The search giant Google has been under fire in the EU. Officials were concerned that Google wasn’t displaying search results that linked to their competitors. Google has now reached a deal in their EU antitrust case, meaning that Google’s search results in Europe could start to look very different. Here’s what we know so far about this developing story.
1. The Three Competitor Rule
— The Verge (@verge) February 5, 2014
CNET reports that Google will now be “required to show three competing services to its own products” in search results.
2. This Investigation Lasted Years
— Mary Shank Rockman (@marysrockman) February 5, 2014
According to the Financial Times, the European investigation into Google lasted for three years.
GIGAOM notes that Google has 90 percent of the search market in Europe, which explains why officials were so concerned with the tech giant’s influence. However, BBC News pegs Google’s market share at about 75 percent.
3. The Deal Takes the Form of a Five-Year Pledge
Bloomberg reports that Google has made a five-year pledge to the European Commission. As part of the deal, Google can add new services or alter its search page, provided they link to their rivals as well. Those rivals will have to pay the U.S. equivalent of 4 cents to bid for one of these search result spots.
In the Bloomberg video above, Bloomberg Markets Editor Manus Cranny briefly discusses the five-year plan.
4. Google’s Competitors Are Not Pleased
Google's deal with the EU is in sharp contrast to Microsoft’s European travails. http://t.co/dCFIVtn4Nu
— WSJD (@WSJD) February 5, 2014
In their coverage of this news story, TechCrunch quotes an unnamed tech company source who was unhappy with Google’s EU deal. The unnamed person stated, “This thing is a disgrace. So much for transparency.”
Lobbying group ICOMP’s General Counsel David Wood was also quoted in the TechCrunch piece. He said:
“A settlement without third party review is a massive failure. Complaints and others must see Google’s proposed commitments, not just the Commission’s analysis of why they will work. Hard data from market tests proved that the previous settlement would not work – we need time and opportunity to ensure full technical assessment of how effective the proposed remedies would be.”
5. Google Has Not Been Fined
The terms of the agreement mean that Google has not been fined, according to the New York Times. That’s good news for the tech giant, as the Washington Post writes that Google could have faced a fine of up to 10 percent of the company’s annual revenue. This would have equaled about $5 billion!
But Mashable reports that Google may not be out of danger yet. They report that the European Commission must now give competitors a “reasonable period” of time to comment on the deal.
Joaquin Almunia, the European Union’s competition commissioner, told reporters:
“If I receive strong arguments that oblige changes to my decision, I am always ready, I am flexible…I don’t see why, from now on, I would change my mind based on the proposals Google has put forward.”