Anyone who does not work within the Internet business, which means those who just use the Internet to buy things, play games and catch up with friends, likely views Google in a fairly positive manner. In fact, statistics back this hypothesis up quite nicely as Google has been shown to have around ¾ of the search-engine market share. However, those who do work in the internet industry have heard, and likely seen firsthand, what Google has done over the last few months that has hurt several businesses. Today, Larry Page met with the FTC to discuss what Google’s competitors and the FTC describe as an anti-trust violation.
So, what was Google doing that got them tangled up with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)? Well, the competition claims that Google was ranking sites they have an interest in ahead of sites owned by random people, such as someone’s personal blog that happens to get a reputable number of hits. In theory, nothing appears to be wrong with what Google is doing as their search engine is their own business and website, so they should seemingly be able to do what they want.
Additionally, many internet experts argue that as long as Google is not using their power to jack prices up, or down, to run out their competitors, they are not doing anything illegal. In fact, they look at it from the perspective that other search engines simply failed in producing a good enough quality search engine to get people to stay with theirs instead of leaving for Google’s.
Experts who are neither strongly for or against the FTC’s actions pretty well agree on the fact that it might be best to leave Google alone. Even if they are bumping the rankings of competing sites down, they are still generating revenue for businesses who are paying taxes as a result.
However, Google is facing additional anti-trust issues beyond just their search engine. The FTC also claims that Google has received numerous patents simply to prevent their competitors from releasing smartphones with superior technology, and this certainly could be considered anti-trust if Google never intended on actually developing a phone with the concepts they have a patent on.
This will be an interesting case to watch unfold, but most suspect the FTC does not have enough, or the proper, evidence to actually win a lawsuit against Google.