EbeneMagazine – AU – What is the Google monopoly lawsuit about?

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Google parent company Alphabet has received an official antitrust complaint from the US Department of Justice alleging that Google is an illegal monopoly on Internet searches.

This lawsuit is expected to be just the start of what will likely be years of legal saga that will last long after President-elect Joe Biden takes office and that could transform the world’s leading internet search company.

Google has been accused of affecting competition in the internet search and search advertising markets by entering into distribution agreements with other companies to prioritize the Google search engine in their products and the Google search tool every time you browse the internet To put in the foreground.

The Justice Department must demonstrate that the markets in which the complaint is made are the correct markets. It must then be proven that Google has monopoly power in these markets (in SA this would be a dominance). The markets in which the division claims Google has monopoly power are:

The department then has to prove the gist of their complaint: Google is illegally controlling these markets by using a variety of exclusionary agreements to keep competing search engines from competing. The basis for this claim is the revenue-sharing agreements that allow device manufacturers such as Apple and Android to get a share of Google’s advertising revenue in order to make Google the default search engine on devices.

Additionally, Google uses preinstallation agreements that require Android manufacturers to pre-download the Google package of apps like Chrome and YouTube on consumer devices. Google is also subjecting Android manufacturers to anti-forking agreements that prohibit manufacturers from developing and distributing versions of Android that do not conform to Google standards.

The department must also demonstrate that the behavior complained of affects competition. In this regard, it has been alleged that competing search engines such as Bing and Duck Duck Go do not have access to the same sales channels on mobile devices due to Google’s exclusive agreements with manufacturers.

The claim is that the damage these competing search engines suffer is hurting consumers who do not have access to other search engines that could offer different and possibly better services. This has reduced choice, quality and innovation.

After filing the complaint, Google rejected the allegations and posted extensive counter-arguments on its company blog, stating that they were « deeply flawed ». . People use Google because they « choose it, not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find an alternative, » it says.

It is alleged that the suit is of no help to consumers and may even artificially support lower quality search alternatives, increase phone prices and make it difficult for people to get the search services they want to use.

Google intends to argue that other search engines such as Bing compete with it in providing search services and, consequently, the level of potential Google substitutability is high. However, this is undermined by the fact that Google dominates the general search market – it performs up to 90% of web searches. According to a 2019 EMarketer report, Google generated 73% of search advertising revenue in the US, compared to Amazon, its closest competitor, which had a revenue share of just 13%.

Google is expected to demonstrate that its various agreements with device manufacturers serve a variety of business purposes, rather than excluding competing search engines.

The last major US monopoly case was filed against Microsoft in 1998 when the Justice Department successfully argued that the multinational tech company had illegally monopolized computer operating systems by asking computer manufacturers to standardize their web browsers on their computers. Microsoft has recovered from that setback and is now worth more than $ 1. 5 trillion.

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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed in Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.

Published by Arena Holdings and distributed in Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.

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Search engine optimization, Google search, digital marketing, World Wide Web

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Ref: https://www.businesslive.co.za

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