Google Receives Ultimatum from the European Union

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Google has only a number of weeks to state what they plan to do to address the alleged exploitations they have committed due to their search engine top position.  Joaquin Almunia, European Union Antitrust Chief, handed down the decision to Google after an 18 month investigation into Google, which Google will have the decision to abide by or risk a lawsuit.

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Google currently holds the top online search engine market spot in Europe and around much of the world.  It’s big business for any company with online visibility to ensure a high as possible ranking in key word searches, ideally in the number one position as that’s the link that has been proven to be clicked the most.  Google has the power to put a website to the top or bottom of given searches, and it’s not fully known how the online giant differentiates from one website to the other.  Because of this and the fact that there are only a couple other search engines that can remotely compete with Google, the EU has investigated and decided that Google must do something to even out the playing field as “these fast moving markets would particularly benefit from a quick resolution of the competition issues identified,” said Almunia.  The antitrust chief went on labelling search result “preferential treatment”, copyright problems, advertizing “restrictions”, and advertizing “portability” as they four issues that have been found.

Google now has the option to follow the EU’s recommendations in the coming weeks, otherwise a full prosecution will follow, which could be lengthy and costly to Google. Also, this will further poor publicity for the company.  Google’s spokeswoman has mentioned that they are willing to discuss the issues with the EU, although they strongly disagree with their findings.

The question is, has Google in fact abused their strong position in the market, and either way, what will Google do next in this case?  Let me know your thoughts.

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