When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do? -- John Maynard Keynes

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Google and Competition

Here’s what analysts, journalists and and others are saying about competition in search.

Industry Analysts

Danny Sullivan, Search Analyst, Search Engine Land

“Google’s offered more than web search for a very long time. Image searches, for example, stretches back to 2001. It is a search company. It is supposed to offer search products. It makes no sense to expect those search products to be merely listing web pages. If people are doing shopping searches on Google, it should evolve its product to have a specialized shopping tool. That’s what its users want.” (7/15/10)

Greg Sterling, Analyst, Search Engine Land

“I’m no free-markets zealot but I do believe that if courts and regulators start dictating how search algorithms should operate it starts to destroy search and its utility.” (2/25/10)

Paul Gallant, Research Analyst, MF Global

“We suspect the dynamism of the Internet services sector will lead the FTC to proceed cautiously in deciding whether to pursue a formal complaint against Google. Bing/Yahoo has recently taken share from Google search, and more fundamentally, new advertising models are emerging via apps, mobile services, and potential game-changing services like Facebook that individually or collectively could challenge Google’s leadership position.” (MF Global Research Note, 5/2/11)

Journalists and Commentators

Mike Masnick, Tech Dirt

“There Is No Such Thing As Search Neutrality, Because The Whole Point Of Search Is To Recommend What’s Best…‘Search neutrality’ is not a problem because ‘search neutrality’ makes no sense. The whole point of search is to be biased. The whole point of search is to recommend which sites fit your query best. ‘Search neutrality’ isn’t search at all. It’s a list of unsorted and totally useless links.” (6/18/10)

Financial Times – Editorial Page

“[‘Search neutrality’] is an impractical and unnecessary idea. As Marissa Mayer, Google’s head of search, argued in the FT, it is better for different search engines to compete vigorously with each other to produce the best and most relevant results. Google may be highly successful in search, but competition is only a free click away.” (7/15/10)

Harry McCracken, Time

“[Google] has every reason to do whatever it takes to preserve its algorithm’s long-standing reputation for excellence. If consumers start to regard it as anything less than good, it won’t be good for anybody—except other search engines.” (3/3/2011)

Ryan Singel, Wired

“No one would win if government regulators got access to Google’s algorithms, except maybe Bing. Hell, it’s not even clear if there was an agency that would be qualified to actually understand it, if they saw it.” (7/16/10)

Kathy Kristof, CBS MoneyWatch Contributor

“If the government does have some information about how Google is violating the nation’s antitrust laws, let’s hear it. […] Let’s be clear, market dominance does not equal antitrust. To have violated antitrust laws, you must be actively working to reduce free competition. When it comes to Internet search and advertising, Google is dominant because they’re better. Unless there is some evidence of coercion that we’ve yet to hear, this is not the same as the 1990s Microsoft antitrust case. […] Google, which now offers its own browser called Chrome, clearly does not pressure anyone to use either its browser nor its search engine when we access the web from our homes and offices. When I open up the Chrome web browser, it’s just as easy to get to Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, as it is to get to Google.” (6/23/11)

Sam Diaz, ZDNet

“Finally, in the aftermath of one of the most turbulent economic times in nearly 100 years, there’s some good news coming out of a sector that has already proven to resonate through national and global economies. And now the government wants to start poking around one of the big players because it might be too big? […] Is it un-American for the government to launch a probe of one of the leading companies in an industry that has the potential to put the U.S. back on the global map?" (6/24/11)

Policy and Legal Analysts

James Grimmelmann, Professor, New York University Law School

“Of course Google differentiates among sites – that’s why we use it. Systematically favoring certain types of content over others isn’t a defect for a search engine – it’s the point.” (January 2011 – Some Skepticism about Search Neutrality)

Berin Szoka and Adam Thierer, Progress & Freedom Foundation

“If government compels Google to surrender control of its platform, what other Internet-platform operator is safe from regulation to ensure “fairness”? Believers in limited government must stand united for high-tech property rights and digital speech freedoms for all players and platforms.” (National Review, 7/19/10)

Lauren Weinstein, Co-Founder, People for Internet Responsibility

“Recent calls for regulatory oversight of Google Search are way off-base, and – beyond the obvious First Amendment concerns – threaten to undermine Google’s efforts to provide the best possible natural (organic, algorithmic) search results via Google’s continuing work to avoid distortions in or gaming of those results.” (7/18/10)

Eric Goldman, Associate Professor, Santa Clara University School of Law

“[I]t’s difficult to imagine how regulatory intervention will improve the situation. First, regulatory solutions become a vehicle for normative views about what searchers should see – or should want to see. How should we select among these normative views? What makes one bias better than another?”(The Next Digital Decade, 2010)

Prof. Geoffrey Manne, Lewis & Clark Law School, and Director of the International Center for Law & Economics

“In the absence of evidence of Google’s harm to consumers, then, Leibowitz appears more interested in using Google as a tool in his and Rosch’s efforts to expand the FTC’s footprint. Advancing the commission’s “priority” to “find a pure Section Five case” seems to be more important than the question of whether Google is actually doing anything harmful.” (Main Justice, 6/13/11)

Gary Shapiro, CEO, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)

“I think it’s ethically wrong [the potential antitrust investigation], and wrong for the future of the country. If there are laws, they should be clear and you should know if there’s a violation. But the laws are so ambiguous. The fact that our government is leading the charge against our best, most innovative companies in the world — we can’t afford as a country to play these games anymore. It’s just a tragedy.” (Politico Pro, 5/10/11)

Diane Katz, The Heritage Foundation

“[I]n seeking protection from competition, [companies] effectively become creatures of government—their success a product of regulation, not ingenuity or utility. Notwithstanding all the rhetoric about protecting ‘consumer choice’, such intervention inevitably harms consumers more than it helps.” (4/6/2011)

David Balto, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

“There is really not much evidence that consumers are harmed in any respect by Google’s conduct. To put this in perspective, you need to know that the FTC brings cases in about one of every 10 matters that they open.” (San Jose Mercury News, 6/23/11). “[Balto] says the big hurdle will be showing that Google’s search results were deliberately biased or harmed consumers in a significant way.” (The Wall Street Journal, 6/24/11)

The Big Picture

Financial Crisis - The Telegraph

JohnTheCrowd.com | The Sailing Website

Craig Newmark - craigconnects