.aspx?post=fdb4d5c4-a11d-46f2-9102-89eb553128ef.

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Categories: In the news

1 reply

  1. I have tried Bing…it didn’t seem that different, but I must say I didn’t care for them wanting me to “search with friends” and get involved with Facebook.

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