1. Acquired smaller competition in order to squash the threat.
2. Limit consumer's choices, based on their "natural hierarchy" of algorithm.
3. Adwords, Google's system of matching search results to like-minded advertising (by way of pay-per-click advertising) to help filter in paid-for advertising into search results.
What gives? I thought that Google was the soft and fuzzy, good guys of the internet? Has that changed? It depends on who you ask.
Both newspapers are running similar stories concerning the "maybe/maybe not" game that the FTC is playing on Google. There is some cause for concern that Google, by virtue of its own success could be tilting the playing field. The most vocal critic of Google's practices is FairSearch.org who has singled out Google as being worthy of industry scorn. The site has cobbled together information about Google's size of the market share, quotes that the co-founders of the company have said in the past and what some other industry experts are saying as being indicative that Google isn't playing fair with its competitors or its end users.
Fairsearch.org has made up a fact sheet with key facts about how BIG Google is and how potentially bad that could be for internet browsers, companies and advertisers. According to FairSearch.org, "Google controls more than 70% of all searches in the U.S." (Fairsearch.org), and that "Google has a dominant position in almost every EU country, with an overall search market of 94% in Europe" (Fairsearch.org). And possibly the biggest shocker is that "Google controls 98% of the U.S. mobile search market" (Fairsearch.org). If that is correct, then that means that Google, while capturing an increasing percentage of cell phone sales with their Android models, Google is poised to be more powerful yet. According to the UK paper, The Guardian, reports that "Android is the dominant smartphone platform worldwide for the second quarter in a row, in a market that has grown by 83% to 101m from 55.2m a year ago" (The Guardian). The Guardian also reports that "smartphones outsold PCs for the second quarter in a row, underlining the dominance of the new devices"(The Guardian).
If you asked Google what they think about the alleged suit pending, they would probably say that there is skepticism due to their success. You might call it the "don't hate me because I am beautiful" argument. What is for sure is that Google has no intentions of slowing down. Adweek reported recently that Google CEO Eric Schmidt was predicting "the next trillion-dollar industry" to the Cannes Lions award ceremony attendants. Schmidt is projecting that the next big thing will be "tap and pay" where your cell phone acts in place of your credit card. Or, as Mr. Schmidt put it, "your phone will know what you want and it will allow you to pay for it without a credit card. “The best thing would be if Google knew what you wanted without you having to type it in,” Schmidt said. 'With your permission, with a mobile phone we can trigger search queries about where you are'” (Adweek).
Schmidt also announced that the company intends to introduce "Google Wallet" wherein your phone is linked to your bank account, acting like a virtual credit card. Schmidt is predicting that within the year, "a third of all checkout stands in restaurants and retail stores will allow you to “tap and pay” with your mobile phone. 'How big a market is that? We're talking trillions of dollars'” (Adweek). That might sound like science fiction, but in actuality, the United States is just late coming to the "cell phone as a credit card" party. There are African countries which have been setting up cell phone networks which allow the working poor and impoverished to use their cell phones as credit cards to pay for services and goods as well as safely sending money. And while those African residents are paying a penny or less per transaction, I am sure that we Americans will be paying top dollar for the "benefit" of the same service.
And, there is another legitimate concern for the average user of these high-tech services - internet security. What obligation does Google have to protect (or not share) our information which we give through Gmail, Google Wallet, Google Search and Adwords? The FTC was wondering the same thing, and put into place some restrictions on how Google can use people's private information for third-party use. In Part II of the FTC order against Google earlier this year: