Google is the largest search engine in the world today with estimated 100 billion search requests per month. The search market share in U.S. only is 83%; the closest search engine is Yahoo Global with 7%. It started as a research project by two PhD candidates, Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1996, since then it has grown exponentially. Google does not divulge details of the volume of hardware it possesses, but estimates are that it has over 1,800 million servers worldwide at about 35 data centers. The market stock price for Google at its initial public offering (IPO) was $135 and now it is over $755 (Needles and Powers). Google has expanded its business by creating Android mobile operating system, which is the world’s leading platform for smart phones with a 70% market share, surpassing the one of Nokia and Apple. Other areas that Google has invested in include the automobile industry: the company contributed by developing a concept car that would be driverless.
Google is now so powerful that it even knows where there is going to be a flu outbreak before governments do by tracking people searching for flu symptoms. Many question have been raised about Google’s entrance to almost all the markets and then pushing other companies out or buying them out to finish competition. Google is no longer the search engine that was started some years ago, it is a now a big company with tentacles spread everywhere. Google has done all this in an attempt to maximize its market share. It has gone on to acquire several other online companies and those in the technology industry a move that has actually paid off.
I personally think that Google is entering markets that it is not supposed to, and other players in the market should be given a chance to grow. Although, some people may argue that Google’s growth is well in line with free market and it has free will to expand its business. I think that is fair, but the way Google is eliminating competition shows that there is a sinister motive behind it (Maha and Kahya). Google should not be allowed to its strategy and entertaining itself: such behavior will lead to a monopoly. And monopoly could jeopardize the amount of quality and integrity that the company is expected to uphold. By controlling a monopoly, as it seems to do, Google may use this for its own advantage and to the disadvantage of its users. This paper will highlight and provide examples of all the tactics that Google uses to silence competitors.
The first issue is the way Google started its own browser, hence rendering all others players to play secondary roles. Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari had a good share of the market before Google Chrome came into the market. Soon after that, the number of users of the three browsers went down significantly. Google has many good reasons to develop its own browsers, but the bottom line implies that Google is not worried about other companies as long as it satisfies its needs (Maha and Kahya). By January 2013, Google Chrome had over 48% of the worldwide usage share of web browsers. The company has been through many lawsuits, and one of them is the Overture case when Google was in court for patent infringement for using its Adwords service that had similarities to Overture’s search listings. Google later agreed to close the case by issuing 2.7 million shares of common stock to Yahoo them to get a perpetual license (Urlocker 34). By the sheer fact that Google has money, it was able to pay off the competition and settle the lawsuit. This reveals that Google can do anything to stop other companies from growing.
Many people raise questions on how Google ranks websites and the criteria it uses to decide which website appear first. When one looks at how Google ranks its websites, one will find a very peculiar formula. Google U.S. search market share is over 83% which means that Google controls the largest share of the search engine market. It indicates that it may have created a monopoly on the market, which, according to the Sherman Anti-trust act, is a violation of the law (Cefrey 4). Google uses keywords to match what the user has entered with the relevant web content that it has in its database; the more keywords that are associated with the web content, the higher the rank of the page. However, Google offers technical advantages compared to other websites when it comes to companies that spend more money on placing their advertisements: thus achieving a higher traffic of people who visit their pages. It shows that Google gives preferential treatment to its large advertisers. When it does it, smaller companies drown completely because many of them depend on search engines to attract customers. Google chooses whichever websites appear first according to the way they are attracting revenue to Google; they say that it uses an algorithm but no one was able to prove it so far. It reveals Google’s biasness and does not provide a level playing ground (Guynn).
Over the past years, Google is said to have been failing to adhere to the cooperate responsibility that requires it to give back to the community. This can be done by paying returns, in terms of tax. The French government was upset that Google does not pay tax on its French advertisement sales. It happens because the company has channeled its bookings to a subsidiary in Ireland, where tax placed on corporate rates are lower. Under EU law, this system is legal but the president of France warned Google that they were going to review the law (Pfanner). By doing this, Google ended up paying lower returns, and to the wrong country. The returns were paid to the government of Ireland to the disadvantage of the French government. This shows how the company does not consider the advancement of other organizations. By paying lower taxes that it is supposed to, Google ends up having unfair competition in the market. This is because when these competitor companies are paying higher taxes, they are obliged to seek more money for their services and products than Google would.
Google’s financial might made it evolve to an animal that cannot be tamed. When it entered the phone market through its Smartphone mobile platform Android, it destroyed a number of phone companies. Many of the companies resented its entry into the phone market, which it has now almost monopolized (Hitzik). When it comes to monopoly, does it mean that Google is unfair when it buys all its competitors? To the remaining ones it is obviously unfair because it reduces other businesses profit share in the market. In 2010 Steve Jobs, the Apple Inc founder, said, “Google wants to kill the iPhone, we will not let them” in response to Google entering the phone business (Levy 237). It indicates that Google is not being fair to other businesses, and it is proven by a question Steve Jobs raised, “Apple did not enter the search business, so why did Google get into the phone business?”
Another case that demonstrates how Google is becoming a monster to other businesses is the purchase of Picasa, a company that stored photos for people who were users of the application, in 2004. It also allowed people to share photos online. Flickr was the leading online storage and photo-sharing company at that time and it was a start-up by Yahoo, Google’s main rival in the search engine market. Google due to its greedy nature bought Picasa, pumped in its billions and integrated it with other applications steadily eating Flickr’s market share. In addition, unlike Flickr, Google made it free for anybody who used its pro version. This was a clear attempt to phase out Picasa, which had made great strides up to that point. It illustrated how Google is slowly entering all the markets and killing off competition using its financial might and unfair tactics (Levy 239).
Further examples that show Google’s unlimited malicious tactics is, for instance, the number of times when Google tried to come up with a project that would reduce the dominance of Wikipedia, which remains the most popular web encyclopedia (Reich and Daccord 191). In 2008, Google launched a project known as Knol that would rival Wikipedia but it was never successful. At the same time, the Google team in Zurich was working on a similar project called Wooki but it also did not lead anywhere (Levy 240). It indicated that Google’s business tactics were not fair to the small businesses since Google had already created a niche in the search engine market and there was no need to run Wikipedia out of the market. The owners of the above companies are gutted by Google’s tactics (Marks).
Also in 2004 Google bought Keyhole, a web service that gathered high-resolution images of the earth and brought them together to produce massive geographical observations. The purchase was not the problem but the rationale behind it implied that Google felt that nobody else should control it. Eric Schmidt actually said, “We thought it was too fundamental to let somebody else control it.” They then changed its business model and to free one-year subscription rather than $1000 a year subscription fee, and then they integrated it into its Google Maps application to make sure that nobody else had it (Levy). Google continued with snapping up many back-office technology companies and making sure that they do not threaten Google’s place in the business. One of its largest deals was the purchase of Postini, an email spam fighting company, in 2007 for $625 million. Afterwards Google tried to enter the energy business just because its data centers consumed a lot of energy. The project was never really developed, and Google still pursues this idea. It shows that the company is trying its best to enter all the markets available and in doing so kills many small companies.
Google, acquiring a number of companies, did it with such frequency that it was difficult to keep track of what was purchased. Every single week Google rendered a traditional business that had been operating for some time or dropped down the pecking order. One of the famous cases that showed Google’s need to kill off competition was the purchase of YouTube. Many players in the market wanted to buy this portal but Yahoo and Google were the front-runners. When Google heard that Yahoo was holding purchase negotiations with YouTube, Google acted quickly to outrun the competitor. It was done by paying$1.65 billion to close the deal. Notably, this price was over $1 billion more than the asking price. It once again showed the ability of Google to shut off opposition by any means necessary. Very few companies can fight Google when it comes to the financial might. Google offered YouTube a price that they would not turn down, hence killing off any competition (Levy).
Google has gone to court over the years for different lawsuits. In 2005, a federal court in Manhattan was hearing the case filed by a group of authors and publishers suing Google. The class action suit was challenging Google after scanning their copyrighted works without permission, and then creating a database where Google users can search the books. The class action raised a question that was critical: does Google have the right to make copies of copyrighted material? Google would probably profit from this material because a large number of people would not buy the books on bookstores because of availability on Google. Google usual manner of taking down anybody who opposes it even demanded that the owners of the books should opt out if they do not want to be included in their database. A number of concerns were raised from this issue, and the most practical one was the legality of the way Google operated on the web (Sanford and Brown). Many copyright holders felt that Google was jeopardizing their business, which would potentially lead to serious consequences for them. The settlement that was given to the publishers and authors was not fair and it showed how Google uses its might to fight off anybody who tries to go against it. No other search engines can compete with Google at this level. The company now has a dominant role in digital book publishing and no other search engine can boast that. The key issue is the way Google takes home almost all the profit and the copyright holders are not getting anything much (Sanford and Brown). The publishers and authors do not get fair compensation and the only way to ensure it is developing more effective legal frameworks. Google has failed to provide meaningful compensation to the publishers and authors, and it shows that Google is determined to hit its profit targets (Hitzik).
In conclusion, Google has grown to be one of the most profitable businesses in the world; the revenue it collects from the several businesses it has acquired albeit through unfair practices is enormous. Google is the brainchild of its core business, i.e. online search engine, and its expansion to other areas of the market cannot be classified in the same category (Hitzik). By entering the phone market industry with its Android mobile platform, Google rendered a number of phone companies obsolete or struggling to survive (Vise). The Apple founder, who was a good friend to Google authorities before the company came into the phone industry, described them as greedy. As shown in the various examples, Google uses its financial might to overshadow other small businesses and, therefore, it is being unfair to them. Small companies feel robbed off their place in the global market because of these tactics applied by Google. Lawsuits have sprung from all corners of the world including Europe, even the French President Francois Hollande threatened to develop new legislation when Google failed to compensate new sites (Pfanner). Another case that showed Google’s relentless need to drive away opposition was a 2004 purchase of Picasa, a company that offered photo storing and sharing services for users of the application. Google put million worth of investment into Picasa and made it free, unlike Flickr. The latter was the leading company in the field at that time but the entrance of Google to the market, subjected it to come second.
Google’s core business was the search engine domain, but it has recently expanded to almost all markets. It has grown to be one of the most profitable businesses in the world; the revenue it collects from the several businesses it has acquired albeit through unfair practices is enormous. In only 15 years, it acquired users in all the corners of the world and its fortunes sky-rocketed. Most people would say that it is the ideal American story of success. Boasting of numerous applications and market shares in other businesses like the phone industry, one could think that Google cannot be a subject to criticism. However, it has begun to draw skepticism from all corners of the world, including Wall Street, and it has not escaped the wrath of human rights groups. Google is the brainchild of its core business, online search engine, and its expansion to other areas of the market cannot be classified in the same category. By entering the phone market industry with its Android mobile platform, Google has made a lot of phone companies obsolete or struggling to survive.
Steve Jobs, the Apple founder, who was a good friend to Google before the company came into the phone industry, later described it as greedy. As shown by various examples in the essay, Google uses its financial might to overshadow other small businesses, therefore, being unfair to them. Small companies feel robbed off their place in the global market because of it. Therefore, apart from being unfair to other businesses, Google is evolving to a monster that wants to be the world leader. By the sheer fact that Google has considerable assets, it has been able to pay off competition and settle lawsuits. It shows that Google is capable of doing anything to stop other companies from growing.
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