This week Lord Watson, ICOMP’s Chairman, had a letter to the editor published in The Economist. His letter highlighted the various antitrust issues facing the online marketplace.
The letter, which was published on July 21st 2011, is attached in full below.
The ICOMP Secretariat
SIR – Your article on the antitrust issues facing Google glossed over the fact that the online marketplace sees itself as under attack from Google in several significant ways (“Google’s enemies”, July 2nd). Google is the overwhelmingly dominant online connection for customers to business. This dominance, along with its restrictions on access to YouTube and its book-scanning project, are real causes of concern, not least to artists, authors and other content creators.
Google uses Universal Search to leverage its dominance in a panoply of online markets, including video, e-commerce, vertical search, mobile and social media. This follows a spate of strategic acquisitions that has rightly attracted regulatory interest because of the destructive impacts on competitors in each market.
The websites of these highly innovative competitors can be downgraded, penalised and occasionally removed without warning. The well-documented cases of Foundem, OneNewsPage and eJustice.fr are cases in point. The exclusion of competing search engines from Google’s own expanding portfolio of services, and the preferential link provided to it by its Android-powered platforms, suggest its dominance is extending into the rapidly growing mobile world.
Concerns about these anti-competitive strategies are shared by all of us who want an open and trusted internet that enables knowledge and commerce, while empowering citizens and customers. They are echoed by regulators engaged in multiple investigations around the world. It is clear that real competition in search is far from being a click away, and that creativity and true innovation face the delete button.
Lord Watson of Richmond
Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace