This post and the last are weirdly timed. Last week, I wrote about how Google make terrible business decisions that harm their long-term success. I said, interestingly, that since around 2011, Google has failed to make any new business models work.
And this week, the US Department of Justice trial against Google started in earnest. The Verge has a great podcast episode about it, describing some of the arguments that are being made on each side. Although their description of Bing’s shortcomings is, I think, out-of-date and based on the pre-GPT 3.5 situation.
The Google Antitrust trial positions
In summary, these are the two arguments being made in the trial accusing Google of anti-competitive behavior:
- Google: Google is successful in web search because it’s the best search engine.
- DOJ: Google web search has been successful since around 2010 because they ruthlessly abuse their market position to ensure competitors cannot get started enough to learn what customers need or want.
Default search engine
Some of the argument comes from Google paying the likes of Apple and Mozilla to make Google the default search engine on iPhones and in the Firefox browser. The Verge’s Nilay Patel rightly points out that Apple and Mozilla both trade on their privacy credentials, while taking large amounts of money from the most data-hungry corporation in the world.
Abuse of market dominance?
It’s difficult to know if Google might have a legitimate competitor if it wasn’t abusing its position. I do think Bing’s AI chat search feature’s complete lack of traction, despite its clear superiority, talks to the dominance Google has over people’s awareness of competitors. I’ve said before, that Siri understands me better than Google does, but so does Bing’s voice search feature. And Bing gives better answers to verbal questions. I’d buy a Bing-based Google Home in a heartbeat, if one existed, and if Matter and Thread worked properly yet.
Is it our fault?
If Google is abusing its position… and if that can be shown in evidence, which is a big ‘if’. If that can be shown, though, and then the court rules in Google’s favor, then we have a legislative issue. Congress is famously not interested in the citizens’ interests, especially when the interests of businesses conflict (Thank EternalSkyFairy for the EU, at least at the moment). But if Google can be shown to be abusing market position and still not be held to account, We The People need to do something about it. And by We The People, I do mean the same ones who vote for the likes of Maggie Hassan.
Incidentally, what on Earth is Kevin Cavanaugh doing sticking her face all over his publicity material? His policies are absent especially when compared with Will Stewart or June Trisciani, but to place her face on his material after that video was released is a perverse reflection on our democracy.
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