The Google Monopoly Over Internet Search: A Visually Compelling Analysis

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It no secret to anybody using the internet that Google is king. Google is the undisputed champion of internet search with over 94% search share; the next closest competition stands in comparison with a less than 2% share!

So does that make Google a monopoly?

Rand Fishkin, one of the rare people I trust in the search industry field of analysis and study, makes a compelling case on his blog SparkToro about how and why Google is a monopoly, stifling competition and innovation.

spark toro Google monopoly rand fishkin

Here is Rand Fishkin’s analysis of the chart:

  1. Google, as the chart above illustrates, is absolutely, unquestionably a monopoly in web search. They have more than 90% of the market in the United States, and over 95% globally. Only in China, South Korea, and Czech Republic are those numbers lower. Three good sources back this up: StatcounterJumpshot, and Merkle. The old Comscore data you might find from 2009-2014 showing Google with “only” ~67% of searches is no longer accurate (and it probably never was). Tragically, in much of the early reporting on this issue, a source called “NetMarketShare” was cited as showing Google with ~70% market share. That number is horribly wrong, and it appears the reporters did not understand how to use the source they referenced (NetMarketShare also shows Google above 90% market share in the US when the correct filters are applied), nor do they include Google’s other properties (most notably Images, Maps, & YouTube).
  2. Lacking cost does not preclude the possibility of having a monopoly. Radio is free to listen to. Broadcast TV is free to watch. Yet both have been long subject to US government regulation and guidelines that ensure a diversity of companies hold sway over the airwaves. These are perfect corollaries to Google — they require a device to access them, but then provide (at least some) content without further charge.
  3. The crux of the argument isn’t whether Google is a monopoly (although it is). The DOJ isn’t trying to ascertain whether Google has dominant market share (at least, that’s our best understanding from the initial reports). Instead, they’re (probably, wisely) asking if Google’s practices violated antitrust law. As Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island said in a news conference Monday, “This is about how do we get competition back in this space.”

So what has Google done that could be considered “unfair competition” and where should the Dept. of Justice investigate?

It’s Rand’s opinion that the strongest cases for antitrust against Google rest in the following three areas:

  1. When Google’s search engine has made highly visible portions of its search results accessible exclusively to its own properties, often before those properties are the clear, obvious, or only high quality result.
  2. When Google uses their search engine to aggregate data from multiple third-party publishers, then presents it to search consumers as though it were created by Google alone, without any attribution or credit.
  3. When Google used its Android operating system and its dominant search engine to distribute its Google Chrome browser (a practice that continues, albeit with less forcefulness now that Google’s, arguably, won the browser share market).

Original story found here.

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