Court Finds That Google Is Not A Monopoly. Agree?

    September 12, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

In June, we asked readers if they think Google is a monopoly or if people just prefer it. We got quite a range of answers. The argument hasn’t gone away. In fact, if anything, it’s ramped up more than ever. The company is facing scrutiny at one level or another all over the world, but things keep happening to add to the discussion, including court rulings, acquisitions, and even shifts in market share.

We’ll ask again: Do you think Google is a monopoly? Let us know in the comments.

A court in Brazil has rejected claims by shopping comparison site Buscapé that Google is a monopoly, and essentially does not conduct its business in a way that is fair to competitors.

As described in a legal document, the complaint is that Google “manipulates its search service, that controls 95% of the market,” for the purpose of:

1. Allowing only Google Shopping to display images of the searched merchandise, which is not permitted to Buscapé and Bondfaro;

2. Embezzling and usurping the database of reviews – clients’ evaluations of the purchases gathered along more than 10 years by Buscapé, Bondfaro and E-Bit sites;

3. Artificially including Google Shopping in the first ranks of the search results, whenever a consumer conducts a query for the purchase of products in Google Search, thus harming the other competitor sites owned by Plaintiff.

Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land shares the summary judgment ruling it what appears to be a big win for Google in a not-so-highly publicized case.

In a nutshell, the court found that Google is not a monopoly, as people can easily go to other sites to conduct searches if they like, including other search engines, or the sites like those of the plaintiff.

Interestingly, Google has also been sharing a New York Times report indicating that people are actually beginning more product searches at Amazon.com rather than Google.com. The Times reports:

In 2009, nearly a quarter of shoppers started research for an online purchase on a search engine like Google and 18 percent started on Amazon, according to a Forrester Research study. By last year, almost a third started on Amazon and just 13 percent on a search engine. Product searches on Amazon have grown 73 percent over the last year while searches on Google Shopping have been flat, according to comScore.

This is exactly the kind of threat that Google faces when it comes to diminishing search market share, and in fact, is one that Google has indicated in the past is its biggest threat.

While Microsoft’s Bing poses some threat, Google is likely more worried about losing market share piece by piece in different verticals – more product searches going to Amazon being a prime example. I wonder how many other searches are being lost to Amazon by way of IMDB. Not to mention all of the countless apps that find their way into users’ lives on a daily basis via smartphones and tablets.

We look at the search market share reports each month, comparing Google to Bing and Yahoo, but in reality it’s about much more than that. Google has to worry about Amazon, Yelp, Facebook, Siri, and every other app/site with a search function (or a notification function), collectively, making the need to search Google a thing of the past – at least for these apps’ respective verticals. This is no doubt why Google is also trying to get you information before you search for it with Google Now, which recently got an update of its own, by the way.

As Google likes to say, competition is just a click away, and that is something that will not be changing in the foreseeable future, other than perhaps the replacement of the word “click” with the word “tap”. It’s an argument that Google has leaned on for a long time, but a lot of businesses are not satisfied with that, and along with government agencies, continue to express concern with Google’s market domination and its effects on competitors and consumers.

The Brazilian court also found that Google can basically deliver its results anyway it sees fit, that Google Shopping (and presumably other verticals) is simply a type of result, and not a shopping comparison site like those of the plaintiff, and that Google’s use of the plaintiff’s reviews are simply within the realm of fair use.

Again, it’s a big win for Google, and will no doubt be mentioned in ongoing discussions and legal battles with other entities around the world (like the European Commission and the Federal Trade Commission).

Are you buying the court’s findings? Tell us what you think.

  • Dave

    Search engine market share is an arbitrary concept, so yes I personally agree with these court findings; if a service is reached elsewhere then there is no issue of monopoly.

    • Sterve

      That may be because you don’t understand all of the problems Google has caused and all of the small businesses they have hurt – so far – and that they are planning to hurt very soon in order to fulfill their own feeling of superiority.

  • Michael

    I’m thinking it wouldn’t be a monopoly because of what the write-up pointed out: people can always use other search engines and whatnot for their searches.

  • lots0

    Webmasters around the world better start understanding that Google is a Competitor, that will lie (Remember the Google promise that they would not become a web ‘Destination’?) and do whatever it takes to dominate the web and be the only web ‘Destination’.

    If you give your site information to google for FREE(Analytics) your a fool and you are helping your competitor (Google) to beat yourself out of your own business.

    Don’t be a fool, treat Google like a competitor, not a trusted friend…
    With friends like Google, you don’t need any enemies.

    • http://www.NaturalDogTraining.INFO Paul Anderson

      Could you explain a little more what you mean by free Analytics giving away information to Google and shooting ourselves in the foot in the process?

    • Sterve

      With friends like Google, you don’t need any enemies

  • Greg Miernicki

    A monopoly cannot exist on a free product or service. So, as far as a consumer is concerned (using Google as a search engine), Google is not a monopoly and can never be one. However, Google also sells advertisements to businesses and in this practice they do not own a monopoly either because their are other competing advertisement services you can go to sell ads.

    • http://www.photomemento.co.uk Geoff Allibone

      They are still controlling the supply of information which is a commodity and are profiteering by restricting that supply, so perhaps the traditional definition of a monopoly needs to be redefined.
      My personal view is between Amazon/Ebay and Google there is a business relation which could be categorised as a cartel. The internet is certainly not able to promote a free market economics with these monoliths hogging the top pages for any search.

    • Sterve

      Google is not Free.

  • http://blog.notebooknerds.com Amy

    Google is a monopoly. Personally, I don’t use it as a search engine anymore as the only people that come up in searches for keywords I am looking for are always the ones you know to check anyway (ebay, amazon, etc), and I know how to visit those sites myself.

    It seems they have update after update, penguin, panda and god knows what’s next… All I know is they punish small companies who are trying to make a name for themselves, and instead the 1st page is always full of corporate companies that all seem to pay for advertising space as well.

    It’s disgusting. People should revolt and try other search engines like duckduckgo, lycos, dogpile (and bing have really started to get their act together as of recent I have noticed – their results are getting better and better), just to see if you like it… so many of us just live with google and accept it as the dominant search engine, but everyone knows what goes up has to come down… and I eagerly await that day, but by then it will be too late… It’s all about the name, everyone knows it’s branding that wins in this market, so as soon as someone comes up with something catchier than saying ‘google it’ or I just ‘googled it’, their rein will be over.

    Also, as a side note, this month Google Shopping dies for customers who are not willing to pay (basically adwords), and this will only lead to a bigger divide between the have’s and have-not’s… The competitor is not going to win from this, as the companies who are the cheapest are now paying to be the cheapest… How does that work? How is the competitor getting a good deal? That isn’t competition. That’s a shot-gun scenario… and it’s all so Google can post bigger quarterly profits than they already do.

    Shame on you Google. I loved it as a search engine, but with all these recent changes I am starting to despise it…

    • http://www.webserveruk.co.uk kes

      I Agree one million percent with your comments,Google are doing there best to demote good site from it’s ranks?why loss of revenue and Adwords that simple google could not care less as long as they make the sharholder and google happy.I am sick to the back teeth of them.

      • amnesia

        Actually I see the paid shopping results as a good thing, because it will help weed out all the spammy crap and fly-by-night scam shops that currently plague it.

        As far as organic results, I’ve managed to keep my employer (a very small company) on page 1 for many highly competitive terms without spending a dime, so it can be done with a little effort.

        • Frank

          Without spending a dime? Seriously hard to believe, unless you have a monopoly of your product. But then again, i have a #2 spot for a product i haven’t sold in years. Google, what a waste of time.

        • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

          “I’ve managed to keep my employer (a very small company) on page 1 for many highly competitive terms without spending a dime”

          What?? You actually followed the Google Webmaster Guidelines that have been around and essentially unchanged forever?

          Who’d a thunk it! 😉

  • Spamexterminator

    uhm I have no idea what yall is talkin bout I search with google daily and when I use to sho it has never once gave me a link to a google shoppin network. in fact yesterday I was searchin for a new webcam and it brought up like 100+ results for ebay and amazon and about 10,000 other OEM and Comparison Sites that I will prolly never use. If I haven’t shopped there b4 I prolly never will.

    • Frank

      Wow! What kind of computer are you using? that blocks all ad’s from Google, gotta get me one of those!

  • Webmaster Concerned

    Of course Google is a monopoly! In 3-5 years you won’t be able to go to the bathroom without using something that Google has some sort of financial interest in. They have more money that most countries and share it with US politicians on a regular basis.
    The first page of organic results now can be measured with who spends the most advertising on adwords and the like.
    The small business that thought they would put up a website and gain customers from it is in for a rude awakening because they cannot compete with multi-million dollar ad campaigns and domination of organic search results by big household known brand names.

    I have loved Google for years, however after watching what they doo for 8+ years I am convienced that they bear the “Mark Of The Beast” and have the ability to affect enocomies on a local and global scale and those that don’t believe it are not fully informed.

  • Scott Hammond

    If I own a blog and publish paid do-follow links Google will punish me in their search rankings for violating their guidelines. If I publish Google AdSense links they will not punish me. If i publish links I sell myself I have control over the link and sell it for full market value. Google punishes me for competing against their product, and uses the threat of deleting me from search returns to bully me into taking pennies on the dollar for carrying their product. I have no recourse of any kind. If that isn’t a monopoly, and an abusive one at that, what is?

  • http://www.economicrant.com roger mason

    somehow, in a supposedly free market Google
    has managed to get a monopoly on advertising.
    Google is a disgrace. since they completely
    monopolize the field they feel they can do
    anything they want to do.
    this will end, as all monopolies end, but it
    may not end soon.

    • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

      So you are saying that only Google has advertizing and Bing, Yahoo and other search providers don’t?

      Google is the only provider of search results, product reviews or product information for shopping?

  • http://www.kentuckyspecialfx.com Mike Bisch

    Yes and no.
    Google’s a free service so legally it cant be a monopoly as far as I have read but we all know the truth.
    I do think that it’s high time that the public got away from using Google with how they have stepped all over small companies just to make a buck.
    Amazon and Yahoo and Bing have stepped up to the plate to play ball and if they play they’re cards right and band together then Google could be in trouble.

    • Sterve

      Maybe it’s free to you but my cleints have paid Googele over 50,00 per month. THAT is not FREE – sorry.

  • lots0

    @Paul Anderson:
    “Could you explain a little more what you mean by free Analytics giving away information to Google and shooting ourselves in the foot in the process?”

    First let me ask you… Would you give ALL your traffic info, to your competitor for free?
    Would you give ALL your sites private data to a competitor for free?
    Like what keywords your targeting that actually convert? How long people stay on your site.. Well you know the info that Analytics collects… that is what you are SHARING for FREE with Google.
    Google then uses YOUR Analytics info to improve THEIR service… And take your business.

    If your willing to share with the world and your direct competitors your entire online business plan then you should not have any problems with using Analytics.

    If however you realize that Information is currency.. especially information about your site and traffic…

    Then giving away that very valuable information to a direct competitor is rather foolish.. don’t you think?

    • anSEOguy

      To buy into that idea, one would have to believe that Google really intends to use your data against you. You would have to believe that they have made and they will continue to make organic SEO increasingly difficult and decreasingly effective, bolstering the value and increasing the use of AdWords and PPC.

      I believe.

      • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

        If Google were to increase their Adwords business to the detriment of organic search, the market for Adwords would dry up and go away.

        Instead, Google tries everything it can to make organic search MORE relevant, although not 100% successful in doing so all the time. 😉

        • lots0

          Do you really believe google is making their results ‘better’?

          If you believe that, I got some swamp land for sale you should take a look at…

      • Sterve

        I don’t know what to say on that. I have 4 clients who have now ( collectively) taken a 300,000 bath because of Google’s Penguin in just a few months. In fact these clients at first increased their PPC but have now backed away from Google completely. The fact that they didn’t fit into Google popularity contest lost them a lot of organic page views. Yet they were the best sites out there. Certain Chinese companies which sell al kinds of cheep stuff are now kings at Google without any rime or reason. Fully 1/2 of the number 1 to 10 sites in Google in their categories aren’t even relevant to the keywords people are searching for. The Google debacle is really pathetic so I am hoping that BING does become KING.

  • Ricardo

    Brazil? C’mon their politicans constantly take bribes. it’s on their local news all the time. International law should not apply in a USA case.

  • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

    Quite frankly Google has turned into gatekeeper from the gateway that I used to love. I’m not surprised that when a blind test was conducted by Microsoft that most people picked Bing’s results over Google’s. It’s the same kind of thing that Coke and Pepsi do, blind sampling of the general public. No trained QA people, just your average off the street people. Imagine if Google did the same kind of blind testing right off the street. Would they be amazed that more people choose Bing’s results? I think so. But the question remains if they would actually post the results if Bing won.

  • amnesia

    This reminds me of the Microsoft “Monopoly”, in that a lot of people seem to be confused about what the word monopoly means. It means that you are forced to use a particular product because there is no other choice – for example I do not have a choice in who provides my power, it’s either the local power company or no power. That is a monopoly. You don’t have to use Google, it’s not the only game in town, and they aren’t even charging you for using them. So while they may have the lion’s share of the market, they are in no way by any stretch of the word a monopoly.

  • anSEOguy

    User-agent: Googlebot
    Disallow: /

    Google does what Google wants. They grab content and re-purpose it. They make a massive amount of money with it. They should pay to use it. Fair is fair.

    Of course, knocking yourself out of Google’s index wouldn’t be a good idea if your competitors were still visible there, and the big guys – who get lots of love already – would never go for it. But imagine what Google’s search results would look like if Googlebot were blocked site wide from 90% of all web sites… Then, Google would just be all ads and some fluff supporting the big boys.

    Wait a minute … … Hmm… nevermind.

    • Sterve

      I like it please expound.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    Not yet … but the intention is there!

  • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

    “Allowing only Google Shopping to display images of the searched merchandise, which is not permitted to Buscapé and Bondfaro”

    Not true, for some time now one has been able to submit images along with URLs in the sitemap.xml file.

    “Embezzling and usurping the database of reviews – clients’ evaluations of the purchases gathered along more than 10 years by Buscapé, Bondfaro and E-Bit sites;”

    Not sure how they intended to apply the term ’embezzling’ but if they were Google reviews, Google does retain the right to use them as they wish, to benefit search users and, clean out any felt to be suspicious or outright fraudulent.

    “Artificially including Google Shopping in the first ranks of the search results, whenever a consumer conducts a query for the purchase of products in Google Search, thus harming the other competitor sites owned by Plaintiff.”

    When Google shopping was free, all one had to do was follow Google guidelines to have their offerings included. When it transitioned to paid, it’s basically just another type of paid advertizing and instead of advertizing pages of a website, one would advertize specific products.

    Either way, Google Shopping is a service to those looking for products to buy.

    Anyone who’s implemented the various tools and services that Google makes available would have known all of what was claimed was little more than sour grapes and whining.

    And, even were any of the claims true, it still wouldn’t make Google a Monopoly.

    • lots0

      You seem to be into your third six pack of google koolaid.

      Google has betrayed the webmaster community and is currently preying on us.. driving us out of business one by one as google decides to expand into each of our niches.

      Craig your business seems to be promoting google products.. so of course google will not want to move into that niche just yet…

      But for the rest of us google is a direct competitor for our business.

      • Sterve

        Someone with sense. Yes indeed. Thanks Lots0

  • http://www.idealarticles.info Reuben

    Google, Google, Google! No matter how we view it, I believe this has happened before. Remember Microsoft? Well I also believe that Google has learned from the mistakes of its predecessors such as Microsoft and they are doing it in a much smarter way. Yes, my opinion is that they are a monopoly under disguise.

    • Sterve

      You have it Reuben

  • Denise

    Monopoly – an exclusive ownership or control of a commodity.
    Commodity – article for sale.
    Let me rewrite this for the courts. Google controls articles for sale by forcing companies to buy PPC to be ranked, therefore they are a monopoly.
    Then again, Google has so much money they can pay off a judge to see things their way.

    • Sterve

      How very true

  • Joe

    You should put in the title “Brazilian Court” which = JOKE. I stopped reading your article as soon as I read the word Brazil.

  • Joe

    It’s a case by case basis. Google is a monopoly in many cases. When Microsoft lost their war with IE, there was another choice of browser too, Netscape and a few others.

  • http://www.bluebuswebhost.com Thomas Bergel

    Google has earned their position as top dog with innovative products that have captured most of the market. The product is good, easy to use and in most cases superior to any of the competitive brands. My complaint is that their management is not user friendly, particularly with products like Adsense which I think stems from arrogance that comes with their great successes.

  • http://www.allmartshopping.com paula

    The more i use various google products the more i realize everything is so problematic that it must still be in beta and before they work out the bugs but I have spent weeks working to do things under their “new” criteria they up and drop the program for a completely different structured list of criteria. Each time many small biz sites drop off and lose money while trying to meet the new criteria fraught with problems as usual and yet we have no choice but to try because……. google is a monopoly.

  • http://www.tuxrules.com Tux_Rules

    Nope, not a monopoly.

  • Jim

    Technically and legally they are not a monopoly though they sure act like one and need to have their blocks knocked down a peg or two… I think that they need to be chopped up into their respective companies Google the search engine, GMail, YouTube, Picassa, etc. all need to be made separate and distinct not tied together. In fact there should be no sharing of data between these communities. “Don’t Be Evil” was one of the founding principles of Google… too bad the devil herself is pissed that she didn’t think of that line to sell people… she is also jealous that google is more evil than she is…

    • Sterve

      Well said Jim. Well said!

  • http://www.verticalpharmacy.net Sofia

    Searching for product : Amazon
    Searching for People : Facebook
    Searching for Apps: Itunes
    Searching for were to search all this : GOOGLE.

    • http://www.q3tech.com Q3

      Great comparison Sofia.
      But I’m not sure what your point is here. If you’re trying to prove that Google is a monopoly because of these things, you’re mistaken. A better search engine is always welcomed to provide better search results and earn all the audiences.

  • Shane

    Google is not a monopoly, it is successful simply because most of its products are better than competitors’ products. Enough said.

  • http://www.theanaloguerevolution.com Pete

    If Google is just a search engine then it isn’t a monopoly, you can always just use Bing, but it isn’t. it is now in everything, it’s difficult to use an Android phone without logging into Google and effectively opening yourslef up to google without a choice

  • http://ephedrinewheretobuy.com Mike Budd

    I don’t think that Google is a monopoly. They have been so good at start that they became the other name of search engine. They developed great apps and compared to many other companies, I think that they still make money in a fair way (making money is still the bottom in our countries, no? Or maybe I’m mistaken and they are a non profit organization?).
    To sum it up:
    – they won their so dominating position with their own talent
    – anyone is free to use other search engines.
    To be honest I did the recent test with Bing and the result made me laugh :-) Years behind Google.
    That’s it 😉

  • Sterve

    “Technically” Google is not a monopoly since by definition monopoly (economics) a market in which there are many buyers but only one seller “a monopoly on silver”; “when you have a monopoly you can ask any price you like for something.” “Exclusive control or possession of something.” Google is more of a dominant Fascism but not until their is collusion with Bing will they be considered a monopoly by definition.

    Let’s face it however Google is close to a monopoly when it own such a large share of market – 70%. Be that is it may, for now.

    What Google is actually is a authoritarian hierarchical corporation ( dominant Capitalistic Fascism) that can and does control enough of the market to be able to – at will – inflict damage to those they don’t like that depend on them for advertising. In this case they are very close to a monopoly. Fortunately, because it is not a full monopoly, people have alternatives. 1 is Law suits 2. Going some place else.

    The Stupidity of Panda and Penguin, G+ and other power goofs. (I know some disagree) has caused 10’s of thousands if not millions of business owners (who are loosing their shirts and money) to start jumping the Google ship and go to the only real competition Bing. But, will Bing be any better?

    Google has proven that power corrupts and if (once) Bing start acting like Google that will be a 2 corporation (corrupted) monopoly.

    The problem really revolves around the fact that the small business is going to be the loser than, just as it is the loser right now with Google. I wish Bing all the luck and can only hope they don’t let power go to their heads as Google did.

    In the mean time I am looking for another alternative to the Google 3/4 monopoly and even Bing Search.

  • RJWTimes

    Obviously, it is a monopoly since it controls all search and video and soon to be all phones. Enough said.

    • Sal

      Last I checked Google didn’t put a chip in my head that makes me type “www.google.com” when I need to search for something.

  • http://xnxx.com WAHEED ALI


  • Tominguez

    Google is a monopoly and a disorganized and abusive one

  • Sam

    Well, Google can have the Brazilian market, that’s not my concern. My concern is the North American Market, Canada, US & Mexico.

    As a former Google affiliate of google’s adsense banner program, I can attest to the fact how unfair, fraudulent and monopolistic google really is. When I included the google banners on my website I went from being virtually unknown to being found on the 8th page in 2 months. However, the metrics of Google is 1 click per 1000 page views, and if you’re results a startling better, then google has a problem paying out; essentially you will be removed from the program.

    Also, Google’s policies are mere window dressings on issues such as, infringement on intellectual properties & copyright laws; they make it clear that such violations will lead to permanent termination, but, this is simply window dressing. If your site boasts traffic in the millions per month, then it’s business as usual. Don’t believe me? then go to: http://www.mma-core.com A site that posts ufc fight videos hours after the paperview event has been aired, Illegal ! ! !


  • Name

    Google is no way a monopoly. Noone is forcing you to use Google search, and you can’t blame Google for offering it’s services over the services of others; this is exactly the same thing as stores offering their own product over their competitors’.

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