Google says it plays fair, but that doesn’t stop the company from finding itself in head-to-head confrontations with regulators concerned with its market dominance and the potential for abuse of market power.
As much as I love Google, I’ve also been critical of it. My nervousness at where Google was going really hit its stride when it ventured into its Google Books adventure; and this had two fundamental consequences that I found extremely worrying.
The first was that it stripped copyright from authors which led to a number of objections from governments and publishers globally, and a forced backdown by Google.
And the second was it had a detrimental effect on book retailers everywhere. The brand that stood to lose the most however was Amazon, an online favourite of mine.
I interpreted Google’s move into book scanning and publishing venture as a head-to-head attack on Amazon’s core business. Not content with its domination of online search, Google’s desire was to dominate the entire Internet.
At the time, I wrote article called “How Much Power Is Too Much Power?“. It’s a question a growing number of commentators are beginning to ask – and millions of global Internet users should think about.
So Google Books threatened Amazon, but its just the tip of the iceberg.
- Android is launched to attack Apple.
- Google Chrome is attacking Microsoft IE (Okay, Microsoft has Bing in response.)
- Google Places is an attack on Yelp (so Yelp has instigated antitrust investigations against Google).
- Google today officially launched Google+ because it wants to beat Facebook. Huh? Where does this end?
It may well be a consequence of the algorithm, however, Google already censures what it thinks you need to know about. Nowhere was this more pronounced than when the “Climategate” emails were leaked and published.
Head to Google at the time and you’d find some 300,000 Climategate results. Over at Bing, there were more than 5 million.
There is room on the Internet for many brands. Google does not need to own everything and we should be suspicious of any company that seeks to push all other competitors out of the way. Google should encourage alternate online brands to flourish in the consumers heart. It’s good for the Internet.
The more that Google intrudes into its non-core areas, the more it will be seen to be discontented with being the world’s biggest search engine, and only content with the world’s biggest everything.
The more it seems that it is after world-domination, the more interest it will attract from regulators, antitrust investigators and commentators that grow suspicious of its motives.