Mr. Gattuso, clearly, you do not understand the technology and are using ideological arguments to attempt to address things you do not grasp well enough otherwise; I say this because, if you did, you would see that your article as posted here: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/10/google-antitrust-and-not-being-evil utterly misses every salient point and more than a few facts….
Allow me to render insight; you claim in the above that the complaints rendered in the antitrust hearings would result in “restrictions (that) would be unnecessary and harmful”. (sic)
My first question, obviously, is simply, “To whom?” Obviously, such restrictions are both very necessary and helpful to companies being run out of competition by the ongoing and deliberate use of monopoly power by Google. In fact, at this point, it is likely their only hope of relief. But I can see from your article that you do not understand why this is the case.
For example, in relation to scraping and reserving of content as means of undermining competitors and reducing their ability to reach their market, you fail to understand that, at present, a search result from Yelp that is naturally better in quality (being the original) is hidden from user view by Google’s scraping of that content (which is property of it’s originator, Yelp) and re-serving of it as if their own.
You seem to be asserting that copyright is somehow involved and that, because Yelp does not own the copyright, this is “ok”. In reality, Yelp owns a license to that content, granted by the creator (their customer/user). Google, on the other hand, does not. So, in this instance, not only is Google infringing on a license belonging to Yelp, they are also infringing upon the content owner’s right to determine who may or may not re-use their content.
This manner of competitive abuse in an open market without monopolistic influence would land any other competitor in court. But Google gets away with it because (as Yelp and others have also attested) any complaint only increases the weight of monopolistic power brought to bear upon them.
You also do not understand that this is far from a single occurrence; Google has a pattern of co-opting and then usurping competitors, all of which was also attested in the antitrust hearings. This, sir, is not “fair market competition” and it would be both asinine and profoundly disingenuous to pretend otherwise once one understands precisely what is happening.
Another example for you – the difference between natural bias in results and bias that results from deliberately manipulating page display as well as actual result sets via algorithms designed to downrank content that Google (in its infinite… wisdom? Say rather, its monopolistic predation!) finds unworthy of showing to those who search its site.
Still more that you do not understand, this time, as regards selective removal of content or selective promotion of content:
The process of deliberate removal of content from a result set is known as “bubbling”; you can read more about the specifics of it here: http://dontbubble.us/ - but the salient point is that bubbling doesn’t JUST happen based upon user-aware activity, nor does it only happen based upon “neutral, non-preferential” algorithms.
You see, Mr. Gattuso, Google uses its mastery of those algorithms to bubble people away from competitors as well; by choosing to show its own “places” information instead of Yelp’s information, for pointed further example.
You write that Google is, “…seen as a trusted provider of the most useful information, a service that will get them what they want, not what Google wants.”
But you are wrong, Mr. Gattuso; Google does tweak those algorithms to include “what Google wants” and that, in a nutshell, is the accusation Yelp and the others are delivering and, apparently, the reality you are not grasping.
You are also correct that Google IS losing consumer trust because it IS increasingly coming to light that they skew the results. Hence the hearings and the ongoing federal investigation into their business practices.
You also do not understand that reaction to this is happening; a small crop of offerings that specifically do NOT engage in such behaviors are already available:
But, as Yelp and others have so eloquently demonstrated, you can’t really compete with Google, so the above, too, go largely unnoticed. (Are you starting to get it yet?)
The simple fact is that this kind of behavior by Google would not be the issue that it is were it not being wielded with monopolistic priviledge by Google. Yahoo and Bing and more employ some form of bubbling as well as algorithms for serving “relevant” sites based upon consumer tracking of previous activity (and not only on their search engines; which is equally bad, albeit for entirely different reasons).
But none of these have the weight of monopolistic power Google brings to bear.
Finally, you state that, “…Google’s insistance that content providers not be allowed to choose where they are linked and where they are not is reasonable.”
What you don’t understand:
(1) Google offers this precise service as part of their own advertising platforms (AdSense and AdWords, specifically).
(2) Not only CAN a customer choose (a) where to be linked and (b) where not to be linked, they can also fine-tune their choices by geo-location, day or week, time of day, and a number of other factors, including search terms.
Obviously, this makes the assertion that, “Accommodating the preferences of countless content providers…” as “… an administrative nightmare that decreased benefits to Web users.” (sic) therefore, patently false and misleading.
I see that you finally resort to the one tired line that I, personally, have grown overwhelming weary of reading from anyone, “Ultimately, if Google’s search choices do not provide consumers with what they want, competing search engines would be only too happy to take up the slack.” Which, succinctly, is “Don’t like it, don’t use it.”
In case you don’t recognize this, that line, almost of its own volition, is the refrain of every monopoly pretending not to be one. Why else would a company bother to say this but that they rest upon the certainty that the leverage and control of their monopolistic power ensures that there IS NO real choice but to “just take it”?
In short, Mr. Gattuso, the arrogance and disdain shown by Google in those very hearings (which I watched and which took dancing around the issue to breathtaking new levels of adroitness), but speaks to the ludicrous degree to which monopolistic power has, apparently, gone to Google executive’s heads.
I’ll leave aside the laughable notion that your section entitled “real competition” engenders but to point out that Google holds over 75% of the mobile search market (with some reports placing that nearer 90% thanks to Android) and the thresholds for monopoly are, as you well know, clearly defined.
I would be tempted to take your obvious oversight of this statistic in light of your lauding of the browser-based market share deliberate, but, as previously stated, that posits an understanding of technology that I assert you very pointedly lack.
(It is, however, interesting to see you attempt to tout 65% market share as being indicator of fair market when that difference in ratio/share, applied to say, Microsoft versus Apple so easily draws a different reaction.)
But even you at last get to the point and, in your summary, you seem to want to draw a line between Google cozying up to government and regulators as being somehow indicative of their own “lack of evil”. Interestingly, that degree of coziness has risen sharply of late; with Google’s lobby machine releasing dollars to think tanks and political interest efforts like a wonky slot-machine in a backwater gambling town.
Mr. Gattuso, I find this refusal to learn before speaking, to prefer ideological slant to demonstrable fact, and this attempt to paint Google as un-derserved victim while denigrating, deriding, and essentially dismissing accusations that have many times been found both relevant and actionable in other instances to be either ignorant to the point of shamefulness or deliberate and, frankly, as evil in intention as anything Google has to date done.
It is one thing to be supportive of the principles of free markets, quite another to actively seek to shore up and support deliberate monopolistic predation upon competitors as well as the general, consuming public.