Online competition continues to be harmed by the internet advertising monopoly Google. Most recently Reuters reports DuckDuckGo founder, Gabriel Weinberg, as saying “it is difficult to make his DuckDuckGo the default search site in Google’s Chrome web browser, and that Google disadvantages his company in the Android mobile operating system as well”. Weinberg’s search engine promotes itself as one that does not track users’ personal information. The Reuters article reported that Weinberg listed a number of ways in which his site had been penalised by Google. For example “the Android wireless phone comes with Google as the phone’s standard search mechanism… DuckDuckGo can be added as an app to a mobile device, which is less convenient than being the default search engine” and that “his company had tried to buy the duck.com domain from its previous owner, On2 Technologies, but was rejected. Google eventually acquired the domain when it bought the entire company, and redirects duck.com traffic to Google.com”.
Echoing these complaints, NetImperative today posted an article which reported that “Big Tall Direct, one of the largest online web-sellers of clothes for the big and tall man, has experienced a precipitous drop in new customer traffic as a result of what appears to be new methods by Google to determine who appears on the first page of search results important to this big and tall retailer”. The article notes that “Since 1997, Big Tall Direct normally appeared in the organic listings in positions 1, 2 or 3 which are critical to any internet retailer’s success… recently, however, the rank has dropped precariously to position 54 without any advanced warning”. Furthermore the article continues to state that, “When a user types ”big and tall”, or “big and tall clothes” as his search words, Google lists traditional department stores with no independent specialty stores being displayed any longer in the top results.” President of Big Tall Direct, Rob Schlein commented that “I feel like Google has small family businesses under full assault in favor of the large multinational corporations with big advertising budgets, yet who do a poor job of servicing our particular niche”.
In the face of on-going competition investigations on both sides of the Atlantic, Google’s actions continue to harm online businesses and limit consumer choice.
The ICOMP Secretariat