January 20 was a rough news day for Apple and Google; it started with information regarding a class-action lawsuit pertaining to handshake no-poaching agreements, and from there we have news of just how onerous the iBooks 2 policies are for new authors. Now it’s back to Google, where the company seems to be “tying,” a term used to describe a company with a dominant position in one space used to force users to purchase a product or service they do not want.
It turns out the search engine leader many would call a monopoly is forcing account users to join Google+. MSNBC details a work-around, but who knows if it will last? Perhaps it is there to prevent the DoJ from expanding its antitrust probe?
I discussed tying in a recent post – not coincidentally about Google+ -- on Christmas Eve of last year and just a few weeks later, the company is at it again. I suppose we will have to leave it to the lawyers at the DoJ to decipher whether Google’s activities harm or help consumers, but consider the following:
Google’s customers are advertisers and in the last few years, Google has been under page view bragging rights assault by Facebook and, as a result, has a diminished capacity to increase its prices due to free market competition from the social networking leader. This is in part due to the fact that advertisers are spending much of their advertising dollars not on Google ads but instead on promoting Facebook pages. If Google uses tying, an illegal practice to reduce the growth of Facebook, and subsequently will be able to get advertisers to reconsider their reliance on Zuckerberg's social network, then the consumers being damaged are the advertisers.
This in turn means all of the advertisers on Google will have in effect higher marketing costs, which most will pass along to their consumers i.e., most of the people reading this article.
Of course you could also argue Google is making the world of the user better because Google+ has all sorts of benefits, but what is really scary for someone who lived through over a decade of Microsoft monopoly-inspired, new market annihilating dominance is the speed with which Google is able to leverage its search and related services to harm the competition in ultra-rapid fashion.
And if this isn’t bad enough, Google – a staunch supporter of the anti-SOPA movement -- is doing the exact thing it doesn’t want the government to do. They are the judge, jury and executioner between many sites and their ability to survive financially.
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