Image via Flickr / brionv
Google's getting close to settling a slew of antitrust accusations with European authorities, so close that the two parties are bargaining. On Thursday, the search giant made an offer: Since everybody thinks that Google controls too big a share of the market, Google will share the love by linking out to three of its competitors. This probably isn't going to fly.
You see, Google's problem — at least in the eyes of regulators from the European Union — isn't just that they own over 90 percent of the search market. The EU says that the company also gives preferential treatment to its own ever-expanding menu of products. Google's proposed settlement would sort of address the market share problem by linking "to three rival specialized search services close to its own." But authorities remain miffed about how Google continues to show Google products above other results in search. Experts say the links are a nice gesture but not hardly enough.
These are not new complaints. Google's been catching flak for antitrust-related issues for ages. A couple years ago, Yelp, Expedia and a few other companies took Google to task for its allegedly favoring its own products in search. There was even a congressional hearing and a probe by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) but no real consequences come of the kerfluffle. That is, Google didn't change its approach enough to keep the EU off its back.
Ultimately, whether or not it actually does give special preference to products like Google News and its own baked in travel tools might not be be the point. At this point, it's about what Google can get away with. As we've pointed out in the past, the company's happy to buy its way out of trouble when it needs to.