Google Denies It Harms Rivals After EU Files Antitrust Charges

By Jaikumar Vijayan  |  Posted 2015-04-15 Print this article Print

In his response, Singhal said that the complaints raised about the comparison-shopping service are simply not borne out by the facts.

When Google launched the service, many online travel companies such as Expedia, Travelocity and Kayak had feared Google would siphon off their Web traffic and customers. But that has not proved to be the case. In the United States, for instance, Google Flight is well behind rivals like Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz and Travelocity, which together account for 95 percent of total market share. The numbers are not very different in Europe as well.

Suggestions that Google's dominance is killing off rivals are also not true because there's plenty of competition in all of the areas that it competes in, Singhal said, pointing to search engines such as Bing, Yahoo and Quora and specialized online services like Amazon, eBay and Idealo. Mobile apps have also given companies an option to go directly to the application or service they want from their devices, he said.

"It's why we respectfully but strongly disagree," with the EU's antitrust investigation, Singhal said.

Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google vice president of engineering for Android, similarly challenged the Android investigation and said that Android has helped create more choice and innovation in the mobile market than any other platform. Google's application bundling requirements help ensure that its applications work across all sorts of different Android devices, Lockheimer said, adding that it's not just Google that has benefited from Android, but others in the ecosystem as well, including developers, manufacturers and consumers.

Ken Odeluga, a senior market analyst at City Index, a financial trading authority in Leeds, U.K., said it could take years before there is any outcome to the case.

At the moment, although the EU has formally accused Google of specific wrongdoing, the case is still in the investigative phase. "What needs to happen first is for the investigation to be complete. In fact, the scope of the probe itself is not even decided yet—even though reports say it will focus mostly on online shopping," Odeluga said in emailed comments to eWEEK.

It's highly unlikely the investigation will be completed anytime soon, according to Odeluga. "We can expect a strong campaign by Google to re-frame the investigation in many ways," he said. If the case ever goes to court, Google is sure to appeal any negative outcome and request other remedial actions. "We could be looking at 3-5 years before there's any sort of outcome," he said.

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said the issue pertaining to Google's comparison-shopping site will have little impact on Google even if it complies with the EU's requirement to make sure all shopping services are given equal prominence.

With the Android investigation, if Google is asked to decouple its applications from the operating system, the company will likely start charging a licensing fee and pay for installation of its services. "The one difference will be that Microsoft will be in a position to compete with Google for placement of its services. This will reduce Google's revenue, but we believe not greatly," Gottheil said via email." Google's services are largely preferred by users."


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