The European Union has cracked its whip against Google for monopoly practices in its search engine results, after a prolonged five-year investigation into the company.
The EU, which took similar action against Microsoft 10 years ago, has begun its probe into Google monopoly practices or anti-competitive behaviour following complaints from Microsoft, Tripadvisor, Streetmap and others.
Google owns 90% of searche engine web-based queries and Microsoft’s Bing.com failed to reach even 3% of the search engine market, despite its backdoor entry by forging overt and covert alliances with other browsers or third-party imitators.
The complainansts said Google places reviews from Google+, displays from Google Maps, music and videos from YouTube, and advertisements from its Adwords platform ahead of others’ in relevant searches.
“At the core must be the fundamental principle that Google must not abuse its power in general online search to give preferential treatment to its own separate services,” said Icomp, resenting the complainants.
Last year, Google offered to change the display of its search results, but the previous competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, asked the company to redraw its plans anew.
Ms Margaret Vestager, his successor, is expected to take a tougher line and issue a “statement of objections” today, according to reports.
This should give Google another opportunity to respond before action is taken against it by the EU competition commissioner.
Once confirmed, Google faces the prospect of huge fines in the range of billion dollars or more. Recently, Intel was asked to pay 1.1bn euros (£793m; $1.2bn) in 2009 and Microsoft 516m euros in 2013.
Google said, “People can use Bing, Yahoo, Quora, DuckDuckGo, and a new wave of search assistants like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana…In addition, users increasingly turn to social networks like Facebook and Twitter to find news and suggestions – where to eat or which movies to watch… Mobile is changing everything – with the explosion of apps taking people directly to the information they want.”
Google is facing anti-momopoly cases in India, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Taiwan and Canada where cases have been opened for investigations, while the US Federal Trade Commission chose to drop its probe in 2013 after Google made several non-binding commitments.