The European Commission has launched an antitrust investigation of Google, following complaints from rivals that the internet giant has used its dominant search engine to promote the company's other services. Google denies the allegations, and promises to work with regulators to "address any concerns." Competitors, including Microsoft, say Google gives "preferential treatment" to its own services in search results and lowers rankings for rival services. Is this a petty complaint or is Google on the brink of a reputation breakdown?
This isn't minor: "This could mean trouble for Google," says JP Manninen at Venture Beat, provided, of course, that investigators turn up hard proof that Google has been using "anti-competitive practices." The European Commission is no "pushover." It has taken on tech giants before, and fined Microsoft $794 million in 2004 over antitrust issues. Google will take this seriously if it's smart.
"Google under EU investigation over online ads"
The charges are trumped-up: Google is accused of pointing to its own services, says Jeff Jarvis at The Faster Times, but that's no crime — "that's business. Yahoo points to Yahoo;" The New York Times points to The New York Times; and Microsoft links to Microsoft. So?" This investigation isn't about fairness. It's just a sign that "anti-Googlism" is spinning out of control.
"Google vs. the EU and the New Anti-Googlism"
This is a growing pain for Google — and Facebook may be next: The folks at Google had to know this moment was coming, says Rory Cellan-Jones at BBC News. Any company that has Google's "power and dominance in a market" — it has a 90 percent share of parts of Europe — is bound to face scrutiny from antitrust regulators eventually. "How ironic that it's happening just as Facebook is beginning to challenge Google's status as a web superpower" — maybe Mark Zuckerberg should get a lawyer for his "turn in the firing line."
"Google vs. regulators: The battle begins"