AlyssaS - 1:29 pm on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)
In 2011, the Google SERPs are like a shopping street for a physical store. No city or politician lightly decides to tear down buildings or remove access to a street and screw all the existing businesses.
And that gives existing businesses a massive, massive advantage over new businesses, even if the new business is better.
Essentially the existing businesses form a lobby and pressure the politicians to keep things as they are - code for shutting out new players. They feel that even if they are providing a poorer service they deserve to be right where they are because they were there first. Founded in 1847 apparently means everyone has to give you special privileges.
Part of the reason the off-line economy is so screwed up is because of this attitude. You see ludicrous examples which ultimately fail (such as the buggy manufacturers successfully getting politicians to legislate that a man must walk in front of a car with a white flag), but there are also countless examples of existing businesses successfully getting new technology stifled at birth to protect their own operations. Because, as you say, existing businesses get to lobby politicians.
The system online is a much fairer one, though more exhausting - you fight it out on merit and you are forced to do this constantly. There isn't anyone to lobby and you can't argue that because you were there at the start of the web, a new site has to take second place to you even if they don't deserve it.