Search engine competitors in the EU released an e-konomica report critical of Google’s October 2013 settlement offer claiming it provides “a way for the company to grow its advertising revenues by increasing paid advertising space and decreasing space dedicated to organic search results.” The Wall Street Journal reports that Google accounts for about 90% of the EU searches which led to anti competitive complaints 3 years ago by Google’s EU competitors which include a group led by Microsoft known as the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace (ICOMP). In December 2013 ICOMP released the e-konomica report, and ICOMP’s attorney David Wood made this comment about Google’s settlement offer:
These proposals cleverly disguise a new revenue stream as a solution to its market dominance.
Computerworld reported that EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told Spanish radio station Radio Nacional de EspaA+-a that Google settlement offer is “…not acceptable in the sense that they are not proposals that can eliminate our concerns regarding competition and in particular regarding the way Google’s rivals in vertical search are being treated.”
Nonetheless the Wall Street Journal reported that “Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has said that he still hopes to reach a settlement by next spring.” Google and the EU would prefer a settlement since otherwise Google could be fined “10 percent of its annual global revenue.”
Although this EU antitrust action is moving slowly, it is important to follow since the consequences to Google could be enormous.