The association contingency now finish a control within 90 days or face chastisement payments of adult to 5% of a normal daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s primogenitor company.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in assign of foe policy, said: “Google has come adult with many innovative products and services that have finished a disproportion to a lives. That’s a good thing. But Google’s plan for a comparison selling use wasn’t usually about attracting business by creation a product improved than those of a rivals. Instead, Google abused a marketplace prevalence as a hunt engine by compelling a possess comparison selling use in a hunt results, and demoting those of competitors.
What Google has finished is bootleg underneath EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies a possibility to contest on a merits and to innovate. And many importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and a full advantages of innovation.“
Google’s plan for a comparison selling service
Google’s flagship product is a Google hunt engine, that provides hunt formula to consumers, who compensate for a use with their data. Almost 90% of Google’s revenues branch from adverts, such as those it shows consumers in response to a hunt query.
In 2004 Google entered a apart marketplace of comparison selling in Europe, with a product that was primarily called “Froogle”, re-named “Google Product Search” in 2008 and given 2013 has been called “Google Shopping”. It allows consumers to review products and prices online and find deals from online retailers of all types, including online shops of manufacturers, platforms (such as Amazon and eBay), and other re-sellers.
When Google entered comparison selling markets with Froogle, there were already a series of determined players. Contemporary justification from Google shows that a association was wakeful that Froogle’s marketplace opening was comparatively bad (one inner request from 2006 settled “Froogle simply doesn’t work“).
Comparison selling services rest to a vast border on trade to be competitive. More trade leads to some-more clicks and generates revenue. Furthermore, some-more trade also attracts some-more retailers that wish to list their products with a comparison selling service. Given Google’s prevalence in ubiquitous internet search, a hunt engine is an critical source of trade for comparison selling services.
From 2008, Google began to exercise in European markets a elemental change in plan to pull a comparison selling service. This plan relied on Google’s prevalence in ubiquitous internet search, instead of foe on a merits in comparison selling markets:
- Google has evenly given distinguished chain to a possess comparison selling service: when a consumer enters a query into a Google hunt engine in propinquity to that Google’s comparison selling use wants to uncover results, these are displayed during or nearby a tip of a hunt results.
- Google has demoted opposition comparison selling services in a hunt results: opposition comparison selling services seem in Google’s hunt formula on a basement of Google’s ubiquitous hunt algorithms. Google has enclosed a series of criteria in these algorithms, as a outcome of that opposition comparison selling services are demoted. Evidence shows that even a many rarely ranked opposition use appears on normal usually on page 4 of Google’s hunt results, and others seem even serve down. Google’s possess comparison selling use is not theme to Google’s ubiquitous hunt algorithms, including such demotions.
As a result, Google’s comparison selling use is many some-more manifest to consumers in Google’s hunt results, while opposition comparison selling services are many rebate visible.
The justification shows that consumers click distant some-more mostly on formula that are some-more visible, i.e. a formula appearing aloft adult in Google’s hunt results. Even on a desktop, a 10 highest-ranking ubiquitous hunt formula on page 1 together generally accept approximately 95% of all clicks on ubiquitous hunt formula (with a tip outcome receiving about 35% of all a clicks). The initial outcome on page 2 of Google’s ubiquitous hunt formula receives usually about 1% of all clicks. This can't usually be explained by a fact that a initial outcome is some-more relevant, given justification also shows that relocating a initial outcome to a third arrange leads to a rebate in a series of clicks by about 50%. The effects on mobile inclination are even some-more conspicuous given a many smaller shade size.
This means that by giving distinguished chain usually to a possess comparison selling use and by demoting competitors, Google has given a possess comparison selling use a poignant advantage compared to rivals.
Breach of EU antitrust rules
Google’s practices volume to an abuse of Google’s widespread position in ubiquitous internet hunt by gloomy foe in comparison selling markets.
Market prevalence is, as such, not bootleg underneath EU antitrust rules. However, widespread companies have a special shortcoming not to abuse their absolute marketplace position by restricting competition, possibly in a marketplace where they are widespread or in apart markets.
- Today’s Decision concludes that Google is widespread in ubiquitous internet hunt markets via a European Economic Area (EEA), i.e. in all 31 EEA countries. It found Google to have been widespread in ubiquitous internet hunt markets in all EEA countries given 2008, solely in a Czech Republic where a Decision has determined prevalence given 2011. This comment is formed on a fact that Google’s hunt engine has hold really high marketplace shares in all EEA countries, surpassing 90% in most. It has finished so consistently given during slightest 2008, that is a duration investigated by a Commission. There are also high barriers to entrance in these markets, in partial given of network effects: a some-more consumers use a hunt engine, a some-more appealing it becomes to advertisers. The increase generated can afterwards be used to attract even some-more consumers. Similarly, a information a hunt engine gathers about consumers can in spin be used to urge results.
Google has abused this marketplace prevalence by giving a possess comparison selling use an bootleg advantage. It gave distinguished chain in a hunt formula usually to a possess comparison selling service, while demoting opposition services. It mutilated foe on a merits in comparison selling markets.
Google introduced this use in all 13 EEA countries where Google has rolled out a comparison selling service, starting in Jan 2008 in Germany and a United Kingdom. It subsequently extended a use to France in Oct 2010, Italy, a Netherlands, and Spain in May 2011, a Czech Republic in Feb 2013 and Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Poland and Sweden in Nov 2013.