We first need to define exactly what FairSearch is. Fairsearch was originally started by a few travel sites; among them were Kayak, Expedia and Tripadvisor. Microsoft joined a short time later, and last year saw tech-gaints like Oracle and Nokia join up. The group now consists of 17 software, tech and internet companies that all have one thing in common: Google is their main competitor. What are the stated goals of FairSearch? FairSearch claims to be in favor of competition and innovation online. Yet every mention of a goal on fairsearch.org specifically mentions “search”. FairSearch has popped up into the news today because they have filed a complaint in the EU against Google’s “predatory distribution” of Android. How could distributing something for free be predatory? Great question.
What FairSearch actually does is provide a wall that Microsoft and other companies that provide competing products to hide behind as they lob grenades at the search giant. FairSearch isn’t a consumer advocacy group as they claim to be. FairSearch is a corporate lobbying group mashed together with a PR firm that seeks to engender ill-will towards Google. Fair Search is designed to constantly file complaints against Google with regulatory agencies in Europe and the US to create the illusion that Google is constantly in legal trouble, even though that isn’t really the case.
FairSearch is a well-funded, aggressive, and deceptive group of corporations who want to take down Google without actually creating superior products. FairSearch is a desperate gamble by companies who can’t offer products and services that are better than what Google gives all of us for free. FairSearch is probably the biggest threat to the open-source community in recent memory. FairSearch is not to be trusted.
But there is a grain of truth to the concerns that FairSearch’s members have. Google is indeed large, and powerful, and more and more of our data and web interaction are funneled through Google services every day. But is a group of corporations attempting to subvert a company that provides most of its services for free the answer? Of course not. The solution to this conundrum is us, the consumer. We need to stay vigilant and cautious no matter what company we are giving our page-views and ad clicks and dollars to. Consumers will decide when Google has overstepped its bounds, and we will react accordingly. FairSearch is not the answer because it doesn’t advocate for consumers, it advocates for companies that just can’t measure up to Google.