In a blog post last year, Amit Singhal, the former head of Google’s search and ranking team, acknowledged Google’s dominance in search, but repudiated claims of unfair practices by noting fragmentation in the search and intent market. Singhal cited competitors like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Pinterest, which aren’t core search engines but have still gained share of the digital shopping intent pie.
In today’s regulatory statements, the European Commission rejected this argument because it believes that “comparison shopping services and merchant platforms [like Amazon and eBay] belong to separate markets.”
Google is also trying to beat EU antitrust allegations around its Android operating system, because smartphone and mobile providers must use Google as the default search if they preinstall Google’s mobile OS.
There’s a chance the EU’s regulatory approach might migrate to the US. The Federal Trade Commission is also probing Google’s Android OS to examine concerns over market dominance, reported The Wall Street Journal earlier this year.
But the European Commission has more incentive than its US counterparts to take strong action against Google – and it has nothing to do with nurturing European tech startups. As European commentators recently noted, landing blows against Google has become a popular political tactic, in France and Germany in particular.