SMX East: Assessing The Googleopoly

    October 8, 2008

Google’s big and getting bigger, as firms like comScore and Hitwise can confirm.  Then there’s its pending deal with Yahoo to consider.  So a session at SMX East addressed the question of whether Google is a monopoly, and what can and should be done about the issue.

(Coverage of the SMX East conference will continue at WebProNews Videos.  Keep an eye on WebProNews for more notes and videos from the event this week.)

To start, James Grimmelmann, an associate professor of law at New York Law School, pointed out that it’s not illegal to be a monopoly – the only company in a business.  The problems start when a company drives others out of business.

Search Engine Land’s Chris Sherman thinks competitive responses to Google’s success are possible.  Microsoft, for example, has taken some steps towards transparency in China.  If Yahoo responded in kind, pressure would be put on Google to do something similar.

James Grimmelmann
 James Grimmelmann

This led us to the Yahoo-Google deal, though, which almost everyone at the session viewed with suspicion.  Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikia Search (and that little thing called Wikipedia), thinks Yahoo would be abandoning a core part of its identity.  Kevin Ryan, the CEO and founder of Motivity Marketing, doesn’t like the idea of a single, dominant source of information.

Still, Shelly Palmer, the managing director of Advanced Media Ventures Group, pointed out that everyone’s digital footprints are plenty big even when Google’s removed from the equation.  And the speakers agreed that Google’s work in the mobile market has provided the dominant carriers with some much-needed competition.

So a "Googleopoly," as the conference session’s title labeled the company’s possible dominance, might not be too much of a cause for concern just yet.

WebProNews Video anchor Abby Johnson contributed to this report.