Making Results Better For End Users Isn't Acting Like A Monopolist

from the and-again-and-again-and-again dept

With the Justice Department getting closer and closer to going after Google for supposed antitrust violation, we're going to see more and more articles like the one in the New York Times this weekend that tries to highlight the story of a company "harmed" by Google's market power. In this case, it's the story of a guy who runs a directory site that was based entirely on Google arbitrage. He bought ads on Google's search engine to drive people to his directory page, and then littered the page with AdSense to collect revenue from people clicking through. The NY Times presents this as being somewhat harmful, but I have to side with Jeff Jarvis who doesn't see what Google did wrong.

Google arbitrage sites are a problem for the end user. They're based on the simple concept of forcing people to go an extra click to siphon some money away. If I'm looking for a particular site on Google I don't first want to go to a directory -- I want to go directly to the site. That's true for many, many users -- and Google's efforts in punishing arbitrage sites isn't anticompetitive, it's about improving the user experience, which is something that should be praised, not sued. The only problem noticed in the scenario was that the guy chose a bad business model, where he was totally reliant on a single company for both all of his traffic and all of his revenue. He made the decision to base his entire business on a single supplier, and that supplier has every right to change the terms of its deals in an effort to make a better consumer experience. This isn't Google being anticompetitive -- it's Google serving its customers.
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Filed Under: antitrust, arbitrage, monopoly, search results
Companies: google


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2008 @ 2:26pm

    9 - Just to play devil's advocate:

    It may prove valuable if it is presented in a manner that individuals find more intuitive or more pleasing to the eye. It may prove valuable if it presents a key group of advertisers relevant to a more specific search term. If I type in "turtle exuding wax like substance" and google gives me "Turtlewax" links, then it got it wrong. But if this guy recognized "turtle exuding substance" and linked me to veterinarians, then he's providing value.

    So maybe he WAS providing something more than google. Maybe not the actual links to content, but maybe in his keyword recognition or his layout.

    It's stupid to say that a "directory" doesn't provide more than Google if Google index all those sites in the directory. Someone else can come along and index the same sites and provide value superior to Google - Google did it to Yahoo and Dogpile and Altavista and Webcrawler and AskJeeves.

    So he could have been providing value - but I do agree that there is no way for him to provide evidence that Google is being anticompetitive. In fact, how can you be anticompetitive with someone who is using your service? If a manufacturer starts using a different kind of paint for their toys (ahem, Chinese lead paint tastes delicious), then you either stop selling their product or put a warning label on those toy cars. Right?

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