Hearings in the case in which the US Department of Justice accuses Google of monopolizing the web search market have been ongoing for two months. When examining a case, information often comes to light that the company itself and its partners did not want to voluntarily disclose.
This time Google announced a list of the most popular searches (from five years ago); talked about the mechanisms for pre-installing applications on partner smartphones; explains why there are so many ads in search results for tourism queries; It was revealed that an antitrust investigation in Europe forced the company to improve the quality of its search service; and Mozilla representatives confirmed that dropping Google as the default search was a bad decision.
The list of most popular searches for the week beginning September 22, 2018 specifically included iPhone, car insurance, airline tickets, telecommunications providers and online cinemas. All of these searches generated significant revenue for Google through advertising in the SERPs. The list once again confirmed that the collaboration between Google and Apple is mutually beneficial – 3 out of 20 of the most common search queries relate to the iPhone.
Google employee Jamie Rosenberg, who works in Android and Play Store, confirmed that the company requires Android smartphone makers to ship devices with 11 Google applications – and not necessarily install them by default. In addition, there is a Revenue Sharing Agreement (RSA) negotiated with manufacturers and operators. Not only does it offer pre-installation, but it also offers the default choices of Chrome as a browser and Google as a search engine, and in return the search giant shares the revenue with the partner. According to Rosenberg, this motivates partners to more actively produce and sell Android devices, and the consumer does not lose out because the company’s products are “Best in Class”.
A representative of the travel network Expedia complained about too much advertising in Google search results for specialist queries. In order to stay in the search, the company was forced to significantly increase advertising costs: in 2015 it paid $ 21 million, in 2019 it already paid $ 290 million. At the same time, the number of migrations from Google to Expedia sites did not increase. The owner of the aggregator network said this was due to direct competition with Google’s own services – during the same period, the company began publishing its own data on flights and hotels in search results. The company’s head, Sundar Pichai, responded that Google’s travel services have become one of the company’s most popular developments.
In 2018, the European Commission imposed a €5 billion antitrust fine on Google and required the company to offer Android device owners in the region a selection of the five most popular search services in each country. In response, Google adopted a plan to improve service quality in Europe. In Germany and France in 2019 and 2020. It was decided to significantly increase the presence of local content: news, football videos after matches, streaming possibilities of local TV channels, as well as materials for practicing pronunciation in different languages. The aim of the initiative was to encourage Android device owners to select Google as their default search. This incident became an argument in support of the Justice Department’s position: without competitive pressure, according to the department, Google does not have enough incentives to improve the quality of its products, and this is a classic consequence of a monopoly position.
But the Firefox story, on the contrary, confirmed the position of Google, which insists that it dominates the market solely due to the high quality of its services. In 2014, Mozilla, the company responsible for developing the browser, entered into an agreement with Yahoo! — According to the conditions, this service turned out to be the default search in Firefox. Yahoo! agreed to pay the browser developer $375 million a year, while Google only offered $276 million for it. The new partner did not live up to the trust: the company promised to reduce the volume of advertising in search and reduce tracking of users, but in practice the presence of advertising only increased. As a result, Firefox began to lose its already modest user base. In the three years that the browser spent without Google, Chrome’s market share increased from 50% to 65% – perhaps the number of Firefox users would have decreased anyway, but chance played into Google’s hands.