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F.T.C. To Serve Google Inc. With Civil Subpoenas



5:47 pm on Jun 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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F.T.C. To Serve Google Inc. With Civil Subpoenas [online.wsj.com]

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is poised to serve Google Inc. with civil subpoenas, according to people familiar with the matter, signaling the start of a wide-ranging, formal antitrust investigation into whether the search giant has abused its dominance on the Web.

The five-member panel is preparing within days to send Google the formal demands for information, the people said. Other companies also are likely receive official requests for information about their dealings with Google at a later stage, the people said.

Representatives for both Google and the FTC declined to comment.


5:21 pm on Jun 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Instant answers. New sources of knowledge. Powerful tools—all for free. In just 13 years we’ve built a model that has changed the way people find answers and helped businesses both large and small create jobs and connect with new customers.

(Bolding added by me)

All those instant answers and new sources of knowledge cost SOMEONE money to create. That's the point Google often forgets... WE have to spend our money and our time and our knowledge to ultimately have them use the info. When they take our work, wrap it in a shiny new format and then prevent the visitor from needing us or our services any longer... it becomes an issue.

(edited for spelling and wording)


6:06 pm on Jun 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Since the beginning, we have been guided by the idea that, if we focus on the user, all else will follow.

Google (transparent by now) spin, spin, spin, spin.
Illegally banning competition is in favour of the consumer (yeah, sure).
It has worked for them well in the past, unfortunately.
Hopefully it may work no more.



6:19 pm on Jun 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Saw this coming a mile away when they rolled out Panda and destroyed a lot of Main Street small businesses. There are a lot of pissed off webmasters who are voters. Of course, there is going to be a political backlash.

[edited by: thirteen at 6:52 pm (utc) on Jun 24, 2011]


6:48 pm on Jun 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Serves you right Google. You did this to yourself.

Keep shutting down adwords accounts and tanking sites in the serps, and all the other sketchy things you do.

Hopefully, this doesn't wreck things too much for the rest of us.


8:00 pm on Jun 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Here's one conjecture on some likely topics to be raised during this investigation.

Does Google's ad auction operate fairly?

Does Google favor its commerce affiliates?

Does Google unfairly promote its own products in search?
[adage.com ]

Considering that there are many other issues, and FTC probes take many turns as testimony is given, this could go on for years.


9:22 pm on Jun 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If you don't like the game, go play somewhere else and there definitely are other games in town, even in the UK. In the US you have loads of other opportunities.

Google only exists because people use it, as publishers we all have a duty explore other opportunities and migrate to them as and when they pay better than Google.


9:51 pm on Jun 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Of course there are other games in town but Google patiently built up trust while building market dominance. Once their name became firmly established as synonymous with search they then moved into anti-competitive practices knowing that they have been branded into people's minds. That's why they keep saying, tongue in cheek, "you're free to search elsewhere". They know they have the general population in their grasp, we as professional webmasters know it too. The FTC also know it therefore they have to put on this sideshow to appease us all because it is becoming embarrassingly obvious that they had to do something, anything.

Googel (French for Google, or maybe it was just an uncorrected typo) will eventually crumble, probably within 5 years, but not as a result of government intervention. They are their own worst enemy. I foresee a day when they will become a poster-child case study in business schools on how not to run a very viable and profitable company into the ground at mach speed due to greed.

Maybe some of the old-timers can jump in and confirm -- wasn't there a time years ago when a 3% year over year growth rate was considered respectable? These days there's hell to pay if it's not 3% per quarter. Why is it these days that there such a mad race to try to earn one's retirement income with 3 years rather than over the course of a 20 year working career. Just because it's possible doesn't mean it's right. People get left behind when that becomes the predominant social structure, homes get boarded up after foreclosures, families get separated.


10:22 pm on Jun 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Attaining a dominant position in the market, even 100% share, is not illegal. Abusing such dominance in one field (search) to harm and/or eliminate competitors in another field you also operate in (advertising) for own profit, constitutes restriction of trade and is illegal.

I wonder why some people here cannot comprehend this simple premise, upon which (and other similar) the FTC and the European Commission are acting.

I can understand lowlives at Google pretending not to understand this, but I cannot understand affected webmasters not comprehending this.



10:44 pm on Jun 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

The argument "Free to search else where" is no longer valid for Google. This was a valid argument when Yahoo was the Dominant Search Engine and Google was still a private company.

US Law allows intervention when a company or a couple of companies hold monopolistic power in that industry.

A company can set their own price if it is part of a free market competition. If you don't like their price then go buy else where. This is valid. However, when a company have monopolistic power then they don't get set the price without government regulation.

Netscape browser was a popular browser at one point. Microsoft has monopolistic power to eliminate Netscape by:
1) Microsoft offered their browser for Free. This eliminated a paid application model for Netscape. How can they compete with Free? Microsoft can generate losses for years on that product line to put Netscape out of business.
2) The operating system automatically use Internet Explorer by default without giving the user an option to choose their browser
3) The operating system was made incompatible with Netscape causing it to crash and steering users to use Internet Explorer instead.

In summary, Google might behave like small startup tech company but they have monopoly power.


2:12 am on Jun 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

I will die believing that GoogleSoft started to favor brands more since virtually every brand advertises on Google. In fact you have to advertise on Google platforms /properties to reach any meaningful audience and be or stay a brand. So they help their advertisers but indirectly since most brands advertise a certain amount of their revenue no matter what. And that Google Panda model is to throw a bone or two to newspapers since Google 'stole' their advertising revenue and is driving them out of business. These, IMO, are decisions made by a handful of Cupola members and sent down the line, possibly without a paper trail. Just as 'suggestions' that engineers make reality. Google didn't become a $30 Billion a year company by not squeezing every possible penny possible.

Hey Google, FTC posted a few guidelines for you [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com...] so you can escape FTCization. They may help you, or they may not. But you will find out either way, after firing your staff and losing most of your income. And stop whining, life's not fair, dontcha know? And OBEY THE GUIDELINES next time, or you will be penalized.


2:25 am on Jun 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

By making a site more or less likely to rise to the top of its search results, Google theoretically could affect how much traffic a website got and therefore how much it could charge for advertising. If another company's website for, say, a travel service, competes with an ancillary business of Google's, manipulation of search results could be considered anti-competitive.

Read more: [theage.com.au...]

Time for Google to pay the price of its arrogance ... it was only a matter of time! YES, they are a monopoly and have been a monopoly for far too long. They have alot of explaining to do now... the "user benfit" mantra to explain their bully tactics no longer washes.

Too many businesses, losing too much money over Google questionable updates and SERPs ranking. Not to mention the "in the face free Google services" right at the top of almost every SERP page.

Too many mistakes Google....BIG mistakes!

About blody time...


8:33 am on Jun 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Too many mistakes Google....BIG mistakes!

Mistakes? I don't think so. They are too smart for mistakes.
Like a gang of thieves robbing a bank vault, Google knew they had limited time to haul as much as possible within that limited time, before alarms went on and security was after them.

They knew what they were doing, be sure about that. They knew also that they did not have all the time in the world, and had to grab as much as they could while the party was on.

And they knew they would be allowed to keep most of the haul eventually.
(This is the most disturbing aspect of "justice".)

Pure calculation by smart thieves. No mistakes.



1:52 pm on Jun 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

^ very interesting way to look at it... hmmmmmmm


11:08 pm on Jun 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

@ heisje ... i think that you are preety much spot on.
Interesting way to look at it indeed.


6:53 am on Jun 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Google has confirmed that the US Federal Trade Commission has opened an antitrust investigation into its search and advertising practices, and although the company says it respects "the FTC's process", it continues to insist that those search and ad practices will stand up to scrutiny.

With an SEC filing, the company said it received a subpoena and a notice of civil investigative demand from the commission on Thursday. That same day, The Wall Street Journal reported that such a subpoena was imminent.



7:12 am on Jun 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

@SevenCubed, Here is how you compete with Google's free website building:

Offer free web site development, here are the main conditions:

1. Link back to your site, "web developer Canada"
2. You're Google ads placed on their site indefinitely... unless they pay $X amount to get the ads taken down. (it's to pay for your work!)
3. When the site is done, nickel and dime them to complete the "after-market-add-ons" ie. draw them in with the free offer and then get 'em on the "extras".

You'll be living lean for the first few years... but, soon you'll have lots of advertising dollars coming in, month over month and you'll not have to work anymore!

Make sure you have a rock solid contract so you don't do all the work and then get screwed in the back end of the deal!

Best of luck!



7:40 am on Jun 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

@mhansen, I couldn't agree with you more.


9:21 pm on Jun 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Small cheap sites, with professional quality attention and service is my niche

The only aspects of that Google will compete with are "small" and "cheap". Not quality, and definitely not on service.


9:55 pm on Jun 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The only aspects of that Google will compete with are "small" and "cheap". Not quality, and definitely not on service.

I know, but, the potential small business jumping at Google's offer won't know that until it's too late. Then they will have a sour taste in their mouths and lump all web developers into the same mould thereby shunning legitimate services from independent Internet developers like me. Once bitten by the beast, twice shy.

On a positive note, I'm brushing the dust off one of my previous ambitions of becoming a wilderness guide. Just might turn to that yet, it's in my blood. Kayaking, canoeing, exploring raw wild lands where no stone has ever been turned over. It appeals to me.


11:09 pm on Jun 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@Lenny2 - thanks for the pointers but this goes way beyond just me.

As it stands right now I share this market niche with about 300 or more other companies offering similar services within my local greater metropolitan area. It will affect them too. And if Google succeeds in making inroads here, they'll be coming to an area near you sooner or later. They probably chose to sink their claws in here first because we tend to be passive people who only resort to litigation when things can't be worked out through dialog and handshakes. They probably know this and are exploiting it.

This is why this anti-trust investigation is at least 1 year overdue.


9:40 am on Jul 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Has no one noticed that Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, etc... ALL recently sold large portions of their stock.

They know something is up--maybe starting to go belly up.


6:29 pm on Jul 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Has no one noticed that Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, etc... ALL recently sold large portions of their stock.

They know something is up--maybe starting to go belly up.
After 13 years I would have sold 90%, they haven't. Google is not going to go belly up but it will probably be crushed by Apple, Microsoft, Motorola, Erickson, Oracle and the likes on their non-search future. Google has no patents for Android. Contrary to "we're innovators" they don't even register with the big boys when it comes to new patent issued, now others paid $4.5 BILLION for 6000 patents by Nortel. No one thought the big boys with decades or R&D and patents would let newcomer sweep a rug under their feet.

Microsoft is part of a consortium that is paying $4.5 billion for a slew of patents from Nortel Networks, a Canadian networking company trying to come out of bankruptcy.

Pending U.S. and Canadian court approval, the proud new owners of more than 6,000 patents and patent applications – on wireless, networking, optical, voice, Internet, semiconductor and other technologies – also include Apple, EMC, Sony, Ericsson and Research in Motion. But perhaps more important is what company lost the bid during an auction spanning several months.

“No major industry player is as needy in terms of patents as Google,” patent expert Florian Mueller wrote in an email to seattlepi.com. “There are already 45 patent infringement lawsuits surrounding Android and makers of Android-based devices have to pay royalties to dozens of right holders. Just this week Microsoft announced that three more Android device makers, in addition to HTC, are already paying royalties on Google’s Android to Microsoft.”

In April, Google bid $900 million for the Nortel patents – one-fifth of the final selling price – to begin the “stalking horse” auction. After seeing considerable interest from other companies, Nortel decided to wait to hear more offers.


6:46 pm on Jul 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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They know something is up--maybe starting to go belly up.

I don't think they will go belly-up either but they will become "just another face in the crowd" when the playing field gets leveled. So, yes they know something is brewing and they are selling their shares while there is still some value left in them. Like I said elsewhere, they will probably become a classic business school case study, but for unpopular reasons.

There's a nagging feeling that I keep getting about IBM's Watson. I think IBM will eventually have a search engine built out of a variation of it. It would probably be a very good day for the Internet because IBM is a classy operation unlikely to dive to the anti-trust depths that Google has finally sank to.


7:13 pm on Jul 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Things have been getting weird lately with how a few cozy corporate buddies with less relevance or knowledge on the webpage (for the web user) are getting sweet top 5 listings in the "Organic" serps.

I'm not saying anything "weird" is going on, but something "Weird" is going on.

There's cigar smoke coming out of the 1911 backroom business model lounge for members only.


8:10 pm on Jul 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Has no one noticed that Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, etc... ALL recently sold large portions of their stock

huh ? link please?


8:26 pm on Jul 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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hippypink might have a different reference but here's one at CNET. [news.cnet.com...]

In that article dated January 22 2010 though it points out that the sale is taking place over a period of 5 years. Maybe they just executed a portion of that recently but I don't see any more recent mentions.

Ultimately it leads to their loss of control by 2014.


11:57 am on Jul 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Kent Walker, (Google) senior vice president and general counsel:

This outcome is disappointing for anyone who believes that open innovation benefits users and promotes creativity and competition. We will keep working to reduce the current flood of patent litigation that hurts both innovators and consumers.

Look who is talking : Google, perpetually restricting true competition for own profit, and falsely pretending to champion the consumer. This deceptive "mantra" has an expiration date.

This 57 message thread spans 2 pages: 57

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