Today, EU antitrust authorities began another lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of abusing its dominance of the European search market to favor its own comparison shopping service, concluding an investigation the Commission began into Google Shopping in late 2010. They also opened a new investigation into whether Google forces mobile device makers using the Android operating system to favor Google’s apps.
“Rather than celebrate the technological evolution of the market, Europe’s regulators are still fighting the last war,” said Geoffrey Manne, Executive Director of the International Center for Law & Economics. “In the nearly four years it has taken the EU to bring this lawsuit, traditional search engines have lost their central relevance, especially for comparison shopping. Today, consumers can and do use mobile apps like Amazon, Facebook and Yelp to find products, restaurants and more. This constrains Google’s apparent ‘dominance’ of search. Such apps are also becoming increasingly popular on desktop devices, which are becoming more and more like mobile devices. Fundamentally, the very way consumers ‘search” for information online has changed radically, but you wouldn’t know that from the EU’s myopic focus on Google’s general search page.”
“Brusselcrats don’t know a good thing for consumers when they see it — at least, if it’s ‘Made in the USA,’” said Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom. “Android is the most open operating system on the market today, allowing users to install an endless variety of apps, even through alternative app stores not approved by Google. This new investigation sounds like a continuation of the Franco-German obsession with ‘replacing’ Google’ with European alternatives, which recently led the EU Parliament to call for Google’s breakup — without actually waiting for any legal charges. Antitrust law shouldn’t be a tool for protectionism — or for technocrats to second-guess the preferences of European consumers.”