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Does Google Have a Search Monopoly?
Altair




msg:3256953
 4:33 pm on Feb 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

There is a report on the net, “Unbreakable Google Monopoly”, which suggests that although Google does not yet have a monopoly position in total search traffic or market share, Google does have a sole-source monopoly as the only system capable of “high quality” search, and that this situation will only get worse.

The report cites factors like Google’s overwhelming advantage in obtaining tracking data and their unique capability for successfully running advertising on smaller, lower quality, web sites. Both are cited as interlocking factors in enabling Google to filter spam and deliver high quality search results in a way that cannot be matched by a competitor. A number of other factors are also described.

The idea is that it is essentially impossible for a competitor to even approximately match Google in search and that Google therefore has a functional monopoly in “high quality” search. Google might therefore meet the definition of “monopoly” in that there is no close substitute and in that there are major barriers to entry of a successful competitor. Eventually, this problem might have to be solved by regulation.

To me, although I use Google, MSN search and Yahoo search certainly seem, superficially at least, to be pretty comparable to Google. One would think that relatively unsophisticated users would not see that much difference. And yet Google seems to be able to attract those users. Hmmmm?

 

Quadrille




msg:3257241
 9:20 pm on Feb 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

While you have a clear choice - and a good proportion of people exercise that choice, then Google does not have a monopoly.

Critics are, of course, prone to exaggerate.

But Google does have a strong postion, and most 'industry sources', when pushed, would agree that in many ways, Google is ahead of the competition.

Once upon a time, you could have said the same about Alta Vista. A new rival could come along; M$N or Y! could overtake.

But they have to contend with the inertia factor, as well as 'be better'. But first, they have to be better.

Look at Google's history; they came from nowhere, with two 'gimmicks' - a clean front page, and a claim to be fast. They were fast, and they were 'clean'; but they were also 'cool' when the opposition was corporate, and front pages tended to be crowded, sad commercial messes. Sorry, 'portals'.

Next time, it may be different, who knows?

kidder




msg:3257276
 9:58 pm on Feb 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think the question should be "how healthy is it to have one player so dominant" -

Biggus_D




msg:3257280
 10:08 pm on Feb 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well, in some european countries Google has more than 90% of the search market.

europeforvisitors




msg:3257287
 10:28 pm on Feb 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Why don't you just 'fess up and tell us that it's your article, since it's from the site that you list in your user profile?

There's nothing wrong with grinding axes here, but please don't try to fool us by referring to a "report on the net" that you published yourself. :-)

kevsh




msg:3257291
 10:29 pm on Feb 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

IDC is supposedly releasing a report that shows that the big search engines combined only get 30% of overall search queries.

So that says to me that if Google is a monopoly among search engines, it's not a monopoly over searching overall and far from it. For whatever that's worth.

Swanson




msg:3257297
 10:40 pm on Feb 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Quadrille, I totally agree.

I think the problem is in the "be better" equation as that includes a whole host of factors - when you put all the features and facets together it is as they say in the music business the "X factor".

By itself it is hard to quantify a "better search engine" - it is about the look, attitude, angle, ethos, coolness, difference, hearsay, etc etc. It is all about creating the "illusion" of a brand and then delivering on the technology part.

With the advent of myspace etc. it is totally about being "of the moment" - and i don't think the traditional brands of Yahoo and MSN are yet positioned to be in that zone. Although you can see that MSN are really trying to change by creating a whole new brand (not aligned with the techie stereotype) called "live.com".

And that is the best bet at the moment - it is about being able to create a brand that appeals to the masses and having enough momentum (or buying power) to distribute the message.

You don't need the "best" product to win - you need the "Impression" of the best product.

Is it a battle that is worth winning though - there is more money in creating other kinds of mindshare surely? To me the future is not search for these companies - it is the destination sites that they go to when performing a search.

Own the big "mindshare" sites a la Myspace, Bebo, Youtube etc. - then you really are looking good!

dgonigam




msg:3257314
 11:05 pm on Feb 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google has added a tremendous amount of consumer surplus to society given that it's a FREE service. I don't think it's in the public interest to regulate it (maybe censorship). Much regulation in the past has either been over price discrimination or negative externalities, which google does neither in excess.

Whitey




msg:3257331
 11:36 pm on Feb 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

It depends on the accepted definition, and lawyers love to argue a definition :)

Generally a monopoly is not what the market "decides" or "chooses" but what proportion of the "market" any individual business or group of linked business' has.

From the point of view of "market power" and the use of that power .... i guess this is a local jurisdictional matter. We may have our opinions, but $$'s may determin the outcome.

Microsoft and big corporates have good strategies in place to defend any assertion that they are a monopoly and thus dominate trade.

fraudcop




msg:3257351
 12:12 am on Feb 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think google is helping create monopolies.

listing 200 million urls of ebay and and 1-2 urls of each ebay competitors google created a monopoly and destroyed the ecommerce market.

Next we will have 200 million myspace urls and 200 million youtube urls

Quadrille




msg:3257560
 8:34 am on Feb 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

So Google is reflecting reality; if they interfered by reducing ebay's listings or Myspace's, that would be manipulating the market.

If ebay has a monopoly, then the same question arises; why?

And the same answer - because no-one has come up with abetter (or even seemingly better) solution. New auction sites appear monthly, all claiming to be better than ebay; very one I've seen is cr*p.

If they had the sense to say "Hey, we're new and we're still learning", you'd maybe have some sympathy. But no - they all claim to be better. Ebay has it easy because it has no competition.

Myspace has plenty of competition, and will be displaced withing a year or so.

And all nothing to do with Google. Nor is the weather ;)

night707




msg:3257677
 12:58 pm on Feb 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

something will come to grab a share from G, Yahoo, MSN. They are too similar and not always very good.

mattg3




msg:3257702
 1:32 pm on Feb 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

If ebay has a monopoly, then the same question arises; why?

Early start, right location and people tend to have not a big memory. In a clearly global market with no restrictions that leads again and again to only very few occupying a niche.

Bit like if everyone could reach your local supermarkets the earliest and biggest would likely win. Google then enhances this process by listing them as the most popular on page one and you have monopoly building and price dumping on a scale never seen before. Average salary floats towards zero for most people outcompeting everyone. So very few companies collect in this massive pyramid scheme enough money on free labour (forum posts, content on hard crafted websites, wikis, image rating). This massive inflation then reinforces that your chances to compete with this inflation mania are near zero, unless you started early. We do OKish, but we started in 1996. That you have to pump out 7.6 million pages to a nation of 80 million excluding robot traffic to employ 2 is near ridicolous. If the Google share wouldn't be as good as it is with all the other affiliates that would have to be 70 million.

On the other hand if there would be more worthwhile competition how to monetise your content the numbers wouldn't have to be so ridicolously high to actually live of it. I have a content site. Maybe if you have sales, things are different.

Quadrille




msg:3257715
 1:43 pm on Feb 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

The 'system' always favours the well established, always makes it harder for newcomers to reach critical mass.

Just means they have to 'try harder'; things still change, just not always as fast as you'd like.

If people think that (for example) Google should take it on it self to regulate the market to make it fairer, which apsiring auction company should they favour? How can they possiby know?

No-one knows who will take Google's place; we just know that (one day) it will happen, sure as eggs are eggs.

I was just reading another thread, and it reminded me; there are people out there who still believe Ask will be the new Google; heck, I know of one guy who [still!] believes that Looksmart will bounce back and knock Google off its perch.

Makes you almost want a Google monopoly, doesn't it? :)

mattg3




msg:3257734
 1:59 pm on Feb 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

something will come to grab a share from G, Yahoo, MSN. They are too similar and not always very good.

You'd need masses of money and appeal to human laziness. You could find everything you wanted with altavista. People like prechewed results.

So masses of money + appealing even more to human laziness and a way to channel traffic. I can only see Microsoft being able to do that. They default to live.com in their new browser and I think in Vista. Yahoo seems dead in the water especially as they won't drop their overly cluttered homepage that especially europeans think is to overcommercialised.

Google fast, uncluttered. People want results yesterday, they don't give a damn about beauty design. Unless ebay, myspace are beauty design winners in some peoples eyes.

Yahoo recently launched their new email software .. horrible, overcluttered and you need magnifying glasses. Ok they tried to do the outlook thingy, but it failed.

The only chance we really have is that Google keeps on doing their "yet another lame service to slap ads on" campaign. Gmail was still genius after that it went downhill. Unfocused unstable. Still in search it will only be MS that can compete. That would be great .. err not. Unless you find another billionaire that wants to gamble it all.

[edited by: mattg3 at 2:18 pm (utc) on Feb. 20, 2007]

mattg3




msg:3257754
 2:16 pm on Feb 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

The 'system' always favours the well established, always makes it harder for newcomers to reach critical mass.

Yes of cource but this is enhanced on the net as all regulations are off, reach is global. It means less niche enforcement as there are only limits in language not space. There are many newsagents as very few will pop into the city centre just to get a soft drink. On the net they pop to anywhere. Less niches, more and faster growing monopolies. And politicians are techno dumb. Happened with MS now it's happening with Google. At least Google is a company. Wee pseudo socialist singularities like Wikipedia, really drive the content value inflation then into the abyss. Google seems to want to enforce a web of rich peoples hobby sites and for all that can't make a server on their own there is Wikipedia that hoovers in the rest.

Maybe the future really lies in China. :) One of their search engines was sucking in pages like their was no tommorrow.

Quadrille




msg:3257894
 4:44 pm on Feb 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wikipedia has it's problems (like quality control), but it remains a success; proof indeed that a big idea can come up on the outside, with limited cash.

People in these forums have seriously offered wikipedia as the successor to Google.

er, no. Wikipedia isn't a search engine, actually. ;)

Even Google rose from nowhere with a (fairly) small budget. I agree with you that the Internet can 'bury' the little man ... but just as easily it can pick out an idea from nowhere ... theminingcompany, Google, ebay, napster, wikipedia, myspace, youtube - I dare say I've missed one or two!

It's all possible.

[edited by: Quadrille at 4:50 pm (utc) on Feb. 20, 2007]

Altair




msg:3257934
 5:26 pm on Feb 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think the question should be "how healthy is it to have one player so dominant" -

Yes -- I think the issue of monopoly is much more important if the company is in the information business. The FCC used to have rules that one entity could only own a few TV stations (I think it was nine) nationwide. Nine stations was not a monopoly by any other definition. To me it is scarry that two guys have total editorial control over what information "high quality" search users get to see.

Kevsh: According to Neilsen//Netratings (on searchenginewatch) Google and AOL search (Google partner) have about 56 percent, Yahoo 24 percent and MSN Search 10 percent of total searches.

Our experience is that the referrals (clicks) a large established site gets from various search engines seem to follow this proportion pretty well. However, Google seems to be much more important for smaller, newer sites where a much larger proportion of the referrals come from Google. I think this is because Google actually indexes a lot more pages and sites than the others. Our experience is that new pages generally appear on Google well before they appear on the others.

mattg3




msg:3257947
 5:37 pm on Feb 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wikipedia has it's problems (like quality control), but it remains a success; proof indeed that a big idea can come up on the outside, with limited cash.

Offering free anything will be a success. The question is why does Google support something that destroys the monetary value of content, while it makes money of content?

People in these forums have seriously offered wikipedia as the successor to Google.

er, no. Wikipedia isn't a search engine, actually. ;)

"Jimbo Three Yachts Wales" wants to open a search engine.. There is a thread in the Google business folder about it.

So Google is either mad or has some master strategy to further dump the value of content to still link them at #1 for everything know to man.

Fine users find it useful, as free money would be useful, but Jimbo wants more yachts and is getting bigger in his boots.

Rich people like free stuff without ads, so there will be plenty of rich kids that would make a free search engine, hand ranked links. Had the idea myself, and implemented it, takes you day, but Jimbo has the traffic, so Google is playing with fire imo. All you need to do is to grab all the links from the WP pages and make a search engine with nutch. Link each site to a wiki and let users discuss if that page should be in the index. No algorithms no spam, Google would be gone within half a year.

Voila free search engine with hand picked links. If I say this nobody gives a damn, but if Jimbo says it the wikipedians will follow him. ;)

Why don't you try wikiseek, saves you the discomfort of having spammy Google results and wikipedia is always on top like in Google.

Altair




msg:3257965
 5:57 pm on Feb 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

With the advent of myspace etc. it is totally about being "of the moment" - and i don't think the traditional brands of Yahoo and MSN are yet positioned to be in that zone. Although you can see that MSN are really trying to change by creating a whole new brand (not aligned with the techie stereotype) called "live.com".

And that is the best bet at the moment - it is about being able to create a brand that appeals to the masses and having enough momentum (or buying power) to distribute the message.

You don't need the "best" product to win - you need the "Impression" of the best product.

Is it a battle that is worth winning though - there is more money in creating other kinds of mindshare surely? To me the future is not search for these companies - it is the destination sites that they go to when performing a search.

Own the big "mindshare" sites a la Myspace, Bebo, Youtube etc. - then you really are looking good!

Yes exactly. It is a whole lot cheaper to look into "impression", and "image", and "looking good", and "appealing to the masses", than it is to buy 150,000 servers and spend a lot on AI software in an attempt to catch up to Google. The attempt is likely to be futile anyway. In my opinion, Yahoo and MSN have already given up.

So Google is and will remain a sole-source monopoly for "high quality" search.

The only problem is I NEED high quality search! Apparently, so do a lot of other people. High quality search has become an essential business and educational tool not just entertainment like Youtube.

trinorthlighting




msg:3257999
 6:23 pm on Feb 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

No, they do not have a monopoly as defined by US law. They do have the biggest marketshare, but not a monopoly.

Altair




msg:3263321
 5:28 pm on Feb 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

I guess "monopoly" is not the right word. According to the report, Google is the sole source of a certain kind of search service that is in high demand, is qualitatively different from other search services, and has very high or even impossible barriers to entry of competitors. Differences between the Google service and others are likely to increase.

Google clearly does not have a monopoly on "search" in general and anybody, at low cost, could put up a "search" service that superficially resembles Google.

Assuming for the moment that all of that is true, is there a legal issue here? Is there a freedom-of-information issue?

europeforvisitors




msg:3263356
 6:09 pm on Feb 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

is there a legal issue here? Is there a freedom-of-information issue?

No.

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