The European Union (EU) keeps going after Google over antitrust issues, but Google won't stand for it. The company just fired back, defending its practices.
Back in July, the EU fired its third round of antitrust charges at Google, claiming that the company was abusing its dominant position to stifle growth and innovation for its competitors. According to the EU, other companies don't get a fair chance to compete and innovate.
EU antitrust regulators further threatened Google in early October, warning the company that if it doesn't change its practices, it will face a hefty fine for violating antitrust regulations.
Google fired back at the EU on Thursday, Nov. 3, refuting allegations that it's abusing its dominant position with its advertising and internet shopping services, shutting out rivals in the process.
The company explains that when people search for something on Google, it aims to deliver the best-quality information possible. Google engineers are always striving to find new and improved ways of connecting users with useful and relevant information and meet their questions with direct answers.
The same strategy applies to online shopping searches, Google explains. For instance, if a user conducts a search for a coffee machine, Google wants to directly connect the user with merchants that sell the product in question. It may achieve this through organic links or advertisements, but the goal is the same.
Google further highlights that it has gradually improved its ad format to offer more detailed displays with prices, images and links where users can buy the products they're looking for. Serving more useful and relevant ads, in turn, benefits not only Google, but also its advertisers and its users.
"That's why we disagree with the European Commission's argument that our improved Google Shopping results are harming competition," Google explains. "We believe these claims are wrong as a matter of fact, law, and economics," adds the company, echoing its earlier response from last year combatting the European Commission's original Statement of Objections (SO).
The company goes on to say the Commission's original SO defined online shopping services so poorly that it even excluded huge services such as Amazon. Moreover, the EC went as far as to claim that when Google users and advertisers got improved shopping ads, Google was in fact "favoring" its own services, which allegedly had a negative impact on some price comparison aggregators.
What the Commission failed to take into account, however, was the major competitive significance of heavyweight companies such as Amazon and the greater dynamics of online shopping, Google further argues.
According to the company, online shopping is highly competitive and there's plenty of evidence to prove that Google and others are actually trying to compete against Amazon, "by far the largest player on the field."
At the same time, Google points out that it proved its ads were helpful not only to merchants, but also to users.
"We never compromised the quality or relevance of the information we displayed. On the contrary, we improved it. That isn't 'favouring' — that's listening to our customers," adds the company.
In its revised and supplemented SO sent this summer, the Commission further said that since sites such as Amazon occasionally pay comparison aggregator sites for referred traffic, they're not considered rivals. Google refutes the validity of this point, arguing that many companies are collaborating and competing at the same time and Amazon actually gets just a small fraction of its traffic from those aggregators. That's hardly enough to entertain the theory that there's no competition between them.
To sum things up, Google says the EU's antitrust claims don't have enough evidence to support its case and would hinder Google's ability to serve its users "just to satisfy the interests of a small number of websites."
Nevertheless, the company pledges to keep working with the Commission to resolve the issues.