The European Commission’s fine on Google last week may have been of record size, but it was no surprise -neither in its reasoning nor in its magnitude. After all, the bigger the company that commits the abuse, the bigger the fine is by the European Competition authorities.
First up to bat for Google was The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), who Google is a significant member of. Even though not all members of the CCIA agree with the content – its Europe Director Jakob Kucharczyk put out a strongly-worded comment, suggesting not only that Google has done nothing wrong, but that the enforcement of the decision “would clearly not live up to its promise of spurring innovation.” Kucharczyk says that “Companies should not be punished for introducing innovative products that consumers and advertisers value,” and that since other e-commerce companies have found success, this shows that the market is not “suppressed by a dominant player”.
The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), had a polar opposite perspective. Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC, said that “The Commission confirmed that consumers do not see what is most relevant for them on the world’s most used search engine but rather what is best for Google. Now we need to see real changes to the company’s business practices so that consumer choice prevails when shoppers search Google for the product they want.” He continued to say that “Today consumers and innovation win. Google’s anti-competitive behaviour stifles innovation because it prevents customers from reaching competitors through its search engine. This harms consumers who are faced with less choice and, eventually, higher prices.”
Politico reported (the US, not the EU version) that US Senator Richard Blumenthal said the EU fine should be considered by the American regulatory authorities: “This significant action by European regulators is the latest in a powerful collection of evidence suggesting Google has repeatedly and consistently abused international competition law,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “Here in the United States, the FTC must confront the mounting evidence that Google is manipulating search results in anticompetitive ways and possibly running afoul of our antitrust laws.”
With further investigations into Google ongoing such as how it uses its mobile operating system Android, this is not the end, but merely the beginning. Expect more pompous statements by associations and research groups, and even more sponsorship and visibility in the Brussels capital.
If my mother was right, money can buy you most things, but not (real) love.