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In less than an hour, hearings will begin in Washington DC to discuss Google's business practices and, more specifically, claims that Google is anti-competitive. Yelp and Nextag will speak to what they believe are anti-competitive practices, while Eric Schmidt will present Google's side. In our "Discussion of the Week," we want to know your opinion: Is Google anti-competitive? Does Google play fair in presenting search results and providing opportunities for competing sites to be visible in its search results? The floor is open!
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from JulieJoyce 1128 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Is it Google's fault or is it our fault for continuing to let them be the leader? I fuss about them yet I use them for everything. I fuss about their unfair ppc system yet still use it and only it for paid search. I use them for searching, for mail, for analytics...for everything.



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from MattMcGee 1128 Days ago #
Votes: 0

As Greg Sterling points out in his SEL article this morning, some of the Yelp testimony is pretty damning against Google -- things like presenting Yelp ratings and review content in Google's search results with no attribution/credit/link, etc., as well as the alleged threat that if Yelp didn't like having its content scraped like that, it would have to remove itself completely from Google's index.

On the other hand, I don't have a problem at all with Google showing its own properties (like Google Maps, Google News, etc.) in search results. Of course it does. The analogy that's been made is a good one, I think: We don't demand that the NY Times show articles on its front page from USA Today or the Wall Street Journal, so why should Google have to show other companies' properties ahead of its own?

Should be an interesting day, regardless.



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from hugoguzman 1128 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Yes, they are probably a bit anti-competitive in nature, but then again, this is nothing new when it comes to building media/communication/information empire.

Aaron Wall turned me on to a great book that covers this topic in great depth:

http://www.amazon.com/Master-Switch-Information-Empires-ebook/dp/B003F3PKTK/



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from AlanBleiweiss 1128 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Similarities here to Microsoft both with their OS and n the early years, with their browser.  Yes they use anti-competitive tactics, create unfair competitive advantages.  Yet as Julie points out, we make use of their services anyhow.

It's made worse by the fact that millions (billions?) of "typical" users make use of those services as well.  People who don't care about the issues we do, and just want their lives to be productive, then go along with whatever bill of goods their marketed by on the largest scale.

An example of just one of the issues that won't (but should) be addressed during these hearings are things like how companies who have a right to compete locally or regionally but who don't have an actual address in every town they serve, are at a distinct competitive disadvantage.

And then there's the whole concept of how Google's gotten so big that it wouldn't surprise me if the corrupt powers that be in Washington label them "too big to fail" at some point, which just disgusts me no end...



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from toddmintz 1128 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I have a hard time arguing against the phrase "It's their search engine and they can do what they want with it".  If people feel Google isn't giving them the best results, they'll go elsewhere. For point of reference, IE used to have 90%+ marketshare and now they're half that.  Google share of the marketplace isn't nearly as dominant as IE used to be.



Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 1128 Days ago #
Votes: 0

But Todd, "It's their _________ and they can do what they want with it" didn't apply to previous cases where the government penalized companies for anti-competitive business practices. There are laws that businesses must follow and so, while it IS Google's search engine, they're not immune from following US laws as they relate to anti-trust issues.



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from Spock 1128 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I consider Google to be in violation of the United States anti-trust law. I also consider Microsoft, Apple and every other "successful" corporation to be violating the same law. As for Google, namely, the few instances mentioned above. I enjoy using Google, however they seem to be contradicting the moto "Don't be Evil". Google is limiting innovation and competition. You can see prime examples every time they attempt to enter a new arena. Groupon doesn't want to sell? Let's start Google deals! etc.

Microsoft, Apple and many others are guilty of the same practices. I consider the larger issue of buying patents left and right to "protect our interest", "Let's sue everyone we can"! The Side-effect? Lack of innovation and a slower progression of technology.

Competition brings real innovation, not a monopoly.

- Live long and prosper.



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from toddmintz 1128 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Yelp & others have plenty of opportunity to develop their business model.  They don't need Google's natural SERPS to be successful...there are plenty of other ways to grab mindshare and marketshare that don't involve Google.  Anything they get from Google's natural SERPS is just gravy for them.




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from Spock 1128 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@toddmintz - I would agree however when Google owns 80% of search engine market shares it isn't realistic. Google should be at the top of nearly every successful business model. The issue at hand is if Google is being anti-competitive. When Yelp ask Google to remove reviews from places (Google once, leased these from Yelp) they reply with "Your only option is to let us keep using them or be removed from our search engine all together". This is anti-competitive behavior, case closed. Google wanted places to take off, however without those initial reviews from "Yelp" I doubt it would have went very far or atleast at the speed of which it did.



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from Jill 1128 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I'm with Todd on this one. I'm a firm believe in capitalism and survival of the fittest.

Whether what they're doing violates anti-trust laws or not, I don't know. But I guess that's what the trial with sort out.




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from ajkohn2001 1128 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Okay, first off 'Don't Be Evil' doesn't mean 'Don't be Profitable' or 'Don't run a Business'. Those are not mutually exclusive terms.

I don't often agree with Rich Skrenta, but his idea to beat Google with innovation and entrepreneurship is a solid one in my opinion.

So Groupon won't sell. Is Google supposed to just sit there and think, we could probably whip up a deals product, but, gee, that would introduce more competition into that vertical?MapQuest was awesome at one point but ... Google's map product has just leapfrogged everyone.

Didn't Bing spend millions promoting their decision ... er, search engine to the masses? But it hasn't done much has it? Now you could claim that it's the bundling and the Mozilla relationship that makes this possible but ... if Bing were really better you'd see appreciable movement between the engines.

Both Microsoft and Yahoo had an email product that could have been the absolute dominant one in existance but they failed to innovate and are now slowly losing to Google.

Need we say anything about Chrome versus IE? And that's with a huge barrier in place to get folks to switch from IE. That's actually an argument for how good products can change market dominance.

Now that's not to say that I don't have concerns, about the strongarm tactics that seem to have taken place with Yelp or very odd 'auction' behavior in the PPC realm. The Google Tax just keeps going up and the tremendous spike in Q4 never feels natural to me.

The issue at hand is that Google has essentially become the way in which people navigate the web. If I were to point my finger at one company that has done the most to enable this dominance it would be Mozilla.

With broadband connections and tabbed browsing why do we still rely on search to get from point A to B? (Not me personally but watch others use the Internet and they're constantly doing navigational searhes.) Firefox could have done any number of things to transform the 'browser' experience.

And now Google doesn't even have to really rely Firefox anymore, they've got Chrome and they're making sure search is as fast as ever so we never have a reason to find an alternative. But that's not anticompetitive in my book, that's just smart business.



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from St0n3y 1127 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I never thought the gov had a case against Microsoft, but I'm not so sure about Google. I don't know about the anti-competitive behavior, that just seems to be good business, but I do have concerns about the monopoly issue. While any company can legitimately get a monopoly, there are reasons why we don't want them to keep it, because it prevents legitimate competition from getting a foothold. I think Google is just too big, has too much information and is (or at least can be) too dangerous. I'd love to see them split up.



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from Jill 1127 Days ago #
Votes: 1

This article from Greg Sterling on SEL is a good recap of what happened at the Senate Hearings yesterday.

I find it interesting that Sen. Mike Lee professes his love of free market, yet wants to break up Google.




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