In the world of online shopping, coming out on top in search results is a big deal. And if you’re the king of search, as Google is, and you have aspirations of being a major player in ecommerce then you could abuse your power in search to queue jump your competitors. The EU has found Google has been pushing its own products up in search rankings in order to gain what to says is an unfair market advantage. And it’s going to cost Google over AUD$4B in fines.
EU Commissioner Magrethe Vestager said in a statement “What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation”.
The EU has been looking into this for about seven years but it took until 2015 before a formal case was launched.
Google says they will appeal the ruling.
The implications here are significant. With companies like Google looking to embed themselves in all aspects of our lives, it will make the job of regulators difficult as Google, Amazon and Apple use their in-home products alongside their online services to push customers towards their products and services. Finding a balancing point where they can protect their interests without crossing the line into anti-competitive behaviour will be challenging.