Tag: barriers to entry

The European Commission has received three complaints against Google for anti-competitive practices. The complainants are Microsoft’s Ciao, UK price comparison site Foundem and French legal search engine ejustice.fr

“The Commission has not opened a formal investigation for the time being. As is usual when the Commission receives complaints, it informed Google earlier this month and asked the company to comment on the allegations. The Commission closely cooperates with the national competition authorities. No further information can be given at this stage.”

Although the complaints are different (see articles below), the common feature is that Google has used its dominant market position to the detriment of competitors and consumers. Not surprisingly, Google has vigorously defended itself against the accusations.

So just what is the case against Google? Are the complaints justified, or are they merely competitors whinging about their relative lack of success? The following articles look at the facts and the issues.

EU launches antitrust inquiry into Google ‘dominance’ Times Online, Mike Harvey (24/2/10)
Google Says It Faces Competition Complaints in Europe BusinessWeek, Brian Womack and Joseph Galante (24/2/10)
Google faces anti-monopoly probe by European Commission Guardian, Andrew Clark (24/2/10)
Why Europe could prove Google’s undoing Guardian, Bobbie Johnson (24/2/10)
Analysis: not evil? Are you sure? Times Online, Mike Harvey (24/2/10)
Google faces Brussels antitrust scrutiny Financial Times, Richard Waters and Nikki Tait (24/2/10)
EU Opens Antitrust Investigation Into Google. Microsoft’s Fingerprints Are Everywhere. Washington Post, MG Siegler (23/2/10)
Google Hit With Antitrust Probe in Europe PC World, James Niccolai (23/2/10)
Is Redmond The Puppet Master In Google EU Anti-Trust Investigation? search engine land, Greg Sterling (23/2/10)
Google Under Investigation by European Union PCMag, Mark Hachman (24/2/10)
EU inquiry points the searchlight on Google’s methods Telegraph, Kamal Ahmed (24/2/10)
Google under investigation for alleged breach of EU competition rules Telegraph, Kamal Ahmed (24/2/10)

Questions

  1. What is the case against Google? Does this make it in breach of EU competition law?
  2. Assess Google’s response.
  3. Is Google “doing anything to choke off competition or hurt our users and partners”?
  4. How could competition be increased for Google? Is this likely to happen?

In February 2009, the world’s largest concert ticket agency, Ticketmaster, and the world’s largest concert promoter, Live Nation, announced that they intended to merge. The deal would have been worth around £550 million. This immediately sparked concerns that the new company would have such power in the market that ticket prices would rise. On 10 June 2009, the Office of Fair Trading, in line with the 2002 Enterprise Act, referred the proposed merger to the Competition Commission.

On 8 October 2009, the Competition Commission published its preliminary findings that “the creation of that situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition (SLC) in the UK market for the primary retailing of tickets for live music events”. The following articles look at the findings and the competition issues. You will also find links below to the Competition Commission press release and the Provisional Findings Report.

Competition body opposes Ticketmaster and Live Nation merger Guardian (8/10/09)
Competition watchdog vetoes Ticketmaster deal Times Online (8/10/09)
The Competition Commission has ruled against the proposed Ticketmaster / Live Nation merger MusicWeek (8/10/09)
British Regulator Objects to Ticketmaster Merger New York Times (8/10/09)

See also the following documents from the Competition Commission:
Press Release
Provisional findings report

Questions

  1. How would the proposed merger benefit the two companies concerned?
  2. How would it affect CTS (the second largest ticket agent in the world)?
  3. From the consumer’s perspective, what would be the potential advantages and disadvantages of the merger?
  4. What additional evidence would the Competition Commission require to make its final judgment?