AH Google Search-1

European Union Gives Reasons for Wanting to Separate Google from Search

November 22, 2014 - Written By Phil Bourget

Earlier this afternoon, we told you all about the massive move by the European Union’s Parliament that would attempt to split Google’s search engine nature from it’s commercial services like Google+ and YouTube, among the many others.  Well, the thing or two we didn’t know at that time was the existence of the motion, the goals, as well as the possible ramifications.  Now, however, we know the reasons behind the motion to split Google Search from the rest of the company.  Here’s a hint though: competition.

Europe has been heckling Google for the greater part of this calendar year due to its efforts to crack down in antitrust affairs, so that all companies in the EU can succeed and compete fairly.  One large thing that throws Europe off every time, this one included, is that Google is United States-based, not European.  This makes enforcing any actions and statements that they make difficult, ranging all the way to impossible, but nonetheless, this motion showed concerns over Google’s control over the European market.

Now, the reasons are ones we have heard brought up before in other antitrust actions by the EU against Google, so some may be repetitive.  First is the accusation that Google uses ‘vertical search results’, or results that favor its own services and lists them as results before any other competing services.  For instance, if you look up a restaurant, it will offer Google Maps, which is linked to Zagat, and Google+ reviews, then show off the Yelp, UrbanSpoon, and other reviews after.  Yeah, that makes sense as something Google would do, to promote its own services, just like Bing and Yahoo do when you search using them.  Google’s size makes this realistically problematic for competing services though.

Next on the list of grievances is the way that Google take other services’ content for results and uses them within its own.  It might have a Yelp review as the top review, but it could be the top review within Google Maps or Zagat.  This might be fine for a searcher, not having to look elsewhere to see reviews from multiple sites in one place, through Google, but it hurts the profit of the site whose information was used.  And as we all know, if it’s convenient, we’ll do it then be done

The next list item to mention is an odd one, and we’ll do our best to unpack it.  Google is accused of ‘shutting out search advertising competitors on websites where it delivers search advertisements’ according to Business Insider.  Now, the wording is a little odd, but here’s what it means.  If Google has an advertisement for an ad up across the top of a set of search results, apparently no results involving the advertised site actually register where Googlers look in the results listings.  That, however accurate, is due completely to the fact that the people using Search might not care to go somewhere just to enter the same query again.  And, if you consider it,  Google gave that site priority over the results, whether they feature Google services first or not.

And the final issue with Google is the fact that its service for advertising, AdWords, is hard to leave when desired.  If a company wants to not use AdWords to advertise any more, and instead use another company or service for the same purpose, it is apparently difficult to actually sever itself from the Google advertising service.  Now, it seems fair to have this as a concern, but it could just be a flaw in Google’s AdWords process, instead of an active attempt to corral and keep customers, and that isn’t preposterous, knowing how hard it is to remove yourself completely from some parts of the Internet, Google or otherwise.

The Google fan-favorite Eric Schmidt, the company’s executive chairman, has gone on record offering an explanation for the inclusivity of Google’s services within one another.  Schmidt has said that, “Put simply, we created search for users, not websites, and that’s the motivation behind all our improvements over the last decade.”  That seems like a great way to do business, but with the footprint that Google has in the EU, issues like these crop up.

Android is the operating system on three out of four new smartphones, and Google has a 90% market share in Europe, as compared to 68% in the States that it calls home.  Google control more of Europe than the United States, and crushes competition, intentionally or not, with small moves (and even some stagnation).  Google is in the European Union’s sights, and nobody can tell what will come of this except time.  Have you ever noticed any of the things that the EU has claimed Google has done?  If you are not completely invested in Google services besides email, Search / Now, and Android, how do you think this affects users like you?  Google may be doing good business, but might it be in the wrong way?  Let us know down below.