There's good news and bad news for Google in France today. The Autorite de la Concurrence - a competition watchdog - has decided it isn't thrilled with the company's power, but isn't yet willing to assert that Google needs to be tamed with fines and legal measures, either.
The Autorite de la Concurrence observed in a statement that, with respect to advertising, "many elements converge in order to indicate that Google holds a dominant position . . . market share, price level, nature of customers relations, margin level, etc. The entry barriers also appear to be high when it comes to developing an activity as a competing search engine, because of the investments at stake for the development of the algorithms and indexing of content, as well as due to the size effect."
But the next paragraph is what Google's execs and lawyers will celebrate: "In and end of itself, this dominant position is not reprehensible: it results from a great deal of innovation, supported by significant and continuous investments. Only the abusive exercise of such market power could be sanctioned."
What's more, after outlining a few procedures it has problems with, the organization said, "[T]he Autorit makes no ruling as to the legality of such practices that would merit, in order to be pursued, often long and complex investigations."
So it seems that the Autorite de la Concurrence is just going to use this opportunity to apply pressure to Google, and will otherwise do little besides keep an eye on the search giant.
The Autorite de la Concurrence's English statement and further analysis in French is available here if you're interested.