You are here

Conflict of Interest

Don't miss the Onion's Google phone spoof!

Good satire like this is rare and precious. 

Don't miss The Onion News Network's new spoof of a Google phone that is paid for with "automated whisper advertising."  

  • It even spoofs how Google Buzz could send automated ads to your contact list using an automated version of your own voice!

The comedy news clip is only 2 min 34 seconds... after a 15 second ad. 

Google's now a little pregnant on Do Not Track

In a big positive and under-reported Google privacy precedent, Google now has agreed to a new important privacy protection principle that people should be able to opt out of having their homes included in Google's StreetView. Just yesterday in Germany, Google went live with a new StreetView op-out offering for Germans.

First, if it is a good consumer protection principle and option for German citizens, why shouldn't it be a good policy and freedom for all citizens to enjoy in the 23 countries where Google has rolled out StreetView?

Google: Looking Out for #1 on Net Neutrality -- Analyzing its Competitive Implications

Google's self-interested proposal with Verizon on net neutrality legislation publicly spotlighted to many for the first time, Google's Machiavellian manipulation of Washington for competitive advantage, i.e. proactively seeking regulation of Google's competitors while ensuring Google remains unfettered by any regulation.

  • Net neutrality activists are now shocked, shocked, that after five years of brilliantly portraying the starring role of the too-good-to-believe "don't be evil" corporate organizer and benefactor of net neutrality, that Google ultimately would just take care of itself, and prove that net neutrality was simply a shrewd means to an end -- best positioning Google to dominate Internet information distribution.
  • The movement's most lovable lambkin, has been unmasked as a capitalist wolf in sheep clothing.

This piece will analyze: why Google surprised everyone; what's in this for Google; and why many like Skype, eBay, Facebook, and the TV business, should be very concerned with Google's Machiavellian positioning here.

Let's deconstruct the Google-Verizon net neutrality proposal from Google's perspective.

Google-opolization -- A one-page chart on how Google monopolizes via search discrimination

To help you better picture how Google leverages its search advertising monopoly via anti-competitive search discrimination in favor of Google information, products and services... and to better connect Google's monopolization strategy with the myriad of current Google actions to embrace and extend its monopoly... please see this one-page chart/PDF: "Google-opolization Through Anti-competitive Search Discrimination." 

For those who really want to understand Google's strategy and how it all fits together, please read and study this one-page chart/PDF, because much valuable work and insight has gone into providing everyone with a big picture conceptualization of Google's monopolization of digital information distribution and the Internet itself.

  • The purpose of the one-page chart is to flesh out the skeletal understanding that many have about Google and its anti-competitive actions.
  • While the chart is visually packed with information that many may find difficult to unpack or digest, the chart itself is an apt metaphor for both how extensive and powerful Google's monopolization strategy is,  and also how difficult it is for all of us to get our head around all the Google information, products and services Google uses to reinforce and extend its un-precedented market power over much of the world's digital information economy.

Please contact me with any ideas of how to make this more clear or if there is anything I have missed -- this is a work in progress.


Japan -- Powered by Google

Japan effectively has outsourced the organization, storage and access to its nation's information, culture, history, and online commerce to one entity, Google, in consenting to a national monopoly search engine/ad platform for Japan going forward.  

  • Unlike Japan's neighbors, China, Korea, and Russia, Japan apparently has chosen to not promote an indigenous Japanese search engine/advertising platform, or to ensure search competition -- a fateful tacit decision that heralds that Japan will more likely become a de facto third world online economy long term.   

Apparently Japan's Fair Trade Commission or Government have not thought through all the huge ramifications of putting all their information eggs-in-one-basket from a competition, cultural, political, economic, privacy, or national security perspective.

Is Google's PR operation pulling a China in Japan?

Google again seems to be presumptuously trying to make official announcements for sovereign governments.

  • In announcing for the Japanese antitrust authority, that the Government of Japan has approved Google's proposed monopolization of search advertising in Japan (by allowing Yahoo-Japan to outsource its search advertising engine and platform to Google), Google appears to be once again imperiously trying to dictate outcomes to sovereign governments in advance and in public.
  • Just like Google tried and failed to dictate outcomes to China over the first six months of this year, it appears that Google has learned nothing about "face" and due respect from its China fiasco and is once again treating a sovereign nation, Japan, as someone that works for Google.   

Doesn't Google's announcement strike anyone else as over-the-top presumptuous?

Google's U.S. revenue share increases to 93.8% in 2Q10 -- Google's EU revenue share is even higher

Google now has 93.8% of U.S. revenue share of search advertising as Google has taken ~20% of the search advertising revenue share that they did not have a year ago.  Google continues to relentlessly gobble up massive search advertising revenue share from its only two significant competitors, Yahoo and Microsoft, in part because:

  • Google's relevant revenues are 20x bigger than Yahoo's and 57x bigger that Microsoft's; and
  • Google is growing its huge base so much faster -- +24% to Yahoo's -8% and Microsoft's +13%. 

Given that these revenue share calculations are relatively easy to do (explained in detail below), and that the key revenue numbers are publicly available, it is amazing how no one in the press that reports on Google antitrust issues discuss revenue market share, which is what really matters in antitrust investigations trying to prove monopoly power.  

Why Privacy Is an Antitrust Issue & Why Google is its Poster Child

The fateful policy decision by the FTC/DOJ to exclude privacy as a factor in antitrust enforcement has fostered a perverse market dynamic where many online advertising companies now effectively compete on the basis of who can most take advantage of consumer privacy fastest, rather than compete on the basis of who can best protect consumer privacy. 

  • Consumers' online privacy Waterloo was the FTC's failure in its 2007 review of Google-DoubleClick to fundamentally understand the online advertising business model, i.e. that consumers are not the "customer" of online advertising, but the "product" that Google and DoubleClick effectively sell to advertisers and publishers.
  • In getting it wrong that consumers are the real "customer" in Google's online advertising brokering-triangle of advertisers, publishers and users, when users don't pay Google at all, the FTC fundamentally misunderstood consumers' real interests.
  • The FTC unwittingly aimed the worst part of this business model's privacy arbitrage at consumers' vulnerabilities rather than aiming it at protecting consumers' privacy. 

This analysis will show: 

  • The implications of exempting privacy from antitrust enforcement;
  • Why privacy is an antitrust issue;
  • How consumers are harmed by exempting privacy from antitrust enforcement; and
  • In conclusion, how Google has become the "poster child" of this problem.  

I.   Implications of exempting privacy from antitrust enforcement.   

37 States now investigating Google StreetView snooping

37 States are now involved in a "powerful multi-state investigation" of "Google's Streetview snooping" per a press release from investigation leader, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who released a new follow-up letter to Google asking for more information and clarification of its representations to date. 

The letter shows the investigation is very serious. Its prosecutorial exactness strongly suggests that investigators believe Google has not been forthright in its answers to date and that it could be covering up material information to the investigation. 

  • Several questions in the letter also indicate that the investigators are seriously concerned about the integrity and completeness of Google's systems of internal controls and supervision to ensure the safety and privacy of consumers. 

What appears to be the most problematic line of inquiry is whether or not Google tested this software before it was used in public to collect private information on consumers. 

Google Fiber Lottery Preying on Distressed Communities

The Google Fiber for Communities pledge to offer one or more U.S. communities ultra-fast Internet access at one gigabit speeds, is Google's latest stealth manipulation of the public.

  • In essence, Google's fiber effort is a cynical national lottery that will result in just one or a few big winners and leave everyone else losers, with nothing to show for all their court jester efforts to entertain and get the attention of Google, the self-described "biggest kingmaker on this earth."
  • Apparently operating under Circus promoter P.T. Barnum's cynical "a sucker is born every minute" world view, Google is preying on the severe economic hardship and unemployment of over 1100 communities, by teasing Google fiber riches for one (or a few).
    • (This isn't the first time Google has preyed on distressed communities to extract the maximum gain for Google, see the sordid tale of how Google took advantage of the job-loss-ravaged town of Lenoir North Carolina -- here.)
  • Google is cynically urging cities to "dream big" when they know they will crush most all of their Google-generated dreams in the end.

How do we know this Google fiber lottery is stealth manipulation?