Search bundling flap for Google's Google+ plugs heats up

At issue is going to be whether Google's search results and Google+ are the modern day equivalent of bundling.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Google's move to highlight Google+ in its search results is getting tech commentators and potentially U.S. regulators twisted in knots.

At issue is going to be whether search results are the modern day equivalent of bundling. Microsoft got into a heap of trouble by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. The same argument is being made for Google bundling Google+ in results. One company's personal search is another's anti-competitive Facebook killer. You could argue that the Google-Google+ alignment merely highlights the social silo scenario.

The LA Times noted that the Electronic Privacy Information Center may file a letter with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to look into the Google-Google+ connection.

The ruckus breaks down like this:

  • Some argue the results amount to bundling.
  • Google argues that Facebook and Twitter could be in the results if they played ball with the search giant.
  • Regulators aren't talking---yet.

Cutting through all the histrionics on this one may be tricky. If I'm betting on this flap, I'd go with the line that says regulators are going to be poking around. Should Google have to open up its personal search to other services such as Facebook and Twitter on better terms?

Editorial standards