This is probably the first time in history, certainly the first time for Google, when they've been charged with offering products for free, and this is some kind of abuse. French authorities seems a little too protectionist with their local businesses, and it's not the first time they make ridiculous laws or decisions in order to protect some businesses there. But the question is, are they helping the users and most people in the country in general or just those businesses?
A maps application vendor in France sued Google for offering their Maps service for free, and it looks like the Court decided Google is guilty and should be a 500,000 euro fine for it. This obviously is not a big deal for Google, but what is a big deal is that now they might have to charge for their maps in France. I'm sure that will piss off a lot of people there, too.
But is this decision the right one? I don't think so. I mean, yes, Google does offer a lot of products and services for free, but they are providing a quality service for many people, and this is what Courts and the Government should be concerned with. The Government shouldn't have the job of protecting companies against more capable competition and against disruption, which seems to be the case in more and more countries these days, mostly because Governments want to side with local or big corporations.
But the point is they don't know whether Google makes a profit or not on Maps, and it's very possible that they do. It's just that they have a different business model than their competitors, which make money by charging directly for the Maps. Google makes money by charging for API's and from ads. So is the Government in the business of dictating Google's business model, too, now? Surprisingly, it's not the first time the French Government dictated how much a book should cost in France, so this is not completely new to them, but that doesn't make it any less ridiculous.
Hopefully, Google will find a way to fix this, without affecting regular users too much.