Just one day before the European Commission officially announced the whopping 2.4 billion euro ($2.72 billion) penalty on Google for unfair and anti-competitive practices with its comparative shopping platform, no less than 7 major technology companies from the United States sent a letter to the EC Commissioner accusing Google of “undermining competition in the United States.”
The letter is very clearly a wake up call to U.S. regulators, and it says as much. After several accusations against Google’s unfair practices, saying that it is hurting innovation and job growth in every sector where it deploys such practices, the letter ends with a clear call to U.S. regulators to use the EC’s penalty against Google as a guideline for regulating Google in its home territory.
It’s fairly obvious that these companies knew about the impending penalty before the EC’s official announcement, since the letter was received the day before, yet referred to the penalty. Could that mean that there’s something going on behind the scenes that the general public is unaware of?
The seven companies in question are Oracle Corporation, Yelp, Trip, News Corporation, Getty Images, News Media Alliance and Disconnect. All of these companies have, in the past, complained about Google’s unfair practices.
They are now using the EC’s decision to instigate regulators in the United States to take similar action against Google.
Google, for its part, has defended itself against the ruling by the EC, with Kent Walker, General Counsel and SVP at Google issuing a statement to the effect that its comparison shopping service was a move to meet the need for an out-of-the-box solution for consumers to be able to compare prices from various e-commerce websites.
Over the next few months, we are likely to see a grouping of companies into two camps: those that support Google and those are are against it. The latter will most likely be the larger group, of course, but it will be interesting to see if retailers take Google’s side. Most of them spend millions advertising on Google.
To say the least, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.