Google’s a monopoly – in France

It finally happened. Granted, it happened in France, but it happened. Google is a monopoly.

I’m not sure the French authority’s position, though, would hold in the U.S. I’m particularly speaking of this bit:

“Discriminatory practices may harm competition,” the authority said, “when customers of a company holding a dominant position find themselves disadvantaged in the competition on their own market.”

In other words, it does not matter that Navx is not a competitor to Google. Because Google is dominant in its market — Internet search word advertising — it must act almost as a government agency, with clear rules that can be understood in advance and are fair to all.

This is sort of new ground, I think. At least part of that, though, is the nature of Google’s product—Google doesn’t sell computers or license APIs or provide telephone service. Google, instead, sells advertisers access to consumers. And if Google decides that certain advertisers don’t get access to those consumers, well, that’s certainly going to have an effect on competition. Not in the search advertising industry (or even in the online advertising industry—let’s remember that Google owns DoubleClick, so it’s basically got online advertising all sewn up), but it does affect competition.

I’m interested to see how this decision is received here in the U.S. And I’ll be following its progress through the French agency (this ruling was just an interim ruling). Stay tuned!

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