Few would deny that Google is the behemoth in the search engine arena, but the real question is whether the company possesses an unfair monopoly. While competing companies are outraged at Google’s near-total control of the online data market, consumers may find significantly fewer causes for concern on the complicated topic.
Google undeniably dominates the search engine market, but this is in great part because consumers choose to use Google over other rival search engines. It’s not the popularity of this search engine that has everyone concerned about Google’s growing advantage, though. The bigger issue, as competitors see it, is that Google’s arms are progressively gaining a longer and more invasive reach into the lives of consumers.
Google as a company goes far beyond the brightly colored letters that adorn the well-known search interface. Google also controls Gmail, YouTube, Blogger, Android, Picasa, and more. Altogether, these companies give Google broad Internet coverage and a deep insight into how consumers act online. Google has the ability to track everything from where you’re mapping your weekend road trip to who you email the most. If knowledge is power, Google has a startling amount of it.
How Google Uses Its Advantage
Google is increasingly using its web of Internet sites as a source of consumer data that it can collect, organize, and ultimately sell to advertisers who are desperate to build a better profile of their target audience. Google Plus was the company’s genius construct to do just that. While the social media site is generally regarded as a flop in comparison to rivals like Facebook and Twitter, Google isn’t flinching. Google Plus is, in fact, serving its purpose by providing a wealth of user data.
To further the usefulness of Google Plus, Google has linked the social site to popular pages like YouTube. Users are now required to link both profiles together, which ultimately helps Google fill out its picture a bit more by adding data about the types of videos you watch to your ever-growing consumer profile.
The Argument Against Google
In addition to gathering information about consumers, many competitors argue that Google also favors its own sites and advertisers in search engine results, giving it an unfair advantage. This point of contention has landed Google in a potentially damaging trial with the European Court of Justice.
The EU isn’t the only one concerned about Google, either. Three of the largest private television networks in France are concerned about a Google monopoly that’ll force it out of the sector. In Brazil, the communications ministry MiniCom has assessed the situation as asymmetric and plans to pursue measures that’ll support freedom of expression in the country. Details of what steps they’ll take are still unclear.
Innovations like GoogleTV continue to extend Google’s reach in new entertainment sectors. With devices ranging from LG smartphones to iPhones and Samsungs connecting seamlessly with the service, the convenience is too much for consumers to pass up.
Google’s Next Moves
Despite the EU lawsuit and other threats of legal action, Google seems relatively unperturbed about the noise of a monopoly. The company, like most everyone, is clearly aware of the dominating stance that it has. When it comes to backing down, consumers shouldn’t expect to see a big retreat any time in the future. While Google did offer its own solutions to appease the EU, it wasn’t willing to roll over and meet all demands.
While competitors are highly invested in slowing Google’s growth and pinning it down as an illegal monopoly, many consumers see far less to fear from the company. Google’s wide-reaching arms make it easy to integrate social media, email, blogging platforms, and online searches. The company’s monopoly comes largely from consumer preference. In a world where the word “Google” is used as a verb, synonymous with performing an online search, it’s unlikely that even the sharpest competitors can gain a real foothold over the company anytime soon.
In the immediate future, expect to see many more innovations from Google both online and in the smartphone and television markets as this company continues to grow.