Cleland served as Deputy United States Coordinator for Communications and Information Policy in the George H. W. Bush Administration. Eight Congressional subcommittees have sought Cleland’s expert testimony and Institutional Investor twice ranked him the #1 independent analyst in his field. Scott Cleland has been profiled in Fortune, National Journal, Barrons, WSJ’s Smart Money, and Investors Business Daily. Ten publications have featured his op-eds. For a full bio see: www.ScottCleland.com.
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Apparently Google hopes to convince the new European Commission to buy into the same market predicate that it convinced Mr. Almunia to accept — that the fast and ever-changing Internet marketplace has rendered lasting market dominance and antitrust enforcement obsolete.
Like a magician or illusionist, one can make another believe anything if they can misdirect their attention from what is really going on.
Google’s latest misdirection ploy is to focus the media and the new EC on its new “peak” PR narrative that its search and Android dominance is at a “peak” — with the implication that Google’s market position is fleeting and will only go down from here because fast-changing innovation and competition will naturally supplant it.
And by extension, if people accept that Google’s dominance is “peaking” then they can more easily be convinced that Google’s dominance could decrease naturally without any government intervention.
This “peak” market frame is clever misdirection because it distracts people from focusing on how Google is broadly abusing its market dominance to extend its market power into additional, adjacent, and nascent markets.
However, a new competitor or innovation can only have a chance to supplant Google, if Google does not neutralize or dominate the new competitor or innovation first.
And that is unlikely because Google’s unique data dominance ensures that Google can spot new market demand, or an emerging competitive threat, very early so it can buy the nascent competitor, hire their key people, or just copy/steal the new product or service innovation.
Consider how Google already has leveraged its search and index data dominance to head off or neutralize several potential emerging competitive threats to its dominance, e.g. Apple’s iPhone, iPad, & App Store via Android, Maps, Play, Chromecast, & YouTube; Facebook’s social network & sharing via Google+, YouTube, Hangouts, & Photos; Amazon’s store & Web Servicesvia Shopping, Drive, & Compute Engine; and Microsoft’s software and Bing via Chrome, Toolbar, Docs, Apps for Work/Education, Gmail, Android, etc.
Google’s “Peak” narrative
Stratechery posited “Peak Google” because “native advertising” could eclipse search advertising like Microsoft’s PC software eclipsed IBM’s mainframes. Business Insider echoed Stratechery: “People are beginning to talk seriously about Google’s search business becoming irrelevant.” Quartz echoed again “Google’s dominance in search is nearing its peak.”MarketingLand echoed it for Android “Have We Reached ‘Peak Android’?” WSJ echoed it again on Android “Google’s Android Begins to Top Out.” And from the FT’s Lex subscription product: “Google: soul searching; Search is losing share in digital advertising.”
John Battelle spotted the “Peak” narrative and the common sense hole in Google’s PR misdirection: “A number of “Peak Google” pieces are in the air. But let’s not forget that Google has multi-billion dollar businesses in Android, YouTube, Ventures, and Apps/Drive et al. And it’s making plays in auto, healthcare, and energy. I don’t think Page is resting.”
Expect more on this “Peak Google” PR narrative in the weeks ahead as Google tries to quickly persuade Ms. Vestager, like it convinced Mr. Almunia, that Google’s dominance has peaked and that any antitrust enforcement of search, Android, etc. would be unnecessary and wasted effort.
However, the evidence shows Google’s market power is not declining, but actually proliferating virally.
Google even admits it.
In the case of its social network Google+, Google boasted in a December 2012 blog post: “Today Google+ is the fastest-growing network thingy ever.” About the same time Google Chairman Eric Schmidt boasted: “Almost nothing short of a biological virus, can scale as quickly, efficiently or aggressively as these technology platforms and this makes the people who build, control and use them powerful too.”
Consider the facts that Google’s dominance is proliferating.
It is no coincidence that Google now dominates four additional search-related markets: video-YouTube, mobile-Android, location-Maps, and browser-Chrome. Tellingly, Google controls 5 of the 6, billion-user, universal web platforms: search, video, mobile, maps, and browser. That’s not peaking dominance; that is proliferating dominance.
Google also leads in 13 of the top 14 commercial web functions of the Internet data economy and is #2 in the 14th: #1 in data collection, search, tracking-analytics, digital advertising, mobile, video, location, browser, Internet Infrastructure, consumer-Internet of Things, Apps store, translation, & email; Google is #2 & #3 in social with YouTube & Google+.
In short, the European Commission needs to guard against getting distracted by Google’s misdirection in the “Google peaking” narrative.
What matters is how Google is abusing its dominance to maintain its overwhelming dominance in data, search, and search advertising, and to extend virally its dominance into a plethora of additional, adjacent and emerging markets.
And remember that Google’s data, search and search advertising dominance is lasting, precisely because Google is the only ecosystem in the world where: users and buyers can go for ~all information; publishers can go for ~all advertisers, readers, and viewers; and advertisers and sellers can go for ~all users and buyers.
No other entity can match Google’s data, search, and search advertising scale, scope, reach and capabilities.
[Note: For the detailed analysis of why Google’s data, search, and search advertising dominance are vast, purposeful, lasting and harmful, be sure to see: Google’s WorldWideWatch of the WorldWideWeb.]
Google Unaccountability Series
Part 0: Google’s Poor & Defiant Settlement Record [5-1-12]
Part 1: Why Google Thinks It Is Above the Law [4-17-12]
Part 2: Top Ten Untrue Google Stories [5-8-12]
Part 3: Google’s Growing Record of Obstruction of Justice [6-21-12]
Part 4: Why FTC’s $22.5m Privacy Fine is Faux Accountability [7-12-12]
Part 5: Google’s Culture of Unaccountability: In Their Own Words [8-1-12]
Part 6: Google Mocks the FTC’s Ineffectual Privacy & Antitrust Enforcement [8-10-12]
Part 7: An FTC Googleopoly Get Out of Jail Free Card? [8-30-12]
Part 8: Top Lessons to Learn for Google Antitrust Enforcers [9-14-12]
Part 9: Google Mocks EU and FTC in Courting Yahoo Again [9-26-12]
Part 10: FTC-Google Antitrust: The Obvious Case of Consumer Harm [11-25-12]
Part 11: Why FTC Can’t Responsibly End Google Search Bias Antitrust Investigation [11-27-12]
Part 12: Oversight Questions for FTC’s Handling of Google Antitrust Probe [11-30-12]
Part 13: Courts Not FTC Should Decide on Google Practices (The Hill Op-ed) [12-10-12]
Part 14: Troubling Irregularities Mount in FTC Handling of Google Investigation [12-17-12]
Part 15: Top Ten Unanswered Questions on FTC-Google Outcome [1-3-14]
Part 16: Top Takeaways from FTC’s Google Antitrust Decisions [1-7-13]
Part 17: Google’s Global Antitrust Rap Sheet [1-31-13]
Part 18: Google’s Privacy Words vs. its Anti-privacy Deeds [3-8-13]
Part 19: Google’s Privacy Rap Sheet Updated – Fact-checking Google’s Privacy Claims [3-13-13]
Part 20: DOJ & FTC Report Cards [4-12-13]
Part 21: The Evidence Google Bamboozled EU Competition Authorities [4-19-13]
Part 22: EU-Google: Too Powerful to Prosecute? Problems with Enabling Google [5-1-13]
Part 23: Google’s proposed EU Search Bias Remedies: a Satire [5-17-14]
Part 24: Google’s Antitrust Rap Sheet Updated [5-27-13]
Part 25: Is This the Track Record of a Trustworthy Company? See Google’s Rap Sheet [6-6-13]
Part 26: Top Questions as DOJ-Google Criminal Prosecution Deadline Approaches [7-12-13]
Part 27: The Evidence Google Violated the DOJ Non-Prosecution Agreement [8-8-13]
Part 28: Implications of EU Ruling Google Abused its Search Dominance [9-27-13]
Part 29: Google-YouAd is a Deceptive and Unfair Business Practice [10-24-13]
Part 30: EU’s Google Antitrust Problems Not Going Away [12-16-13]
Part 31: How the Google-EC Competition Deal Harms Europe [2-10-14]
Part 32: Open Letter to European Commissioners to Reject EC-Google Settlement [2-16-14]
Part 33: Google’s Extensive Cover-up [2-25-14]
Part 34: An Open Letter on Google’s Opposition to Distracted Driving Legislation [2-27-14]
Part 35: Google’s Widespread Wiretapping [3-20-14]
Part 36: The Growing EC-Google Competition Settlement Scandal – an Open Letter [3-31-14]
Part 37: Google’s Glass House [4-14-14]
Part 38: Google’s Titan Spy-Drones Mimic Military Spy Planes [4-17-14]
Part 39: Google’s Anti-Competitive Rap Sheet Warrants Prosecution not Leniency [4-30-14]
Part 40: Google Apps for Education Dangers [5-17-14]
Part 41: Google AdSense Lawsuit Spotlights the Corruption of Unaccountability [5-23-14]
Part 42: Six Ways the FTC is AWOL on Google [7-16-14]
Part 43: Fact-checking Google’s Public EC Competition Defense [9-21-14]
Part 44: Top 10 Reasons Why Google is Causing EU More Problems than Microsoft Did [10-1-14]
Part 45: Google Profiting from Hacked Celebrity Women Photos is “How Google Works” [10-6-14]
Part 46: Fact-checking Google Schmidt’s “Ich bin ein Big-fibber” Berlin Speech [10-14-14]
[Originally published at PrecursorBlog]