Tech Talk: Is Google Monopolistic In Its Search For Profits?

As many may already be aware, there is an ongoing argument about whether or not Google has become too big, powerful, and influential raging across several legal and socio-political spheres. It's an argument for which both sides have their merits and the issue itself appears to stem from several controversies the company has found itself embattled with over the past several years, with some calling the corporation a "monopolistic" entity akin to a monarchy. Meanwhile, on the other side of the argument, are those who see the company as doing what any company does by looking out for its own best interests. There is also an argument to be made for how the company is reacting in response to currently or recently being embattled on so many fronts. As with most controversial discussions, there is more underlying complexity than would allow for a simple or easy answer.

To begin with, Google has been at the center of several legal actions which have resulted in fines, penalties, or judicial redirection for the company and its services. In one case in Russia, for example, the company was recently forced to open up its proprietary browser for its Android operating system so that users could select a different search engine from their own. The leading argument, in that case, is that although users had the option to choose another browser entirely, there was simply not enough separation between Chrome and Google's separate search service. In another case, the E.U. determined that the search giant was in violation of antitrust rules. The ruling resulted in a judgment requiring the company to pay upwards of $2.9 billion in fines and to cease any and all anti-competitive practices. Tied to that case, are allegations that the company sought to and succeeded in removing a team of researchers and journalists from a Google-funded think tank called "New America" after the team released a statement applauding the E.U.'s decision. The group in question, collectively known as the "Open Markets" team, alleges that soon after the statements were made, Google demanded that all Open Markets members be removed from New America. That followed the cancellation of new hires to the Open Markets team, and New America President Anne-Marie Slaughter, for her part, says that the dismissals and cancellation had nothing to do with any demands made by Google.

Google's troubles also aren't just outside of its home country, either. The company has also recently been embroiled in controversy over its decision to let go of an employee over what has been labeled an "anti-diversity manifesto." It has been taking firm positions in socio-political arguments regarding immigration, regulation, and other heavily weighted topics. All of that could be pointed to as providing support to claims about Google and, within those arguments, there are plenty of valid points to be made about whether the company has gone too far in disallowing dissent, disagreement, or discussion. There is a lot there that flies directly in opposition to the company's now dropped motto, "Don't be evil." On the other hand, according to sources with ties to the New America think tank mentioned above, Google "did not always operate this way." In fact, Eric Schmidt - long time executive at Google and its parent company, Alphabet - was chairman of New America for 8 years, ending in May 2016. The Open Markets team was also with New America at that time but the combination of circumstances didn't result in any dismissals or other actions against members of the think tank.

With that said, all of the most recent actions taken by Google appear, at least on the surface, to be reactionary. The company has long-prided itself as a corporation that is willing to look out for the best interests of its users and employees. There are several Google projects - whether ongoing or that have now ultimately failed, such as the company's efforts to provide internet access to impoverished or underdeveloped parts of the world - which show a unique altruism. That's despite the fact that each of those projects would also have served to make the company quite a lot of money in the long run. For better or worse, Google has never been a company content with simply being a tech company. The problems that can create, one could argue, are primarily linked to just how big the company itself is. With hundreds of millions of users and customers, accounting for all of its various services and products, Google has a lot of interests it has set itself to protect. Some of those are bound to come into conflict. Moreover, since big organizations like Google could be described as living, breathing things, the drive to genuinely protect customers could easily result in a corporate self-image that places a high degree of importance on the company itself.

None of that is to say that the company hasn't had its missteps, but it may be premature to label Google as anything resembling either a monarchy or monopolistic. As happens with any big business under these types of circumstances, the company has been paying its legal dues for its missteps and perceived slights have, and will have, ramifications of their own that show through either growth or decline of its user-base. It is also at least as likely to change whatever is gaining it bad press as it is to undertake shady operations in order to silence the opposition. After all, if Google's main goal is to continue operating at increasing profit margins, it stands to reason that it would do whatever it can to promote its services and products within whatever legal bounds exist. It shouldn't come as a surprise if it periodically crosses those legal bounds while trying to determine what they are. At the same time, it's a safe bet that the company wouldn't want to go too far outside of those bounds, either, since that would jeopardize its popularity and profitability.

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About the Author

Daniel Golightly

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]
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