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Google Becoming "Giant Monopoly" - German Minister

     
3:11 am on Jan 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Reuters [izurl.com]

Internet search engine Google Inc is becoming a "giant monopoly" like Microsoft and could face legal action if it does not become more transparent, Germany's justice minister said.

In an interview with weekly magazine Der Spiegel Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said she was concerned the firm was accruing too much power and information about citizens via programmes like Google Earth and Google Books.

"All in all, what's taking shape there to a large extent is a giant monopoly, similar to Microsoft," the minister said.

That is a fairly aggressive statement from a high ranking political official. Sure seems like the antitrust/monopoly arguments are coming up much more than any time in the past.

9:31 pm on Jan 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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So, to use the same argument, we can expect a choice of browsers for Google Chrome OS?

Google doesn't have a OS monopoly.

And where they do have a monopoly like in search and maybe advertising (although that's highly disputable) recent versions of IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera work just fine: you have that choice already.

google bashing

I'll give you that: y'all are quite good at that.
10:47 pm on Jan 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google doesn't have a OS monopoly.

They are quickly creating one with both Android and Chrome OS.

It may not be a desktop OS, but Android is sweeping the mobile industry.

I'm on the fence here because I love Android but the way they are leveraging their power to push cell operators to with incentives to sell those phones is very predatory, MS level of predatory.

maybe advertising (although that's highly disputable)

Disputable?

AdWords/AdSense is clearly the online dominant advertising market, bar none.

Google is clearly the online dominant search engine, bar none, and they have the Google Analytics (also dominant) to prove it!

That's like saying MSFT isn't the dominant OS because Apple and Linux exist, hogwash.

Maybe we should just ignore all these things and instead give Google a big old hug.

12:07 am on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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you are right Google is getting less and less popular in Germany, also when you have a look in there Mags every Month there is something negative about Google, be cause of there Privacy holes in search/tools, there ways of wanting to collect everything about a person/ip, also through the Mobile ways and they dont even stop there, genetics, medical....

Thats stuff no German like, the US have gotten used to it maybe.

1:01 am on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This debate about Google's growing power is becoming interesting. At this point, I will admit that it's seems that at WW, people are either pro G or against its growing influence. Many are against G because over the years, the company has been good at stabbing people in the back. Others, just don't like them on principle and market equity - healthy competition is ALWAYS good I say. But there are other people who still defend G's actions.

I will say that many of the G supporters are starting to become the same nauseating kind that support Apple and its shenanigans.

Like many, I am definitely biased, but I would appreciate if there was a way to analyze Google's influence on the markets, without it becoming a personal crusade on either side. Is it even possible? Has G reached that tipping point where you're either for or against it and that there is no middle ground, just like Apple?

On thing I do know, is that I made a conscious decision years ago to spread my "dependency." That means no Google analytics on my properties. No Android phones, no matter what how cool they seem to be. It's a hard place to be sometimes to not support the number one in your industry, but it is healthier and gives competition a chance.

7:30 am on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I tried to sign up for a gmail account through my current google account.

I had to give them my cell number in order to create the gmail account!

I checked the option for refused and never heard back.

Meanwhile they are busy promoting their new cell phone android on the google homepage. What's next, eavesdropping on our calls if we don't opt out.

11:28 am on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google has become a popular target for the Sarkozy and Merkel administrations. But this German government is not very bright at all and Merkel's general knowledge about the Internet is extremely thin so that any kind of stupid action seems possible.

In Germany Google got burnt already with gmail when they were forced to call it googlemail.

8:24 pm on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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We have to keep in mind that both in Germany and France, Google is synonym for search. In both countries Google has a market share of about 90%, leaving the other 10% for Bing, Yahoo and a number of local search engines.

The monopoly in search of Google in these markets is greater than for example in the US or UK, and this might trigger politicians from Germany and France to more easily target Google because it is not just the market leader, but practically spoken the only player in the market with a significant size.

4:41 am on Jan 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Like many, I am definitely biased, but I would appreciate if there was a way to analyze Google's influence on the markets, without it becoming a personal crusade on either side. Is it even possible? Has G reached that tipping point where you're either for or against it and that there is no middle ground, just like Apple?

I'd like to think that I am not too emotional in this, but thinking logically, step-by-step, I certainly think Google's recent expansion beyond the confines of its search engine (Google 2.0, if you will) threatens *most* content- and commerce-based online businesses, save for blogs, with extinction.

No matter which vertical you pick, launching a new site in it (again, other than in a pure blog form) seems almost foolish now: if Google likes the idea (conveniently, they'll be able to decide using your own site's Analytics data), they'll first take your data, use it to "aggregate" and merge it with similar sites to launch a "beta" of their own service (that's STEP 1), all while encouraging users and businesses to enter their data directly into their competing service (STEP 2). When there's significant traction in their own offering, at STEP 3 they'll start pouring millions of impressions into it by making it show up in any relevant search - above all search results. If they are really psyched about the idea, they'll promote it to people regardless of their search terms - like they are doing with Nexus One and Chrome right now.

Competing with this machine will be almost impossible and Google's product, even if limited in functionality and inferior to existing options, will quickly become the default way to find commercial and other information. (Some people will respond "What about Wikipedia or Craiglist?" Those are the exceptions proving the rule. Also, they are built as fiercely non-commercial sites, which is difficult to replicate)

Now, to your question: what's the net effect on the markets? They are threefold:

* First, online, fewer and fewer web sites will get launched and funded (who wants to bet against the house?), the web will be homogenized and reduced to a gigantic pile of pages of amateur content. Net result: innovation will be stifled.

* Second, the winning vertical site (Google's XYZ, natch) in many cases can be inferior to what another company could have done had it not been decimated by Google. It won't matter to Google, but consumers will be stuck with half-functioning "beta" products for years.

* Third, having achieved the status of THE one and only online aggregator in all meaningful verticals, Google can make it dramatically more expensive to businesses to advertise and even to simply keep their own customers. No matter how your customers find you online, Google can make sure they are presented with a variety of competing options before they actually see what they came to see. Net result: effectively, a Google tax on all B2C commerce, online and even offline.

Thus, we're moving towards an Internet with only one global provider of information: Google. People will use it for old-fashioned search, but also to check maps, travel information, compare prices, get quotes for financial services, find local restaurants, ATM's, shops, to book tickets, make calls, send emails or "waves", edit their personal and business documents, leaving them open for Google inspections, etc etc etc - effectively exposing their complete lives to Google. At every turn they'll be surrendering piles of consumer behavior data, not to mention personal data, bombarded with increasingly sophisticated ads based on that data, and perhaps in some cases, simply offered a single option: buy directly from Google.

Given how far Google is in this game and the insane amount of funding necessary to even attempt competing with it (try building your own cities-datacenters, with your own internet infrastructure spanning the globe not to mention your own killer product that's so much better than Google's and see how many hundreds of billions the bill will run you), I don't believe pure "market forces" will be sufficient to stop this from happening. Certainly, I don't see any start-ups threatening the Mountain View giant any time soon.

Of course, we can always hope that Apple will come to the rescue (and release a "2014" commercial with a different villain), but I wouldn't bet on it. Besides, it's unlikely they'll be any nicer to competition than Google.

Is that too pessimistic of an analysis?

8:23 am on Jan 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It's going to take a global effort to put some balance back into the internet space , sometime in the future. However , i don't think there's ever been a concentration of commercial power through communication across the globe as strong as this one.

.... and communication has always been a driver in history. Sooner or later this is going to push the limits of tolerance, somewhere out there. China seems to be the biggest resister in my mind . But money/power dominates everywhere , so lets see how those in control resolve it.

But if I had 10 years in a speed of light jet , I doubt if all the legal posturing , arguments strategy and counter strategy could be invoked globally within that period. By which time it would be too late anyway. Anyway , why doesn't the German minister ring a few friends and see what support he has.

10:28 am on Jan 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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loudspeaker:

Excellent analysis, even if you do paint a quite gloomy picture.

I think it is still not too late though; switching to FF (and tearing off all links to Google), switching to Bing for search results, ripping Analytics code from your sites, using an adblocker to block Adsense, Doubleclick, and Analytics. And when you are done, convince friends, family, colleagues, the visitors of your sites.

It can be done. And it should be done.

1:15 am on Jan 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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with time, sooner then later the normal user will open there eyes to what Google does, also as webmaster dont use Google stuff you never know what they will do with your data, you could have a great site going and in a secound google has a beta version.
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