It is a truism of life that a private citizen is never allowed to wield more power that the king. And in the latest case of Google vs the European Union (EU), this huge private tech firm must never be allowed to get bigger than its britches is the message the EU seemed to be passing on to the watching public. So Google must be cut down to size.
In that first anti-trust case six years ago, the feeling was that Microsoft was behind the complaint. This is because, Microsoft provided most of the muscle, both financial and otherwise, that was used to form the Initiative for a Competitive online Marketplace.
The name of the group sounds altruistic enough on paper. But what the group did subsequently showed it real intent. It lobbied the EU, all those years ago to bring charges against Google. Others too, with incentive from the Microsoft-funded organization, joined the fray against Google.
Microsoft had however moved on to face other pressing issues after they signed an agreement with Google not to fight each other anymore. Perhaps, Microsoft understood that as American tech giants with global reach, it was better to band together against governments instead of fighting each other.
Today it is Google under the hammer, tomorrow it could be Microsoft. Though to be fair, Microsoft faced similar charges all those years ago when it was the absolute dominant player in the computer operating system category. Then Google was just an upstart.
Though Microsoft has exited the stage in Google’s current travails, the EU has shown the sort of resilience only found in pit bulls that would never be satisfied until an opponent is cut down to size completely. And that is what is very worrying for Google. It simply cannot fight the EU and hope to win.
For Google, these are grim times indeed. They have to contend with a new EU competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, who is determined to prove a point. And Google is the perfect victim for her to show just how serious she is about clamping down on anti-competitive practices in the European Union.
And small tech firms and businesses in Europe are lining up behind her and cheering her on. This is the sort of battles that fires a pan-European nationalism that is not normally seen in the political affairs of the region.
The case against Google
When the case first started (remember, it was spearheaded by Microsoft) six years ago, the specific complaints against Google was chiefly this: that Google was bias toward their own products such as Google Maps, and Google Product search on the ubiquitous Google search engine.
In practical terms, the complaint was that anytime a user did a Google search for anything, products or services related to Google were always at the top of the search results. And remember, 90% of all internet searches are done using Google search. To stretch that point a little further, it meant 90% of people were likely to patronize Google’s products and services before looking for alternatives.
If this is not anti-competitive, I wonder what is.
Google has grown too big for comfort. A clear case that sometimes a lot of hard work is not such a good thing. For Google, that hard work was in building very complicated algorithms that ensured Google search is today, by a long stretch, the best search engine in the world.
(Read the concluding part here)
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