BRUSSELS: Google's concessions to the European Union made in the wake of its June antitrust fine have had a negligible impact on competitors' appearance in shopping search results, according to a new analysis.
Following the penalty, which came with an order to treat both its own shopping services and that of rivals equally from September, Google allowed competitors to bid for space in prominent shopping boxes, previously part of the search company’s proprietary service.
But according to an analysis by the Financial Times, the number of successful bids is low. Competing services appeared in less than 1% of shopping box ads resulting from 500 product searches made by the paper in six different European countries.
The hard-fought remedy to Google’s dominance in this space has drawn criticism, as the search giant continues to benefit. Richard Stables, CEO of comparison shopping site Kelkoo, told the FT that “the main beneficiary of Google’s new way of doing this is, shockingly, Google.
“They’re still popping up on 99% of the shopping product searches and we’re getting very little volume.”
Google says that it has complied with the ruling and is giving competitors the same opportunity to advertise. Furthermore, a source close to the service told the paper that participation was growing.
The landmark case - the result of a seven-year investigation - carried the burden of proving the European Commission’s political muscle, when faced with titanic tech companies.
The EU is continuing to monitor the situation, asserting that “this issue will remain on our desks for some time.” Margarethe Vestager, the European competition commissioner added that “it is for Google to show that they live up to the decision.”
Key to the EU’s problem is that any conclusion that Google is not complying will only trigger another investigation, which could take many years. In a fast moving market, the Commission's slow pace can be easily sidestepped. Since the investigation began, many of the comparison sites in Europe have long since gone out of business.
“What the commission does not get is the network effect on the market,” said Gary Reback, of Carr & Farrell, and a lawyer for the complainants. “When competition is gone, it’s gone and it’s not coming back.”
When the ruling was given in June, Vestager called Google’s actions illegal, arguing “it denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”
Sourced from the Financial Times, The Verge