Yelp joins critics gunning for Google over Europe search settlement

Few if any of Google's rivals support its European antitrust search proposal and it now has one more critic from the US: Yelp.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Local search company Yelp, best known for its community restaurant reviews, has joined the queue in Europe calling for competition regulators to put a stronger leash on Google when it comes to search.

The European competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia is all ears at the moment after recently sending "pre-rejection" letters to those who had lodged antitrust complaints with the EC, hoping to convince the companies that the current proposal devised by Google sufficiently address concerns over its dominance of the European search market.

One more company Almunia may be listening to is Yelp, which filed an official objection to the proposal in June, according to the New York Times.

Yelp may add weight to complaints over the current proposal, which says Google must place links to three rivals' services whenever it promotes its own specialised search services, such as local search or shopping. Until the agreement becomes legally binding, Google wont indicate when it promotes its own services.

As noted by the New York Times, the San Francisco-based company is a much smaller player in search than Google, but one of the biggest US companies besides Microsoft to formally object to the settlement. Others that have complained include UK-based Foundem.

Almunia admitted earlier this month that the proposal is likely to suit all tastes, however he's keen wrap up the settlement before he leaves office this autumn.

He's also defended the proposal against claims from a German publishing house that it amounted to nothing more than a money-spinner for Google, since rivals will have to bid in auction for the three allocated links.

Yelp's CEO Jeremy Stoppelman aired his complaints in a letter to European Commission president José Manuel Barroso, flagging the company's intent to lodge a formal complaint.

"I truly fear the landscape for innovation in Europe is infertile, and this is a direct result of the abuses Google has undertaken with its dominant position," wrote Stoppelman, according to the New York Times.

Yelp confirmed to ZDNet it has filed a complaint with EC however declined to comment on the matter. Almunia's office had not responded to questions at the time of writing.

While Google's Europe search settlement may be nearing an end, Almunia's office is currently looking into complaints about other aspects of its business, including objections to Android, its App Store, and YouTube.

Read more on this story

Editorial standards