Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

Summary: Google confirmed that the Federal Trade Commission was looking into the company's business practices, but said it wasn't sure what regulators were after exactly. A translation of Google's first volley.

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Google confirmed that the Federal Trade Commission was looking into the company's business practices, but said it wasn't sure what regulators were after exactly. A company blog post appears to fall back on the company's original "do no evil" mantra from its initial public offering filing. Google's argument: We work for users, innovate and don’t lock people in.

That latter point will be critical in any FTC trial---should an investigation go that far. Google has near monopoly status in search, but the company's argument has always been that consumers could use something else. The problem with that argument is that there's really only one search provider at scale---Microsoft's Bing. And Bing is still dwarfed by Google. Word leaked out that the FTC was planning a broad probe into Google's business practices and whether it was abusing its search power to drive traffic to its own properties over rival sites and services.

With that backdrop, let's read between the lines of Google's blog post on the FTC matter.

Google: "We respect the FTC’s process and will be working with them (as we have with other agencies) over the coming months to answer questions about Google and our services. It’s still unclear exactly what the FTC’s concerns are, but we’re clear about where we stand. Since the beginning, we have been guided by the idea that, if we focus on the user, all else will follow."

Translation: Google is doing a public service and regulators are probing needlessly. And yes, Google knows that Microsoft said something similar about its Windows-Internet Explorer bundle. And so what if we point to our own sites---we are better. Does it kill anyone if a search on email goes to Gmail first? It's all about the user. Search email on Bing and Yahoo, a Microsoft partner, is first.

Google: "Instant answers. New sources of knowledge. Powerful tools—all for free. In just 13 years we’ve built a model that has changed the way people find answers and helped businesses both large and small create jobs and connect with new customers."

Translation: Regulators are messing with a public service if they start screwing around with our ad model. Ditching free services doesn't help the consumer.

Google: "Search helps you go anywhere and discover anything, on an open Internet. Using Google is a choice—and there are lots of other choices available to you for getting information: other general-interest search engines, specialized search engines, direct navigation to websites, mobile applications, social networks, and more."

Translation: OK, we know we have this tremendous market power, but we have to say that you have search choices. We all know that none of you are going to use any alternative other than Bing.

Google: "Because of the many choices available to you, we work constantly on making search better, and will continue to follow the principles that have guided us from the beginning."

Translation: Don't be a hater just because we try to be relevant, label ads, are transparent and generate loyalty. Can we help it we're so successful.

Google: "We’re committed to giving you choices, ensuring that businesses can grow and create jobs, and, ultimately, fostering an Internet that benefits us all."

Translation: We threw in that job creation line because the economy stinks and that'll ratchet up some political pressure on the watchdogs.

Related:

FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google: Is search giant too dominant?

In this economy, is a Google antitrust probe "un-American?"

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Topics: CXO, Google, Government, Government US, IT Employment

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77 comments
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  • In other words they put smaller companies out of business

    and Google now links primarilly to sites that support [i]their[/i] adds, or their own sites first.

    yet they're doing it all "for the public's interests, not theirs".
    Will Pharaoh
    • I still trust Google over Microsoft!

      @Will Pharaoh
      .... but I won't give either my personal data/information to store on their clouds!
      kd5auq
    • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

      @Will Pharaoh What kind of big baby throws a fit about being on the bottom of page one? You're not much less noticeable there, and to be honest...I take non-sponsored results more seriously than I do sponsored results which are stuck up at the top of the page. I actually block that box and all advertisements anyway. Why? Because no computer really ever can have a helpful idea of what I really want, because they fail to understand simple things like context and such. Ads served based on keywords found on pages I visit? Purely useless, and that's exactly the model Google has going on.
      ZazieLavender
      • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

        @ZazieLavender Yup. I remember when I first got a Gmail account. Their keyword-based ads were hysterical! SO far off the mark 99.9% of the time.
        TimePassing
    • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

      And they buy other products companys like sagetv to say screw you to the users and then lock out everyone.
      rparker009
  • Message has been deleted.

    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

      @Cylon Centurion
      "Besides, there's only one thing that works for the users, and that's TRON."

      Nice.
      x I'm tc
    • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

      @Cylon Centurion
      Love the TRON reference! TRON lives!
      12stringer1975
    • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

      @Cylon Centurion
      +1. "Enough with the bull. Besides, there's only one thing that works for the users, and that's TRON." Very good one. :D
      Ram U
    • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

      @Cylon Centurion
      "ChromeOS sounds like lock-in to me. After all, you are stuck using the Chrome browser."

      Locked into what? If you want to run a different browser, install another operating system.
      Theli
      • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

        @Theli Interesting - Wasn't this perceived behavior that caused a lawsuit to be filed by the European Union against Microsoft?
        athynz
      • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

        @Theli @athynz <br>Chrome OS DOES NOT HAVE THE SAME MARKET SHARE AS WINDOWS DOES! That was the driving reason for the EU suit, and while I feel as an American that the lawsuit was patently ridiculous, I feel as a consumer it was reasonable but not lawsuit worthy, and I feel that if I were in MS' position I'd do the same without being sued anyway...but the government, or my lawyers, would need to ask nicely.<br><br>MS never prevented the user from using IE to go out and get a replacement browser, which is why I thought the lawsuit was ridiculous and never would fly in America. Yes Windows relied on some IE files to operate, but that isn't a monopolization...and if you never use IE more than once to navigate straight to the site to download the browser of your choice, well that's hardly locking you in at all. :/

        From an IT standpoint, despite hating IE with a passion myself, I would NEVER ADVISE anyone to uninstall IE completely. Some Microsoft services STILL REQUIRE IE. Because no open source browser will support ActiveX, and some things that Microsoft offers REQUIRES ActiveX STILL, you shouldn't go without IE.

        Things especially surrounding Windows Media Player's DRM and such are especially the prime example. (Explaining why IE-Free versions of Windows DO NOT include Windows Media Player eh?)

        That aside, IE is still required for a few small things in Windows that Microsoft still offers online, and that's really the only safe place to use and require IE anyways.
        ZazieLavender
    • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

      @Cylon Centurion Stupid.

      Obviously if you don't like Google Chrome or Chromium as a browser you are NOT FORCED to install Chrome OS. Simple as that really; Chrome OS never has had (yet) the same market share Windows does. In Microsoft's case, I agree 2/3 with the EU rulings that require MS to give you a CHOICE.
      ZazieLavender
      • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

        @ZazieLavender

        So by your point, if a company has smaller market share(Chrome OS), then they need not give any choice(like use only Google chrome). But if it has larger market share(Windows) then they have to give choice?

        That really seems to be a justified statement.

        Lets say Chrome OS gets large market share by this version itself. Do you think Google will give choice to the Chrome OS users about using firefox or safari?
        spicycheeks
  • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

    @Linux Geek millions of jobs? Can you also give a list of "real innovations"
    pupkin_z
    • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

      @pupkin_z You're saying that Google doesn't innovate?
      epitax
    • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

      @pupkin_z
      Google already listed some of its innovations.
      And millions of people work from home because of google while making big $$$.
      Linux Geek
  • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

    @Linux Geek
    If Google so good to jobs creation in USA, they should close the development centers they have outside of the USA. Development center in Bangalore, India comes to mind first. They should close that center and bring the jobs here first. No, they won't do that. So how come you claim they created millions of jobs here. Last time when I checked most of the developer jobs are for either Microsoft technologies or Java Technologies in addition to Mainframe and other, but Google (I give them Android development) and Apple (iOS development) are still in fraction of percent when compared to .NET and Java jobs. I don't see them millions of jobs unless you claim Java is Google's research and development, not Sun's or its current owner Oracle. If I were you, I would just the holes and keep quiet instead of trolling without any base to the arguments.
    Ram U
    • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

      @Rama.NET
      the us economy is at a tipping point. it can not grow without outside market. as an example: can anybody in the uk film industry produce a megahit costing aprox. $350 million? of course none. even if everybody in the uk have to pay $6 to watch the movie, they can only manage to recoup the production cost. and how about the distribution, and incidental expenses? the us economy had grown so big that it cannot sustain its growth by catering to internal market exclusively. that is why the think tanks of this great nation are doing their best to expand to foreign market. but unfortunately, business is like a two-way street. my musing...
      kc63092@...
  • RE: Google confirms FTC probe: Translating what the company really means

    @Linux Geek
    >>And millions of people work from home because of google while making big $$$.
    You mean claiming their unemployment, or just using google to spam people from their basement and make big $$$? Pleaes be clear. :D
    Ram U