Is Google a Monopoly?

Is Google a MonopolyWhat we know about internet search in 2013 is that Google is the straw that stirs the drink. Though the numbers change from quarter to quarter, the fact is that the vast majority of internet searches globally are through Google – around 70% in the United States, and a staggering 90% in the European Union. The sheer volume of searches through Google places the search engine into a position where governments, such as those in the European Union, assert that the company holds a “monopolistic position” in the marketplace, and therefore must modify its practices in the interest of competitive balance/fairness.

A writer from the EWEEK blog describes the issue as follows: “The EC opened its investigation into Google search manipulation in 2010. Earlier this year, Google presented the EC with a proposed settlement that would have included highlighting sponsored links and results from Google advertisers and ensuring that at least three Google competitors’ results showed up on the first page. The problem that Google’s competitors had with its proposed solution was that Google’s proposed fixes in effect highlighted Google’s products while downplaying the results from competitors.”

Is Google a “trust” or a “monopoly” or a “manipulator of search”? Depends on who you ask.

In the sense that Google has market dominance, it definitely is a player with which to be reckoned. In the historic sense of a monopoly or a trust – of the sort that President Teddy Roosevelt battled – it doesn’t meet those preconditions. Google doesn’t force anyone to use its service, nor does it crowd out competition. What it does is compel Bing, Yahoo, Baidu in China, and myriad competitors to step up their games and compete.

Those of us with long memories can recall internet search in the 20th century. Back then, Lycos and AltaVista were state-of-the-art. They were superseded by a product that the marketplace deemed superior. Does winning a battle for market share necessarily mean that a company is monopolistic? What are YOUR thoughts?