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Google's Market Power Probed by SenateSeptember 21, 2011 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
Senate hearings on Google began today, sparking renewed controversy over Google's power in the marketplace, including its influence on travel purchases.
The Senate antitrust hearing, “The Power of Google: Serving Consumers or Threatening Competition?” got the attention of many groups, including FairSearch.org who sponsored an opinion survey.
Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, is expected to testify and to defend Google's position.
Critics have expressed concern about Google's purchase of ITA travel search software earlier this year and competitors such as Expedia Inc have said they they were concerned with the Google's new dominance in travel search.
The survey, “Findings From A Survey Of Americans About Antitrust Investigation Of Google In The U.S.” was fielded by Braun Research and sponsored by FairSearch.org.
Main findings cited by Fair Search include: Most Americans support the FTC investigation of Google; The majority of Americans are troubled by Google’s dominance of the online marketplace, both in the abstract and when Google is named and majorities find Google’s business practices unfair.
Over six in ten (63 percent) say it is unfair for Google to use the profits it makes from its dominant position in search advertising to buy smaller, innovative companies at an early stage, preventing them from becoming competitors.
Eight in ten (79 percent) Americans favor the FTC’s investigation of the company for restricting fair competition and misleading consumers. Half (49 percent) say they strongly favor the FTC’s actions.
Over eight in ten (84 percent) say it is unfair for Google to take content from other websites and present it as its own, depriving these other websites of potential consumer traffic.
Three-quarters (74 percent) say it is unfair for Google to raise prices for advertising without notice and to favor large e-commerce companies over small local businesses.
Over six in ten (64 percent) believe a single company that controls 79 percent of the market for a good or service should be subject to existing antitrust laws. Only a quarter (23 percent) say such a company should not be subject to these laws and 13 percent are not sure.
Almost six in ten (57 percent) feel that Google’s control of 79 percent of the search advertising market is bad for consumers. Only a third (33 percent) consider this a good thing for consumers.
Two thirds (65 percent) believe Google’s control of the mobile search market is bad for consumers.
FairSearch.org is a group of businesses and organizations who promote an internet where economic growth is driven by competition, transparency and innovation.
"We believe in enforcement of existing laws to prevent dominant companies from engaging in anticompetitive behavior and to protect investment and choice across the Internet ecosystem," FairSearch.org says, noting its concern that Google is "abusing its search monopoly to thwart competition."
Google and its champions note Google's growth and innovations including most recently its Google Wallet - an app that makes cell phones a wallet allowing users to tap, pay and save using phone. The first version of the app to is being rolled out.