12 Mag Google Presentation on ‘Google, Competition and Openness’ Shared With Justice Department and Myths Debunked by Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog, May 8, 2009
Consumer Watchdog has sent the U.S. Justice Department a Google document presenting the best corporate arguments for why Google should not be viewed as monopolistic, along with a duplicate of the presentation marked up with comments from an expert countering the claims. The nonprofit consumer group received both documents from an anonymous industry insider. In the presentation, Google seeks to deflate increasing criticism that it is too big and powerful by spin meant to minimize the notion its search and advertising businesses are virtual monopolies. Commentary surrounding the presentation in the second document delivered to Consumer Watchdog presents information countering Google’s contentions in what is described as a “Charm Offensive.” “As the Justice Department examines the Google book deal and other Google enterprises it deserves to see the play book Google has prepared to deflect scrutiny and insider commentary on how many Google myths lack a basis in reality,” said Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court. “Google’s charm and spin should not be allowed to deter anti-trust regulators from seeing the real problems with Google’s dominance and setting appropriate limits to protect users.”
Among the points made in the analysis of the presentation are these:
Though Google says it has only a 30 percent share of 2008 online advertising revenue, its 2009 1st quarter revenue increased 6 percent. By comparison Yahoo!’s 1st quarter online advertising revenue plunged 13 percent and Microsoft’s fell 16 percent.
Among the big four — Google, Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo! — Google takes in 65 percent of online revenue.
Google’s presentation says that technology models evolve quickly, citing as an example the move from dial-up dominated by AOL to broadband dominated by telecom companies like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast. The analyst points out Google’s propensity to buy companies offering new technology citing: YouTube, DoubleClick, Grand Central, Picassa, Keyhole, Blogger, Feedburner, Baidu, dMarc, Orion, JotSpot, AdScape, Jaiku and Postini.
Google’s presentation concludes, “Google welcomes competition because it stimulates innovation, makes us all work harder, and provides users with more choice.” The commentary reaches a different conclusion: “[Google’s] charm offensive doesn’t match actions… “Competition: All for it when DOJ believes you’re anti-competitive and seeking to extend monopoly, but different tune when marketing advertising dominance of AdWords, Page Rank, etc. “Openness: Pushes ‘open’ on competitors, but not itself… Among the most non-transparent on ad auction system, quality score, Page Rank, use of private user data, Google.org, etc.” “Privacy: Silence is deafening … No discussion here at all of privacy record, despite practices being high on FTC/Congress agenda and privacy groups…” Consumer Watchdog, formerly The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization.