After weeks of rumors, the European Commission formally brought antitrust charges against Google yesterday. The primary complaint alleges that Google uses its domination of web search to favor its own services at the top of search results. The EU commission also released a separate antitrust investigation into the practice of bundling Android software with a full Google apps suite, reported The New York Times. Today, Google has gone on the defensive, firing back in two blog posts, one packed with statistics supporting Google’s claim that its search does not harm businesses, and another arguing that Android has actually increased consumer choice around the world. Google is basically saying: Hey, remember that mobile operating system that about 84% of the world uses? Yeah, that was us. For free. You’re welcome.
The EU antitrust suit alleges that Google uses its web search dominance (in Europe, Google accounts for 90% of searches, compared with 68% in the U.S.) to boost results for products or services that benefit Google. Google Search executive Amit Singhal’s blog post brushes off these complaints by saying that web users have more choice to access content than ever before, from Siri or Cortana-powered searches, a slew of other search engines, and specialty sites (like Amazon and eBay). Singhal also specifically addresses complaints from several sectors like travel (Expedia, TripAdvisor) and local search (Yelp), noting that over the last four years, revenue has grown for Expedia (revenue up 67%), TripAdvisor (revenue doubled), and Yelp (revenue up 350%). While not a comprehensive defense, all three of those companies aggressively pushed the EU into launching its antitrust investigation. In short, Singhal asks, how exactly has Google harmed these companies’ profits?
Google’s official rebuttal addressed the complaint that bundling new Android phones with Google’s app suite equates to antitrust–a complaint echoed back in February by Russia’s biggest search company, Yandex. The post says that, yes, it has always been okay to sell Android phones stripped of any Google apps–but do so at your peril, as Google’s app suite provides the same baseline services (like email and map navigation) that Apple’s and Microsoft’s phone suites provide on their respective phones. Plus, Android does not come with as many preloaded apps as iOS devices, the post points out. The post further states that Google paid $7 billion in revenue to developers and content publishers, and that competing apps from Facebook and Microsoft are freely available on the app store–and some come preloaded on Android devices alongside Google’s apps.
Google’s official post proceeded to defend its domination of news search results (which the EU Commission’s antitrust complaint did not actually address). Google also included statistics bragging about the amount of traffic that news sites The Guardian and Bild get from Google search–but promptly removed those numbers after catching flak over their accuracy.
[via Google Blog]