20th October 2020 will do down as a historical day in the history of big tech. The world witnessed what might be the most aggressive lawsuit ever filed against any big tech company, coming from one of, if not the most powerful government entities on the face of the Earth-the U.S. Department of Justice. However, it looks like Google is ready to get into this fight guns ablazing, and has sent out a pretty strong worded response to the DoJ through a public blog post.
Let’s get some background first. Google has been in the crosshairs of policy makers for over a decade now. However, so far, it has managed to do whatever it wants to do, scot free. But with the recent investigation, and the subsequent court hearing this summer, it looks like Google is finally being held accountable, as the DoJ has taken on the daring task of taking the tech giant to the court, accusing it of misusing its market monopoly for personal gains.
Anyone who has a smartphone and an active internet connection can actually witness Google’s power first hand. From the second you get a phone in your hand, you are already a client of the company. While some phones rely on it for searching needs, others, which use Google’s own OS-Android, are bombarded with apps from the company from the first time they boot their device. Any new Android phone is loaded with Google apps.
However, Google argues that this is nothing unusual, and points out other instances where this phenomena has taken place.
“Yes, like countless other businesses, we pay to promote our services, just like a cereal brand might pay a supermarket to stock its products at the end of a row or on a shelf at eye level. For digital services, when you first buy a device, it has a kind of home screen “eye level shelf.” On mobile, that shelf is controlled by Apple, as well as companies like AT&T, Verizon, Samsung and LG. On desktop computers, that shelf space is overwhelmingly controlled by Microsoft,” the company notes.
Moreover, it adds, “So, we negotiate agreements with many of those companies for eye-level shelf space. But let’s be clear—our competitors are readily available too, if you want to use them.”
It also says that companies like Microsoft are doing the same thing, which offers its own browser-Microsoft Edge, as the default browser, with Bing as the default search engine.
Moreover, the company says that it has promotional agreements with carriers and device makers to feature Google services on Android. It adds that these agreements enable Google to distribute Android for free, so they directly reduce the price that people pay for phones. However, according to the search giant, even with these agreements, carriers and device makers often preload numerous competing apps and app stores.
Then, it goes on to ridicule the DoJ complaint, by showing how easy it is to change your default search engine, which, as crass as it is, actually made me laugh.
The point that Google is trying to make with this is that people choose to use its services. It says that it commands this massive market share, simply because it’s the best. “When Yahoo! paid to be the default search engine in Firefox, most Americans promptly switched their search engine to their first choice—Google,” the company said.
The company also warns that this lawsuit will serve no purpose, apart from denigrating the company for its good work. Moreover, it will also artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use.