On Google antitrust case: “Let’s face it, some companies want to hurt Google and it goes as simple as that”

Portraits of Margrethe Vestager, Member of the EC in charge of Competition (EC Audiovisual Services, 11/12/2014)

Portraits of Margrethe Vestager, Member of the EC in charge of Competition (EC Audiovisual Services, 11/12/2014)

After 5 long lingering years a bit of light will be cast on Google’s antitrust case in Europe. Former Commissioner Joaquin Almunia for Competition failed to resolve the matter successfully during his term, going back and forth numerous times. Like a modern Pontius Pilate who “washed his hands”, the Spanish politician, who launched the Google investigation back in 2009, left this “hot potato” sitting on his desk for the new Commissioner, Mrs Margrethe Vestager, to “peel”. According to sources, the next days will finally flag some evolution in the Google drama in Europe.

The Sting has been following the case very closely, with numerous investigative analysis during Mr Almunia’s times. The EU’s antitrust case against Google refers to the dominant position of the search engine, which is estimated to some 90% of the European search engine market. Competitors like Microsoft are wildly envious of the European citizen’s preference to this American search engine and have been lobby spending considerable money during those 5 years to get Google “punished”. Further, retailers that do not see their thumbnails prominently positioned in Google shop, travel agencies like trip advisor, and even huge publishers like Axel Springer have been seeking for a long time the “punishment” of Google by the European Commission. This punishment would amount to a maximum of 10% of the giant’s most recent turnover spreadsheet or some €6 billion.

Sources maintain that 6 billion is an astronomical number, even for the huge flock of lawyers that the European Commission employs. The record fine imposed ever in a company by DG Comp has been €1,1 billion and was addressed to Intel for benefiting from its leading position as chip manufacturer. The main American “rival” of Google, Microsoft, have also seen their bank account empty by some €2 billion during the last decade, over claims like browser “monopolisation”. The Google case is currently missing from the trophy collection of DG Comp.

All against Google

The Danish Commissioner who is now in power for less than 6 months, last week from a conference in Copenhagen declared that some companies make an “illegal use” of their “position of dominance in a certain market to make life difficult for rivals or keep them at bay.”…“In this as in any other investigation, we are indifferent to where the companies involved happen to be headquartered” because “the same rules apply to all,” she stressed.

Further, TripAdvisor’s CEO, obviously disappointed by how the competition body at the other side of the Atlantic (FTC)  spared the “life” of Google on a similar case, said openly to New York Times: “Google’s anticompetitive behavior and restricting search does not benefit consumers and it’s disappointing that with so many examples the F.T.C. closed the investigation,”…“We are hopeful the European Commission will come to a different conclusion.” All the Google rivals pretty much empathise with the CEO of the digital travel agency service.

The big issue

The big issue though is not the €6 billion or the 1€ billion compromise to end up with. No, the big issue is the settlements or changes that Google has promised to Mr Almunia to make, in order to serve the complainants worries. This is something that the press has not cast enough light on. Many have said that the changes Google proposes to make are minor, others say that they are not adequate. But not substantial reportage has been created on the scenarios Google proposes. Most importantly no clear determination has been shown by the Commission to work on those “settlements”, push the American company to give more and more freedom to competition.

Let’s face it, some companies want to hurt Google and it goes as simple as that. They dream of a knife in the belly of the beast, a couple of billion euros paid by the grumpy shareholders, and most of all they dream of the cost, time and pain that Google will take to reshape their interface and even customise it uniquely for the European market. This would please the competition, as it would slow down the leading search engine, hoping that Bing or Cling would increase market share. This is mainly the gist of it.

A balanced approach

Mrs Vestager and DG Comp is anticipated now to resume the settlements procedure with Google, hopefully in a more productive way than her predecessor. Sending billions of euros fines is not the solution to any problem. Instead, let’s simply make Google Europe a more “tolerant” interface with less Google branding.

In any case, the Commission needs to keep away from the Sirens that want their enemy “hanged”, and find the right balanced scheme to the Google interface. Balanced for the consumer who wants plurality and balanced for the market who needs to remain sustainable and profitable. Mrs Vestager and her team have already shown some positive signs that they are able to deliver. The Sting in the meantime will follow the matter closely.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Why Trump’s tariffs are good news for US garlic farmers

North-east Nigeria displacement crisis continues amid ‘increased sophistication’ of attackers, warns UN

GSMA Announces New Speakers for Mobile 360 Series – MENA, in association with The European Sting

Major UN aid operation for 650,000 gets underway across Syria-Jordan border

How painful is the Greek tragedy for the Germans?

Mali peace process in a ‘critical phase’, says head of UN Mission

New SDG Advocates sign up for ‘peace, prosperity, people’ and planet, on the road to 2030

Tobacco-free public space – how is the European law executed in my country?

To Bing or Not to Bing? That is the question

Back to the Basics: Primary Healthcare

Libya stands at a ‘critical juncture’, UN mission head tells Security Council

New round of bargaining for the 2014 EU budget late in autumn

EU Budget 2020 conciliation talks suspended

Half the world’s refugee children not in school, UN agency finds

Italy’s rescue operation Mare Nostrum shuts down with no real replacement. EU’s Triton instead might put lives at risk

Unity, regional cooperation and international support needed for Horn of Africa to develop sustainably

This is what is still holding social entrepreneurs back

MWC 2016 LIVE: The top 5 themes of this year’s Mobile World Congress

Me and China

‘Open, cordial, and frank discussions’ held over future Somalia-UN relationship

A dangerously hot climate, simmering political tensions: ‘This is not the summer of our youth,’ UN chief warns

A common fight against Antimicrobial Resistance: how can we react and what should we do

The European Commission and EU consumer authorities publish final assessment of dialogue with Volkswagen

Ukraine takes EU money and runs to sign with Russia

Disease slashing global meat output, cereals boom, bananas under watch: FAO

The essence of care is cosmopolitan

The Eurogroup protects Germany and blames others

ECB settles the bank resolution issue, makes banking union tangible

EU report: Implementation of reforms continues to bring EU and Ukraine closer together

A young student discusses the determinants of migration in the European Union

ILO: Unemployment to increase by 8.1 million in 2013-2014

Bold, innovative measures for refugees and their hosts sought, at first ever Global Forum

Parliament adopts new rules for short-stay visas

Whale populations are slowly recovering – this is why

Mergers: Commission prohibits Siemens’ proposed acquisition of Alstom

Six steps that can help us to tackle homelessness

Syrian Constitutional Committee a ‘sign of hope’: UN envoy tells Security Council

What’s going on in Chernobyl today?

G20 LIVE: World Leaders in Turkey for G20 Summit. Global Economy will be discussed in Antalya

Countries must invest at least 1% more of GDP on primary healthcare to eliminate glaring coverage gaps

Syria: A bloody tracer of Trump – Putin rapprochement

iSting: Change Europe with your Writing

German banks suffer of nausea amidst rough seas

It’s time to strengthen global digital cooperation

Unlock the value proposition for Connected Insurance

The implications of Brexit on European business, youth entrepreneurship and junior enterprises.

Taxes on polluting fuels are too low to encourage a shift to low-carbon alternatives

‘Ground Zero’: Report from the former Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan

Forget GDP – for the 21st century we need a modern growth measure

Four ways Europe can become a global innovation leader

Inclusion and diversity isn’t just good for employees – it’s good for the bottom line

Humans account for only 0.01% of life on Earth – but our impact has been immense

Here’s what you need to know about Bangladesh’s rocketing economy

Peace operations benefit from improved cooperation between the UN and troop-providing countries, says peacekeeping chief

Art, mental health and suicide: different strategies for increasing access to health services

North Koreans trapped in ‘vicious cycle of deprivation, corruption, repression’ and endemic bribery: UN human rights office

Over 80 per cent of schools in anglophone Cameroon shut down, as conflict worsens

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Women boost work profits, saving biodiversity, UK loses Chagos Islands vote, Gaza funding, malaria-free in Argentina, Algeria

Launch of Pact for Youth: European Youth Forum calls for real business engagement

How tech is helping the agriculture sector curb carbon emissions

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s