European Commission launches antitrust investigation into Google

Blowout Specials ends 2/28“The European Commission has launched a preliminary antitrust investigation into Google’s search engine and its search-advertising service,” Richard Waters reports for The Financial Times.

“The probe, which the US internet company is believed to have been notified about two weeks ago, will examine both whether it penalises potential competitors in its search rankings, and whether it uses its massive share of the European search advertising market to keep some advertising prices artificially high,” Waters reports.

“Google has faced antitrust reviews on both sides of the Atlantic before,” Waters reports. “However, no government agency had previously started an official enquiry into its search and search-advertising services, despite indications from officials in both Brussels and Washington that such a review might become necessary.”

Waters reports, “According to Google, Brussels’ interest has been sparked by three complaints, one of them from rival Microsoft… The complaint from Ciao, now part of Microsoft’s Bing search engine, centres on Google’s advertising system [regarding] its practice of setting minimum bid levels… Google said that Brussels was also looking into its search rankings. It said the complaints had come from Foundem, a UK price comparison service, and ejustice.fr, a French legal search engine, both of which had complained that they had been relegated to an unfairly low place in Google’s search rankings.”

Read more in the full article here.

12 Comments

  1. There is no compulsion to advertise on Google. How can anyone claim that prices are “artificially” kept high. You either think there is value and pay the price, or you don’t. Now, I can understand an investigation into accusations that Google is tweaking rankings to penalize competitors. Good luck proving it.

  2. Microsoft vs Google hey?

    One’s a giant Apple hating, Apple copying evil monopolist using it’s annual billion dollar profits to try and enter and dominate every market it can think of and failing miserably each time. The other one’s …. oh wait.

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  3. The EU should make Google break itself up, band them from the EU market all together and/or charge them a fine such a large that they have to sell off huge parts of the company to pay the fine and then still take out a huge loan just to keep the core business running day to day . This is where the EU screwed up with Microsoft, the EU should have done just that to MS charge them such a huge fine that they would have had to sell off big parts of the company to pay the fine and then still need to borrow a huge sum of cash to just keep paying for the day to day operations of the core MS business.

    Governments need to stay out of the mind set that breaking up a monopoly like MS or Google might be in some way be bad for consumers or to harsh of punishment for convected Monopolists.

    I say splitting them up is the best thing for consumers. If Microsoft had been split up years ago consumers would have been better off because tech companies would have been so much more innovative and they wouldn’t be living in fear that Microsoft was going to come up from behind them and rape them for their ideas and advancements and forced them out of business, as they have done to so many over the years.
    Intuit almost was killed by Microsoft’s Monopolist anticompetitive tactics (this was after they were found guilty in the Netscape trail.) Microsoft when into talks to buy Intuit for it’s Quicken & Quickbooks Account software and Microsoft let the buyout deal continue to the point that Intuit gave Microsoft complete access to it code once Microsoft had enough of the Quicken and Quickbooks code they pulled out of the buyout and in short order released Microsoft Money a competitor to Quicken & Quickbooks with all the same features as Quicken & Quickbooks, Microsoft Money also supported the Quicken & Quickbooks format natively and directly. Intuit almost when out of business because of the unfair advantage Microsoft had. Because Microsoft had the Quicken & Quickbooks code and the roadmap Intuit had laid out for Quicken & Quickbooks development. The only thing that saved Intuit was being a small company they were able to adapt and keep Microsoft off balance by move Quicken & Quickbooks development into a new more powerful Accounting software development and MS wasn’t able to keep pace. Intuit got their market share back from Microsoft and Microsoft finally admitted defeat and ended development and sales of Microsoft Money. But the loss of revenue and profits for Intuit during the early days almost put them out of business. If Microsoft had done to Intuit what they did to Netscape by giving MS Money away for free with WIndows it would have killed them but, the bright side is that Microsoft charged for MS Money though it was a lot cheaper then what Intuit was charging for Quicken or Quickbooks. Intuit after a few releases where able to justify the higher price by added in far more advanced features then Microsoft was able to add into MS Money in the same amount of time. Microsoft had banked on and bet their market dominance in Accounting Software on Intuit sticking to the roadmap that Microsoft had acquired during the take over talks. Intuit basically bet their future on being able to get ahead of Microsoft and to have better quality then Microsoft in the end Intuit did survive and it has forced Intuit to actually becoming a much bigger company then Intuit was or really wanted to be.

  4. @Demon

    Hey thanks for the Microsoft – Quicken background. Very interesting stuff and shows how despicable Microsoftian tactics are!

    But Demon, my friend, have you thought of using paragraphs next time…? ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  5. Could the educators in the United States please place more emphasis on teaching the difference between ‘then’ & ‘than’ as well as ‘there’ and ‘their’.

    Looking forward to the results of this effort.

  6. Demon
    I am no fan of Microsoft. And I believe fair trade practices should be enforced (to prevent theft of intellectual property as described in your account of MS and Intuit).

    BUT I feel the free market shoul not be interfered with by the government. Overtime the free market will generate small competitors that overthrow the Goliath established ones.

    Without MS’s size a standard would never have been set in which software companies could make programs that talked to each other. Instead we would have had a more segmented spectrum of computers. We saw this in the early days with Texas instuments, Commodore, Tandy, and others that would only work in their own company products. As a result no individual comapny had enough market share to sustain itself.

    At some point in the evolution of technology a unifying standard must be chosen either by consortium or by a dominant player. Otherwise the market is full of waste. Case in point is Toshiba losing to blue Ray.

    Again, I’m a Apple Fan boy who loves to cheer for the underdog and I was delighted when I heard the Justice department was going after MS. But my glee was wrong, the world over all is a better place having MS in it than to have not had it.

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