ICOMP member, Microsoft Corporation today announced its decision to join a growing number of advertisers, publishers, content owners and consumers across Europe expressing their concerns about Google’s dominance in the online search market to European antitrust regulators.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s Senior Vice President & General Counsel announced in a blog post this morning that the company is filing a formal complaint with the European Commission driven by “a broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative” in a market where Google has a 95% market share.
Microsoft’s complaint increases the breadth of the already wide-ranging investigation by the European Commission into whether Google Inc. has violated European competition rules, calling on the EU authorities to examine the “pattern of walling off access to content and data that competitors need to provide search results to consumers and to attract advertisers.” Specifically, this refers to “technical measures” restricting competing search engines and mobile phone operating systems from “operating properly” with Google’s services and limiting interoperability between advertising platforms.
ICOMP believes Google’s conduct and its 95% market share in Europe are of concern not only to Microsoft, but to a broad range of advertisers, publishers and others across Europe. Search is the gateway to the internet and a gateway that is closed to competitors can only have harmful effects on consumers and Europe’s Digital Agenda. Indeed, the economic impact of search dominance in the information society is explored in a, recently published, academic research paper commissioned by ICOMP and co-authored by Martin Cave, London School of Economics and Howard Williams, Oxford Internet Institute and Strathclyde Business School.
The Commission’s competition investigation is crucially important to the preservation and enhancement of competition in the online marketplace. This complaint, coming on top of the many complaints and other submissions already received, will assist DG Competition in understanding not only the facts but also the legal and economic context of Google’s behaviour.
Innovation and the development of online content and the means to access that content is a wonderful thing. The best way of ensuring we continue to enjoy those benefits is to ensure that markets remain open to competition. When you have a 95% market share, you cannot behave in any way you please: you have to ensure that competitors have a chance to compete too.
ICOMP Legal Counsel