Google is a dangerous monopoly -- more than Microsoft ever was

The European Union's preliminary antitrust investigation of Google isn't the least surprising. But the timing is shockingly foreshadowing.

In December 2007, when Google announced the DoubleClick acquisition, I blogged: "The Google Monopoly Begins." I asserted that the acquisition would change everything about Google's search and advertising dominance and perceptions about the company's growing status as gatekeeper to all online information. The preliminary antitrust investigation comes as Google makes major changes to DoubleClick with hopes of boosting its display advertising business. The changes mark the final Googlefication of DoubleClick -- or the realistic, final integration of the acquisition into Google.

I don't believe in coincidence. More than two years ago, I asserted that DoubleClick marked the real beginning of the Google monopoly. The same week Google begins to flex that monopoly, the European Union starts informally investigating the information company. The European Competition Commission is taking seriously three competitor complaints, made by, according to a Google blog post: "UK price comparison site, Foundem, a French legal search engine called ejustice.fr and Microsoft's Ciao! from Bing."

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For clarification, after I posted, the European Commission released statement: "The Commission has not opened a formal investigation for the time being." Right. It's preliminary, subject first to Google's response about the three complaints. In the Google blog post, Julia Holtz, senior competition counsel, asserted: "We will be providing feedback and additional information on these complaints," presumably to the European Commission. Microsoft's antitrust problems in Europe started in the late 1990s from a single complaint made by Sun Microsystems (now absorbed into Oracle).

Coincidence or not, the European Union is starting too late. Too much has changed in Google's favor since December 2007. The acquisition should never have been approved by European regulators. The mess they'll be cleaning up is one they helped create. I blogged 26 months ago:

The Google monopoly could be prevented, just as the Microsoft monopoly could have been. To be fair, monopolies aren't necessarily bad, and they certainly aren't illegal in the United States. But Google is positioned to fulfill the decade-old predictions made about Microsoft but as a more dangerous and consumer harming monopoly. Google's monopoly would be over information, and there is just too much opportunity for abuse. DoubleClick significantly cranks up the potential volume of abuse.

Much has changed; since the DoubleClick acquisition was announced, Google:

  • Released the Chrome Web browser, which in less than 18 months reached version 5 beta.
  • Launched the Android mobile operating system, which sales rose 961 percent year over year in 2009.
  • Announced development of a new operating system -- Chrome OS -- for mobile devices, including netbooks.
  • Negotiated a deal (now being scrutinized) for making millions of books freely available online via Google search.
  • Increased search share on mobile devices, bolstered by new location-based search, local search, mapping and other services.
  • Erected a mobile applications stack, by leveraging together Android, Chrome, disparate Google Web applications and search services.

That's a short, condensed list. But their meaning simply stated:

1) Google is expanding a monopoly over Web search and arguably trying to extend it into several adjacent markets, including display advertising, desktop operating systems, mobile operating systems, mobile Web applications and Web browsers. Microsoft's antitrust problems started with leveraging its Intel-based desktop operating system monopoly into the market for Web browsers.

2) Google's free business model is disrupting many, major established informational industries by reducing their contents' value to zero -- subsidized by search and adjacent services from which Google profits. While analyst estimates vary, the most reliable put Google's online advertising share at about 90 percent in the European Union.

3) Recent Google activities raise serious questions about trust, such as Buzz privacy settings. Can Google be trusted with all this information? Buzz demonstrates Google's increased willingness to put its interests ahead of customers. Likewise, ongoing tweaks to the search and keyword business model, technology or terms of agreement put Google's interests before partners.

A Monopoly Matures

In my December 2007 post declaring the Google monopoly, I gave five reasons it matters. I'll reiterate four of them here:

Google is the information gatekeeper. The US Justice Department went after Microsoft in May 1998 partly out of fear the company would become the Internet's gatekeeper. That never happened with Microsoft, but it most certainly is occurring with Google. Its business is all about profiting from information. For years, I've argued that Google is not a search company. Google is an information company, with search being a means to an end -- the end being information around which the company sells keywords and advertising. Google's search share reaches 70-80 percent or more in some geographies, according to combined analyst reports.

Google's business is rife with conflict-of-interest. Google provides through search the road leading to a destination, then profits from many of the businesses established around it. Additionally, as I explained 26 months ago:

Google doesn't just offer search, but advertising, keyword search and demographic services around information and businesses pay for this stuff. DoubleClick will greatly enhance the latter activity. Marketers are hungry for demographic information, and they're willing to pay for it. Google provides the door, checks who's coming inside and can pass that information onto marketing paparazzi. The temptation to mine the information will be huge, and that temptation will increase as Google matures, its growth slows and its stock falls to earth.

Google leaches off the good work of others -- for free. As I explained 26 months ago:

Google produces nothing. Shall I repeat that statement? The company's core business is about search and advertising, which relies on the content of other people and businesses. Google doesn't own the information from which it makes nearly all its revenue. Google is the middleman of the information, which it takes for free. At least Microsoft produces software and makes money off the licensing. Microsoft owns what it sells, but not Google.

Google abuses the intellectual property rights of others. "Google's information grubbing ways come without any asking permission," I wrote in December 2007. "In one sense, people want their Web sites to be found, for information to be mined. But they're not compensated for something for which Google makes oodles."

Much has changed -- for the worse -- since Google announced the DoubleClick acquisition. A late-2009 Fair Syndication Consortium study found that over one 30-day period 75,195 Websites published unlicensed content lifted from newspapers. Additionally, 112,000 unlicensed "full copies of U.S. newspaper articles were found on sites across the Internet." The profit motive: Search-driven revenue, with Google accounting for "53 percent of the total monetization." Interestingly, "38 percent of the sites were ranked in the top 100,000 most trafficked sites." Google's business model essentially allows -- and even encourages -- further intellectual property abuse.Better stated: Stealing.

Wrapping up, Google is a dangerous monopoly. Being a monopoly isn't illegal in the United States, although in Europe it seemingly is so (because of weight given to competitor complaints). Being dangerous doesn't necessarily mean acting dangerously. But the potential is there. How dangerous a company do you see Google -- or not? Please answer in comments.

Some related posts putting the Google monopoly in context:

71 Responses to Google is a dangerous monopoly -- more than Microsoft ever was

  1. tannenwheel says:

    as all the governments are dealing with a certain overload and backlash caused by the polarization that characterizes them, the are regressing into more radical stages of psychological development and they will try to outlaw the internet, turn it into controlled TV kind of propaganda trash. google is supposed to become the most powerful entity of the internet. because google loves the internet. it's mental altitude is way above average. i am not aware of a single high-powered company in the world that is equally high spirited. its the agency of the internet's freedom. it will save the internet, when everyone else tries to destroy it. all the paranoid analytics from the bloggosphere who are suspicious about anyone who gets too much power are the very post modern pluralistic loosers who give up their own powers to the fundamental governments, and who take the power away from anyone who tries to keep in the world, so that the government can go and grab it all. the internet will not be something that stays fragmented and that is entirely designed by democratic wishes of its users. it will be controlled, it must be controlled, by a stage of developement, that is, not by nihilist hackers or illiterate presitdents. and google can control it's stage of development, as it can control the intelligence of it's employees. thus centralization in google or a similar idealistic company is the only quality control that humans are capable of achieving. understand mental altitude. and spare me with tons of those rants that prove nothing but that the goddess of internet tries to be the goddess. this is not a secret. google tells it to your face. and keep the same old stereotypical prejudiced interpretation that they "must be" evil and selfish and unidealistic, just because they want all the power. this is not analysis, it's limited horizon.

    please try to prove that their mental altitude is in fact not the highest, among all the sharks who actually try to get the power that google tries to save from them. if you have any vision logic at all. this would be helpful, as i have visionlogic but limited insight to details, so i can't be absolutely sure about how sacred google really is. i just know that they are the best of all the players that i know.

    an even a person without vision logic must intuit that microsoft is much worse than google, no? it's just they don't listen to that intuition, because they can't explain it yet, in a concrete fashion. don't tell me that google is "dangerous". being human is dangerous and creating a civilization and flying to the stars is dangerous. let's take off.

    • xave says:

      Err... Should I read the whole thing again ? Does the article's content change accordingly each time you change the title ?

  2. evan2k says:

    @JoeWilcox. Let's say that someone decided that Google is a monopoly and something needs to be done. What can that be? I don't see any easy solution, if Google becomes a monopoly problem.

    • ianbetteridge says:

      The same was said about Microsoft, of course. First, the EC can levy a heavy fine (potentially higher than the $633 million it hit MS with). Second, it can insist the Google sell its non-search/ads business (Android, Docs, and many more) at a fair market rate rather than giving them away. Third, it could insist on Google divesting non-core businesses.

      • evan2k says:

        The only money making thing Google has is search.Everything else just has the potential of being profitable in the future. I don't think fines are effective either. I mean with Microsoft a break-up (OS and Apps) was an obvious solution. With Google I am not so sure...

  3. Slipped it in says:

    Microsoft never was a dangerous monopoly. A monopoly yes, but Microsoft never abused their position. Everything Microsoft has done is perfectly legal. Governments like Europe's and others need to stop illegally fining companies.

    • ianbetteridge says:

      That's the point of the investigation. One point of fact: using a dominant position in one market to subsidise selling another product in another market at below cost has been found to be an abuse in the past in the EU (the case you might want to look up concern France Telecom selling broadband at below cost).

      Google has a dominant position in both search and online ad sales. It gives Android away for less than it costs to produce it. If the EC finds that it's doing so in order to cement or increase its share in search or advertising, it will be serious trouble.

  4. Artem S. Tashkinov says:

    What the hell you are talking about? Google has never been a monopoly, nor it'll never be.

    You can you yahoo or bing instead of google. You can use hundreds free e-mail services instead of gmail. You can use tens of online ad system instead of ad-sense.

    Why the hell you are BS'ing us?

    • orizng says:

      you can use linux or mac as well, instead of microsoft, you can use firefox, safari, chrome, instead of IE, you can use whatever local phone company, instead of ma bell.

      where do those monopoly case came from?

      you need to read about the definition of monopoly first.

  5. madmike says:

    Google are a monopoly, I have commented on this myself over the last few weeks before this thread. They accused Microsoft of being a monopoly and to a degree they were right, howerver time moves on and no Google are the monopoly. Heres hoping the EU gets to grips with them and gets them in order.

    • veeoh says:

      How are they a monopoly? Do they lock you into to using their services? Do they FORCE you to use gmail? Do they coerce you into using docs?

      No - how is this a monopoly?

      • ianbetteridge says:

        By the same definition, Microsoft was never a monopoly - you could always use other OS's.

      • Ecwfrk says:

        Not if you wanted to buy a computer from any of the major OEMs like Dell, HP, Gateway, etc. since Microsoft told them that if they sold computers with another OS, they'd stop licensing Windows to them.

      • therealbillybob says:

        Microsoft was never actually prosecuted for the OS monopoly, they were prosecuted for the web browser monopoly which they abused with their proprietary standards and ActiveX to force people to use IE if they wanted to browse most websites.

        They prevented new entrants by making it impossible to copy those lock-in technologies and tying the browser to special features in the server (EC Opera and US Netscape case).

      • RollDatKernelMyBrotha says:

        "They prevented new entrants by making it impossible to copy those lock-in technologies"

        Yes because Apple allows others to do the same?

        "tying the browser to special features in the server"

        As supposed to Apple tying OSX software to Apple hardware? As opposed to Android software tied to Android hardware?

      • RollDatKernelMyBrotha says:

        "Microsoft told them that if they sold computers with another OS, they'd stop licensing Windows to them."

        False:

        http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/ubuntu?c=us&l=en&cs=19

        http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001J6NNIA/ref=cm_rdp_product

        And you can also buy a PC without any OS whatsoever from some of the PC manufacturers.
        You can also format the drive and change your computer OS just as easy as changing search providers.

      • therealbillybob says:

        Those are recent developments, back in the early 2000's and late 90's, Microsoft was well know to have 2 prices, one for OEMs exclusive to Windows and another for non-loyal OEMs.

        OEMs should have been able to use other OSs for leverage, but it worked in the other way because Microsoft was powerful enough to affect the entire market.

        Microsoft know that they cannot get away with that sort of pricing any more. It is the sort of thing that recently got Intel into hot water.

      • Ecwfrk says:

        As Billy Bob pointed out, Dell didn't start offering Linux PCs until 2007 when Microsoft was no longer in much of a position to bully them.

        But I wasn't talking about 2007.
        http://alamo.satlug.org/pipermail/satlug/2002-March/000539.html

        "The Microsoft Corporation bullies computer makers by withholding discounts if they promote products that threaten its Windows monopoly, a former Gateway Inc. executive testified today on behalf of states seeking tough antitrust remedies against Microsoft.

        The executive, Peter Ashkin, said that the Justice Department's proposed settlement of the four-year-old case would not stop Microsoft from punishing computer makers like Gateway that develop rival products. The states called Mr. Ashkin to testify on the fourth day of what is expected
        to be eight weeks of court hearings on their demands.

        In 1999 and 2000, Microsoft reduced discounts Gateway received for the Windows operating system when Gateway developed an Internet-connection device and a network computer powered by the rival Linux system, Mr. Ashkin said."

      • RollDatKernelMyBrotha says:

        That's right Ecwfrk, the reason why Linux Desktop hasn't gained mainstream is because of: (take ur pick)

        Ballmer, Monopoly, Gateway, Ninjas, Alligator Wrestling, $tallman Toe jam, fiery coals with crushed glass (insert more excuses here for your amusement).

        I mean a Microsoft product surely can't stand on it's own merits when compared to Ubuntu RIIIIIIGHT??

        Just look at Linux version of Dia, this is so awesome!

        http://www.openxtra.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/dia_screen.jpg

        And look at Visio, WAY too much features and eye candy! Who needs that right?

        http://www.qweas.com/downloads/business/office-suites-tools/scr-microsoft-office-visio-professional-2007.jpg

        And here is evolution, it's almost like like outlook 97 (12 yrs ago)
        http://www.ubuntu.com/include/img/evolution.png

        And who really needs outlook 2010, OMG its evil ribbons GUI! We shouldn't move forward! keep it 1997 please!!

        http://www.winsupersite.com/images/office/office2010_outlook_preview.jpg

        That's right. Ubuntu is PERFECT! We don;t need Microsoft when we can have Hanna Montana Linux for everybody!

        Party like it's 1990's 4 EVA baby! Hanna Powa!

        http://hannahmontana.sourceforge.net/Site/About_files/hml.3.jpg

  6. agquarx says:

    We don't care about your supposed "stealing". If the newspapers can't deal with the Information Age, they need to go bankrupt and be replaced by so called "blogs" and other various forms of citizen generated news. All that Google does is going to do good for the Internet in the end (and they have to support those myriads of completely free services somehow, that's why they charge from those who ARE ABLE to pay, Google is really not a capitalistic, but Marxists company), and we love the Internet more than we love Apple. We, citizens of cyberspace, already declared independence. You, national states, are a way of the past. All you do is war, war, war. We know you well. Go, fall over and die! Welcome, citizens of the world!

    On the other hand: The EU investigation is stupid. Google is in no way a monopoly. Look at their Data Liberation Project, for example - does that look like works of a monopoly? Monopoly, whatever. And look who is complaining, fucking micro$oft (!!!). Another company that forgot it's 21 century since a decade. Why don't they do something right, except they don't know how and thus must die, die, die.

  7. veeoh says:

    Typical crock of shite from BN. Google isn't a monopoly - no one makes you use search, buzz, gmail, calendar, shopping etc etc. You do it because you WANT to.

    The definition of monopoly means you DONT get a choice.

    This is google bashing for google bashing sake.

    • ianbetteridge says:

      Veeoh, under EU competition law, if you have over 39.7% market share, you're regarded as having a dominant market position - which is a monopoly in legalese.

      • Ecwfrk says:

        According to my US legal dictionary a monopoly is: "exclusive control of a particular market that is marked by the power to control prices and exclude competition and that especially is developed willfully rather than as the result of superior products or skill."

        Search and all of Google's other business are competitive markets that Google dominates via "the result of superior products or skill" as opposed to economic barriers (where they can cut prices to eliminate competition, like the large retail stores such as Walmart have done to virtually eliminate individual retailers), control of resources (like utilities) or deliberate action (like Microsoft).

        Since there are no Barriers to Entry in any of Google's business besides the ability to produce a superior product as pretty much anyone can (and many have) create a search engine or browser, Google would hardly qualify as a monopoly in the more generally accepted sense of the word.

      • therealbillybob says:

        "Veeoh, under EU competition law, if you have over 39.7% market share, you're regarded as having a dominant market position - which is a monopoly in legalese."

        Can you point to that specific law? And also an explanation of how we would measure search engine market share in a way that can be used in court.

    • orizng says:

      buzz is opt-in by default, your choice is optional.

      and that, my friend, is monopoly.

      • fbsduser says:

        I think you're wrong. Buzz isn't activated by default. To use it you need to enable it first.

  8. typongtive says:

    Does Joe ever write articles that favor other companies other than Apple? If so I must have missed them.

  9. Ecwfrk says:

    "Google is the information gatekeeper."

    They aren't the Gatekeeper. They're just shoes everyone chooses to wear to walk through the gate. Bing, Yahoo, and anyone else who wants to has no barriers to compete with Google besides finding a way to get people to want to use them over Google. Microsoft forced OEMs like HP, Dell and Gateway to make it so people didn't have a choice. Google just makes it so people choose them over others. So long as they don't make it so Google.com is only accessible via Chrome on the Google OS on an Android, they're nothing like Microsoft tried to be.

    Everything else mentioned pretty much boils down to whether you find the concept of opt-out rights protection "dangerous" or not. Personally, I find it has worked well with web content and fully endorse Google's efforts to expand it to other media. It's much preferable to the early days where you had to beg (or pay) Yahoo to get listed or before that when you had to pay one of those Internet Phone Books that were sold at Egghead.

    And if you don't want Google to "leech" your good work, you can use robots.txt, noindex meta tags, and/or Google's URL removal tool and they will happily comply with your wish to not have them use your content for their business. From a pratical standpoint, opt-in rights protect

    Honestly, this article has about as much journalistic integrity as the one that decried Windows 7's memory usage as "alarming". It's overblown scaremongering with very little basis in reality.

  10. orizng says:

    i have this feeling as well. Thanks for writing it up.

    I have since switched to bing search and bing map, plus yahoo mail.

    • therealbillybob says:

      It is amazing how you could switch so quickly and easily when Google has a so-called monopoly in search.

      • RollDatKernelMyBrotha says:

        You're right.

        before I could put ubuntu on my newly purchased laptop without an OS, I had to wrestle an alligator, walk over fiery coals with broken glass, and push an elephant uphill before I could format my computer and put hanna montana Linux.....but she was worth it!

      • orizng says:

        @ therealbillybob: yeah, just like how easily you can switch from IE to firefox, why did EU even bother with microsoft then?

      • therealbillybob says:

        It is hard to switch to Firefox if all the sites you rely on are using proprietary MSHTML and your browser does not work properly, it is hard for browsers to compete when Microsoft controls the game. That was the exact complaint that Opera made.

        Search engines all use HTML and HTTP for delivering search results and there is even a standard so you can replace your search box on any browser. There is no barrier to switch at all.

        I remember in around 2001-2002, switching to Firefox (Pheonix) was actually quite hard (and Linux even harder). A lot of websites told you that your browser was not IE so would not work. Things are much better since Firefox got over 10% market share so websites could not ignore it.

      • Niro says:

        "It is hard to switch to Firefox if all the sites you rely on are using proprietary MSHTML and your browser does not work properly, it is hard for browsers to compete when Microsoft controls the game. That was the exact complaint that Opera made."

        yea...because MS designed all those web pages -rolling eyes-

        Oh wait that's not right...they threatened the lives of web admins so they would have to design pages to work with IE and not work with all other browsers...how could I have missed that!!

      • RollDatKernelMyBrotha says:

        That's right Niro,

        Web developers NEVER (rollie pollie eyes) check their websites up against Firefox/Chrome/Opera/etc, they only test them in IE and THAT'S IT.

        In order to check them against other browsers, you have to:

        a.) wrestle an alligator
        b.) walk over fiery coals with broken glass
        c.) push an elephant uphill
        d.) eat toe jam from $tallman's foot

        Heck, they don't even make a Firefox plugin that you can switch rendering engines on the fly in case of an IE specific site.....oh wait!...

        http://ietab.mozdev.org/

        (hand ...face...palm)

  11. therealbillybob says:

    It is interesting to see that both the companies involved in the complaint have strong relations to Microsoft (one actually is Microsoft).

    The Foundem case seems like a joke. We have seen this sort of case heard and thrown out before.

    The Bing case also sounds like something we have seen before. It sounds like they are complaining because Google is unfairly using snippets from their websites. The solution to that problem is just exclude Google via the robots.txt file.

    Microsoft should be dragged up in front of the EC for trying to abuse the legal system for their own gains.

    Of course the EC are taking complaints seriously, it is what they are supposed to do.

  12. therealbillybob says:

    "Google produces nothing. Shall I repeat that statement? The company's core business is about search and advertising, which relies on the content of other people and businesses."

    What a load of old-media nonsense. Google produces a search engine which after 10 years nobody has come anywhere near the quality of, they link that to a relevant contextual high-quality ad service. Then they produced an infrastructure to support it for such a low cost that they give it away for free.

    Not to mention all of the other open source projects which they give away.

    Joe, you clearly have no respect for programmers if you think that they produce nothing. Why don't you look at the source code for Go and then claim that your poorly edited, poorly researched blog posts are so much better.

    • RollDatKernelMyBrotha says:

      "Not to mention all of the other open source projects which they give away."

      Please give me the source code for google search, blogger and google apps

      http://www.kroah.com/log/linux/android-kernel-problems.html

      "This means that any drivers written for Android hardware platforms, can not get merged into the main kernel tree because they have dependencies on code that only lives in Google's kernel tree, causing it to fail to build in the kernel.org tree. Because of this, Google has now prevented a large chunk of hardware drivers and platform code from ever getting merged into the main kernel tree."

      http://tmrepository.com/trademarks/googlerunsonlinux/

      "Google use linux internally and according to the GPL dont need to make public any changes they make to linux internally. The result, Google runs a version of linux so customized, it can barely be called linux. They use their own filesystem,webserver etc etc. Google, however, thanks the greater linux community by not releasing a port of their web browser for linux , by killing of their picasa for linux effort (which was just a wine hack anyway),purchasing Gizmo5 and eliminating their linux offerings"

    • dhjdhj says:

      Actually I think Google's search engine has become much more noisy recently --- much harder to find what I want than it used to be.

  13. tomswift2 says:

    Yes, Google is the new Microsoft, there is no doubt about that. And indeed having a better execution they have a potential to do much more harm.

  14. Viking369 says:

    This whole "free economy" thing is just such a crock of scheisse... The more apt description i find that free is used as a weapon to get others to just freely forfeit their crown jewels or in some cases to attack rival's flanks. Microsoft weaponized free with the browser years ago, so it's not exactly new.

    What's new is that Google and other web 2.0 bubble kids are just preaching it as an economic paradigm shift.

    Personally, I give it a decade, tops, before the steam runs out and people realize that "Oh crap, businesses actually need to make money selling goods and services in order to buy AdWords."

    • therealbillybob says:

      Oh yeah, because of the internet people will start eating free virtual food, driving free virtual cars and reading their free virtual books. Then nobody will own anything because it will all be free.

      Are you suggesting that Google should have to charge for their search and email, even though they entered both markets where the price was already free? Maybe there should be a law stating all services which could not be paid for by adverts? A lot of newspapers would be affected by that, so maybe only for online businesses?

      You could say the same thing about free-to-air TV stations. They never seemed to have an impact on the paid ones. In fact the free providers are the ones having trouble.

      • Viking369 says:

        Hey bbob, I'm stating that Google is using free to disrupt others and needs others to give out their goods for free to place Ads next to it.

        The clearly obvious thing though is that this isn't some new economic model (as is so often claimed) but instead it's advertising business claiming the internet as solely it's own.

        Finally, i'm stating that it's going to run out of steam because the market for ads (in sum dollars) is dependent on the marketers and their audience - NOT on the available ad space. Once the ceiling is hit and the market only grows with the population, more ad space will just naturally divide the same pool of dollars into smaller chunks.

        Meanwhile Google is doing scorched earth warfare in adjacent industries. Put those two together and one can see where the trajectory either starts pointing back down to earth or the information collected by Google must be abused in order to grow revenue.

  15. romath says:

    'Tis one of the pitfalls of capitalism: one's business model is designed to take the air out of someone elses, and there are no mechanisms for adjusting how the market and distribution work for shor- or long-term collective benefit, short of very late, half-baked measures - to the extent they even exist or are politically allowed to be used. Not particularly rational.

    • therealbillybob says:

      "Tis one of the pitfalls of capitalism: one's business model is designed to take the air out of someone elses"

      This is not a pitfall of capitalism, it is not written that the idea of capitalism is to kill off all the competition so that you can make excessive profits. I think it is a generation grown up with Microsoft that thinks it is the way it is always done.

      Apple and Google seem to cooperate without constantly trying to kill each other. There is such a thing as friendly competition.

  16. Looey says:

    I think Joe Wilcox's description of Google is right on the money. Google is using profits from a dominant position in the search advertising market to drive other businesses out of markets they want to move into. They take what they want. Once they have driven everyone else out of business they will either have to start creating or go out of business themselves. The newspapers, TV, magazines, radio and all other traditional forms of news and entertainment can't stay in business unless they make a profit. Why is it some people think it is OK for Google to make billions in profit when their local newspaper, radio and TV stations are laying off and having a hard time staying open? I would rather read, hear or see information delivered to me by professionals who happen to live in and are familiar with my home town than some far off goof writing or blabbing away in a blog. Google is part of the FCC's move to buy the over the air wavelengths from broadcasters so they can use the extra frequencies to cram more crap on to smart phones that some people are tethered to. Google will make more profits and doesn't care about anyone who is left in the dust. When are people going to get tired of all this? It is substandard behavior by a company who professes to do no harm.

    • therealbillybob says:

      "Why is it some people think it is OK for Google to make billions in profit when their local newspaper, radio and TV stations are laying off and having a hard time staying open?"

      It is the march of progress. Why should some industries be protected by law just because we like having them around? Would you prefer that Google never existed?

      Who is to say the world would not be better without newspapers and TV? From what I can see newspapers always have a bias and are owned by nastier companies than Google and TV stations are little more than propaganda machines.

      • Anastasia2007 says:

        Your cool with it as long as Apple makes the profit.. I know you! ;)

      • Tenoq says:

        Except Google is using that content to profit - so when the local newspaper closes down Google actually HAS no information to steal and supply...

        Diversity of media is a Good Thing. I'd hate to see it killed off by a single information company. And I say that while using Google News regularly (it's the best way to get the 'full' story on any particularly topic).

  17. reidyn says:

    The definition of "Monopoly" seems to be unclear to some. Monopoly has nothing to do with having a majority of the market, or opting people into a new service through one of your existing ones, or even offering a massive variety of different product offerings. It has everything to do with being the only viable player in a given market. In every single product offering by Google, other players exist. In all but search, others have a greater share.

    Android? There's the iPhone, Windows Mobile, Symbian, Memeo, Blackberry -- and Android isn't even the leader. Chrome OS? Not even a product yet. Google Docs? Microsoft Office, and the variety of other free web-based office apps. GMail? Try Yahoo, Live Mail, or an assortment of others. Chrome Browser? There is IE, Firefox, Opera, Safari, and others. Chrome is still tiny in this product offering. Search? Bing is competent even if you don't prefer it, and Yahoo still offers their own search engine. There are others as well. There aren't any substantial barriers to entry here. There aren't any barriers to switching in any of these product lines. Nothing about Google is at all a monopoly.

    Google is gaining in usage of many of these products because those products are working well for a growing number of end users. It isn't because there are no other players. It isn't because Google is coercing anyone. Having a good product and attracting users that way isn't monopolistic.

  18. therealbillybob says:

    Maybe because Microsoft made it their mission of the 90's to kill every company that tries to compete with them?

    All complaints have a right to be heard, Microsoft lost many times because they were in the wrong. Google has not even been accused of anything yet.

    You can 'go after' whoever you like, it is up to the judges to decide if your complaint is valid, but I think if you try to manipulate the courts then you should be fined.

    • RollDatKernelMyBrotha says:

      "Maybe because Microsoft made it their mission of the 90's to kill every company that tries to compete with them?"

      That's right. Back in 1990, they hired Ninja assassins from the Iga and Koga clan to take out Wordperfect/Lotus/Novell. It was a freaking horror show. Their heads were impaled like VLAD the impaler and Ballmer and Gates were eating their enemies' brains for dinner.

      Microsoft didn't do anything like create better software solutions or learn from their mistakes.
      They just kept sending Ninja assassins to anyone that opposed.

  19. JeremyGNJ says:

    As usual, most people here have mistaken where the monopoly lies. It's not about being a monopoly in terms of "teenagers searching for stuff on the web", it's a monopoly in terms of "advertisers only have so many places online to advertise".

    Imagine if one company owned 70% of the billboards on all US and State roads? Would that be a monopoly? Sure you could find cheap advertising rates on the billboard in front of the local church, but when it comes to meaningful advertisement, that company could charge a premium.

    Then imagine that they put their own billboards right in front of someone else's billboard so you couldnt see it.

    That is what Google is doing to newspapers and magazines.

  20. slumbergod says:

    Google doesn't bother me at all. I didn't appreciate the privacy screw ups with Buzz but as long as I have the choice over what services I use it comes down to freedom. There are other search engines to choose from. I never see any advertising because I filter it all out. I hate m$ in the past so I exercised my choice and switched to Linux. Maybe people should just change if they don't like something.

  21. therealbillybob says:

    And XBox 360

  22. besh32 says:

    This is what the information revolution is all about. There will be many losers and eventually new players. Do you want Google to charge money for their free services? They might do that, but you might not like it.

  23. PatrynXX says:

    Microsoft is still a monopoly, just not as bad as it was. Saying Google is bigger means whoever is researching has severe memory loss.

  24. mjm01010101 says:

    Article may have some good points, but you really need to expand on many of them, Joe. This article should be 10x longer.

  25. DatabaseBen says:

    what's the point in being a giant corporation if it cannot swallow up all the little guys in the way?

  26. NormanC says:

    Oh Joe, you are so brilliant! Just a little over two years ago who would have thought that Google was a major player and gaining momentum with their free services?

    Of course, there is no way they could have released Chrome, Android, Books, or any other service if they did not acquire Doubleclick. Your article is weak.

    I'm looking forward to their future growth.

  27. kashin says:

    Interesting article, although I wish the author would stop giving himself auto fellatio throughout the whole thing. I said this, I said that, I predicted this, I knew that would happen, etc. What are you, Nostradamus all of the sudden? Next time try writing an article with your inflated ego nicely tucked away in a closet. Kthxbye.

  28. taxis says:

    I am no expert on monopolies, but it seems to me that there is a fundamental difference between Google and Microsoft: Microsoft used the popularity and ubiquity of its OS Windows to push software that would otherwise be less popular, e.g. by integrating IE and Outlook into the operating system without giving the user the choice to uninstall it, or by (previously, not anymore) forcing the user to use it as their standard browser/mail client - even though they were slower/buggier than the competition. Also, a large portion of the popularity of Windows/MS Office was the issue that switching the operating system/document format would break compatibility with many applications, so people tended to stay with MS products not because they were hallmarks of innovative or even solid development, but because they had no other choice.

    Google services may have many drawbacks and risks for the user (especially concerning privacy issues), but they frequently improve on what others have done in the respective areas (usefulness of the search engine, speed of Chrome, usability of general products), so they are chosen voluntarily by their users. To produce popular software is no crime, and I don't see any danger in it, since anyone who offers better services could win the market back. It is no crime to be successful as long as you play fair.

    • RollDatKernelMyBrotha says:

      Hey Taxis, how is foobar20000 running on ur "windo$e"

      http://www.betanews.com/profile/taxis

      typical hypocrite F$F $hill

      • taxis says:

        Foobar2000 works quite nicely, certainly much better than Windows Media Player, but what is your point?

    • RollDatKernelMyBrotha says:

      "people tended to stay with MS products not because they were hallmarks of innovative or even solid development, but because they had no other choice."

      (sarcasm) Yes MS can't create good products. Windows 7 just pales in comparison with Hanna Montana Linux, a world class mainstream distro for grandma and me.

      "by integrating IE and Outlook into the operating system"

      Outlook was integrated into the OS? Factual Fail Man.

  29. IT advisor says:

    Isn't Google more fragile than may first appear? It's whole empire is built upon an algorithm. Its search algorithm.

    We once thought Yahoo was unassailable. Now Yahoo has fallen so easily.

    Unlike Microsoft, Google doesn't control file formats. Google just has its algorithm, which could easily be dislodged, just like Yahoo was dislodged. All it takes is a competitor to come along with a better way of searching.

  30. Does the FTC know that Google's deal with Harris Corporation gave it certain access to the Malibu media placement platform that Spot Runner dumped earlier this year?  Did Google guide the hand of Harris, as it may have done with Motorola in the Skyhook case (prior to its acquisition of Moto)?  Has the FTC subpoenaed the phone and e-mail records of Google and Harris?  Is Google attempting a de facto advertising monopoly which, in the end, will compromise Broadcast and cable TV networks and drive up advertising costs for all advertisers?  A chill is running down the spines of Internet-based companies as a heartless Leviathan runs roughshod over rights, freedoms and domestic and international commerce.  Let's all implore the FTC to search for a potential pile of skeletons in Google's digital closet.

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