Google is having to undergo the stringent examination of competition regulators in both Europe and the US, with Reuters reporting this month that the EU competition commission is still undecided as to whether the search giant is compromising consumer search experiences, due to its near monopoly.
Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), across the pond is still awaiting a final decision in its own antitrust examination of Google.
Even Google’s Eric Schmidt did not seem certain about how things were proceeding when he spoke to the Wall Street Journal recently. He confirmed that Google has been in constant contact with both companies, but seemed to suggest that the onus was on these bodies to actually reach a conclusion.
Mr Schmidt pointed out that each should have all the evidence they need to make a decision and said that he is still optimistic that Google will be exonerated.
One of the reasons for Mr Schmidt’s confidence appears to be the existence of rivals to Google, which sit outside of the traditional web space in which it operates.
He cited Apple’s Siri as being a major player in this, since it allows people to make web searches without going through Google’s traditional channels, or even using a web browser at all. Apple provides proprietary search tools, which could, arguably, make it open to its own competition investigation.
Of course, if the Siri argument is found to be compelling, then it could spell bad news for Google in the long term, because it will find its share of the search market sapped by emerging rivals in the mobile space.
It does seem likely that Google will find favour in Europe and the US, because the delay in the decisions from regulators seems to be down to a general lack of evidence against the search giant, rather than the ongoing debate over particularly complicated issues.
There has actually been a good deal of communication between not only Google and the regulators, but these bodies themselves. Web Pro News suggests that the longer window of deliberation afforded to those in the EU, might later help the FTC formulate its action, or lack of it, in the US.
The impact for those attempting to optimise websites and improve their rank on Google’s SERPs could be relatively small, although if it is decided that this particular search company is not damaging consumers because there are plenty of emerging competitors, then the long term implications might be quite different.
Google’s dominance is being challenged from a number of areas and the example of Apple’s Siri is particularly pertinent, because it shows how mobile technology is allowing consumers to search in entirely new ways.
If individual device manufacturers are able to kick Google off devices then it could face losing some of its market share. This would be more worrying, were it not for the fact that its own Android operating system is the most popular on the smartphone market at the moment.