Google is misusing its dominance of the search engine market to “muscle its way” into other online businesses and establish a “Microsoft-like monopoly” in key areas of the web, according to a report from the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog.
The report alleges that Google has used its search to seize market share in other areas, like online maps, shopping and video, which ultimately limits consumer choice. The group blames the launch of Google’s “Universal Search” tool in 2007, which it says favors the company’s products on the search results page.
“Google claims that its search is neutral,” said John M. Simpson of Consumer Watchdog. “This study shows that it’s not and demonstrates the damaging impact Google’s unfair practices have had on competitors.”
The report is part of Consumer Watchdog’s Google Privacy and Accountability Project, which is “intended to open Google’s largely secretive practices to public scrutiny.” Former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter Glenn Simpson wrote the report based on Internet traffic data from more than 100 popular websites.
“The data shows that Google has established a Microsoft-like monopoly in some key areas of the web. In video, Google has nearly doubled its market share to almost 80 percent,” the report states. “That is the legal definition of a monopoly, according to the federal courts, which have held that a firm achieves ‘monopoly power’ when it gains between 70% and 80% of a market.”
“The ultimate significance of these developments is that they spell a rapid decline in choice for consumers.”
Google told the San Francisco Chronicle the report’s premise and methodology are flawed and said its search practices are designed to benefit users.