In a notoriously dynamic and fluid internet market, Google reigns supreme. The largest advertising company in the world, Google has set a new global standard for success. Like most successful companies, Google is constantly expands profit opportunities. Unlike most of those successful companies, Google doesn’t limit the scope and range of its business ventures. Search, advertising, video, TV, blogging, mobile, communications, and social networking are merely a handful of markets Google is active in. The company name itself tells us a success story. “Google” has become common language – one of the outcomes of a successful marketing strategy. Forbes Magazine’s Nine Key Attributes of Reputation rank Google 1st in Innovation, 1st in People Management, 2nd in Use of Corporate Assets, 1st in Social Responsibility, 1st in Quality of Management, 1st in Financial Soundness, 1st in Long-term Investment Value, 2nd in Quality of products/services, and 1st in Global competitiveness. Hard to believe considering their biggest venture of the year, Google Glass, was such a failure.
Google holds an incredible 67 percent of the U.S. search engine market
On top of this failure, just last week Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s Competition Commissioner, accused Google of abusing its dominance in web searches. This marks this the first time antitrust charges have been brought against the juggernaut tech company. However, Google doesn’t seem too worried. Officials said in a blog post Wednesday, “while Google may be the most-used search engine, people can now find and access information in numerous different ways – and allegations of harm, for consumers and competitors, have proved to be wide of the mark.” This pending media frenzy is just one of several incidents that raise the question: is Google a competitive victor or an evil monopolist?
Let’s look at what makes Google so successful. First, they dominate online search: they hold an incredible 67 percent of the U.S. search engine market (Bing a distant second at 18.7 percent), 87 percent of the U.S. mobile search market, and host over 187 million monthly visitors. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin created Google with the intention of indexing as much of the web as possible, and providing the best possible results for search phrases. They believed if they focused solely on the user, all else would follow – which it has.
The bottom line is that Google did not create the search engine, nor does it create the content it provides. It has no geographical control anywhere in the world, and nearly all of its consumer services are free; meaning it doesn’t have the power to raise prices and no ability to exclude competitors or block access to competing services
Next, ask yourself a few important questions. What is the marketplace that Google is supposedly monopolizing? The search universe? Desktop browsers? Mobile phone OS? The whole internet? No. Google’s range of business ventures is so expansive that it cannot be said to dominate any particular market. Second, monopolies are known to kill innovation, something Google is clearly obsessed with. Google is constantly working on innovative projects that are seemingly necessarily for its survival. The bottom line is that Google did not create the search engine, nor does it create the content it provides. It has no geographical control anywhere in the world, and nearly all of its consumer services are free; meaning it doesn’t have the power to raise prices and no ability to exclude competitors or block access to competing services.
It’s perfectly legal for a company to compete by serving its users, no matter how high its market share or how much its rivals suffer as a result. What has truly given Google so much success is its combination of clever algorithms, advanced search operators, and sophisticated ad programs (AdWords) that has quickly propelled Google to the top of the market. In other words, it was the value Google created for its customers that powered its rise. This is in fact the opposite of a monopoly.
Generally, as a company’s size and influence grows, and their decisions affect millions of people, it can be a mistake to characterize them as evil because they did something people didn’t like. Almost all Google services have both free and open alternatives and commercial competitors. Yet, despite holding a staggering market share and widespread industry support, Google does not play God. Their formal corporate slogan “Don’t Be Evil”, has stuck true. So far.
2. Singhal, Amit. “The Search for Harm.” Official Google Blog. Google, 15 Apr. 2015. Web. 19 May 2015.
3. Smith, Craig. “By the Numbers: 80 Amazing Google Search Statistics and Facts.” DMR. 13 May 2015. Web. 19 May 2015.