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Monopolization Pattern behind Google-ITA -- "It's the data stupid!"

In buying travel software leader ITA, Google Inc., the self-described "biggest kingmaker on this earth," seeks to expand its ever-expanding digital information empire into the $80b online travel market and establish a dominant "Google Travel" vertical.    

What's most critical here is pattern recognition in order to get perspective on what this Google-ITA transaction means more broadly. 

Pattern 1: Extension of market power via strategic acquisition of first-mover potential competitors.

This proposed ITA acquisition is the latest example of a well-established Google monopolization strategy -- i.e. to buy the dominant or first-mover player in a strategic vertical as a platform to extend its search market power into those markets much faster than it could organically. Note the pattern in the examples below. Google's: 

French revolt against Google's anti-competitive Guillotine

In a trailblazing and ominous antitrust precedent for Google, French antitrust authorities ruled for the first time that Google is a search monopoly that anti-competitively abused its market power by capriciousy cutting off Navx, a Google competitor, from Google's search results without warning.  

  • Per the WSJ, the French authority found Google's hooded anti-competitive actions against Navx lacked transparency and "resulted in discriminatory treatment."  
  • Importantly, the French filed a legal injunction that forces Google to address the situation and answer to the French antitrust authority.

    It is not surprising that the French, who in the world-changing French Revolution rebelled against the absolute power of the French monarchy, are now revolting against Google, the entity that increasingly enjoys absolute power over the fate of web businesses the world over.

    The problem for Google is that in this common sense antitrust decision, the French are effectively playing the role of modern day whistleblower in the famous old fable -- by declaring that Google, the Internet's Emperor, has no clothes on to cover their bare monopoli-ness.

Google: we're "the biggest kingmaker on this earth" -- Googleopoly Update

The evidence mounts that Google is increasingly throwing its monopoly weight around anti-competitively without much apparent fear of antitrust enforcement. This Google antitrust update will spotlight:

  1. New evidence of Google's unfettered "kingmaking" power (lack of search neutrality) to anti-competitively self-deal with highest search rankings and sabotage competitors' rankings;
  2. Google's latest anti-competitive pattern of behavior, i.e. Google's wholesale-retail vertical squeeze play; and
  3. Why the antitrust risk Google faces comes from the EU and the DOJ, not from the FTC.   

I. Latest Evidence of Google's Anti-competitive Search Discrimination:

Google's behavior continues to raise serious antitrust concerns about whether Google's dominant search business is treating competitors neutrally as it claims, or whether it is anti-competitively picking itself and its partners as content winners and its competitors as content losers. 

  • Google's website assures users: "We never manipulate rankings to put our partners higher in our search results and no one can buy better PageRank."
  • Mounting evidence indicates this representation is patently false and a deceptive trade practice. 

A. Search Discrimination:

Why Viacom Likely Wins Viacom-Google Copyright Appeal

Viacom is likely to ultimately prevail in its appeal of the lower Court decision in the seminal Viacom vs. Google-YouTube copyright infringement case.

  • If one only reads either the lower court's decision or the press reports of it, without considering likely appellate arguments and the broader constitutional context of copyright protection, it is easy to missread the likely ultimate outcome here. 
  • Both sides agreed to an expedited summary judgment process in the lower court, because both sides fully expected this case to ultimately be decided at the appellate level, and most likely by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Expect the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to decide Viacom's appeal in 2011 and the Supreme Court to likely take the case and decide it in 2012 -- given how central this case is to maintaining copyright protection in the Internet age.

Why is Viacom likely to prevail on appeal?

Is Mr. Masnick Becoming Google's go-to Apologist?

Has Mr. Masnick of techdirt fame joined Google's legendary PR team as its go to apologist in the blogosphere?

Randy May has must read post on media socialism

For anyone wanting to better understand the big picture threat to our Nation's communications and media infrastructure/business models, please don't miss Randy May's outstanding post: "Not Mao Zedong or a communist... but a Socialist."

Building on the great foundation of work laid down by Adam Theirer of the Progress and Freedom Foundation in this area, Randy adds another laser spotlight on how there are powerful ideological forces championed by FreePress' leader Robert McChesney that seek ultimate government control of both the media and the communications infrastructure. 

The disturbing common thread here that deserves much more attention from freedom-loving people everywhere, is the deeply (and scarily successful) anti-free-enterprise, anti-property, anti-individual-freedom efforts by FreePress in promoting a de facto government takeover of both the media and broadband communications infrastructure.   

  • Look no further than the FCC's proposal to turn the competitive free enterprise of the broadband sector into a de facto public utility over the objections of a majority of members of Congress.

    If you want to learn and appreciate what is really going on ideologically here, don't miss reading Randy's and Adam's important work on this. They are spot on.

Mr. Masnick is Ostriching on Search Neutrality

Mr. Masnick of techdirt fame is putting his head in the sand, just like an ostrich does, in hopes that the danger of "search neutrality" will somehow go away as long as he manages to not see or hear anything about it.

  • Mr. Masnick's head-in-the-sand stance is in full public view in his latest full-throated defense of Google
    • "There Is No Such Thing As Search Neutrality, Because The Whole Point Of Search Is To Recommend What's Best"
  • Since Mr. Masnick's mind is obviously made up, let me present some information and evidence for those who remain open-minded to what is actually happening in the marketplace -- concerning the lack of Google search neutrality.

First, none other than Google's founders railed against advertising causing "insidious" bias in search results -- in their famous Stanford paper on search engines -- see Appendix A

NetCompetition Statement on FCC's Broadband Legal Framework NOI

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June, 17 2010

Contact:  Scott Cleland

703-217-2407

 

 

“FCC Regulating the Internet like a Phone Company Would Enthrone “Ma Google”

“FCC’s Broadband De-competition Policy Would Accelerate Google-opolization of the Net”

 

The Perils of Google's New War on Apple

Google has much to lose in its ill-advised PR and public policy war with Apple, its previous closest Silicon Valley ally.

Antitrust or Fiduciary liablility? Google's recent market behavior puts Google and its CEO Eric Schmidt in a lose-lose situation.

FCC & Google's Extreme Internet Makeover -- A Preview

At its Thursday meeting, expect the FCC to adopt Google's PR script to try and better sell the FCC's upcoming "Extreme Makeover" of Internet regulation.

  • The centerpiece of the FCC and Google's "extreme Internet makeover" plan is the creation of an entirely new, Google-inspired, regulatory classification called "Broadband Internet Connectivity Service" or BICS.
  • The BICS extreme makeover is designed to:
    • Enable the promotion of integrated "edge" products and services like Google Voice, Google TV, and Google's Chrome/Android operating systems; and
    • Empower the FCC to implement its National Broadband Plan on its own without additional Congressional authorization or action. 

Predictably, the FCC's Google-oriented-BICS-scheme has three fatal flaws -- making it a disaster waiting to happen. 

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths