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Google downplays dominance
Chairman points to ‘competitive landscape’
Google’s executive chairman tried to convince lawmakers Wednesday that the search-engine giant faces steep competition and isn’t as dominant in the marketplace as it’s perceived.
Eric Schmidt testified before the Senate’s antitrust subcommittee that the company fights for business with other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo, shopping sites such as Amazon and eBay, and social-networking leader Facebook, as well as smartphone and mobile application companies, among others.
“One of the main drivers of Google’s constant innovation is the fact that we face an extremely competitive landscape in which consumers have a multitude of options to access information,” Mr. Schmidt said. “If we want consumers to keep coming back to Google, we have to give them the best possible experience. And that pushes us to keep putting consumers first.”
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Google after receiving complaints the search engine is biased when it comes to the order in which it displays websites after users submit a search request.
Mr. Schmidt argued Google, which was founded in 1998, is far from running away with the industry. He hinted that the fiercest competition might not be coming from other search engines but from new technology breakthroughs, such as social media.
“For example, let’s say you’re looking for a local restaurant,” he explained. “You might search on Google for ‘local restaurant,’ but increasingly people are going onto Facebook and Twitter to ask their friends for restaurant recommendations.”
It’s the same story with online shopping.
“Well-known shopping sites like Amazon, Wal-Mart and eBay are essentially search engines that focus on product search and provide customers with an opportunity to buy a good at the end of their search,” he added. “In this category, they have been extremely successful.”
“Frankly, I expected them to attack Google,” he said. “But they didn’t.”
They told him, he said, “It helps us more than it hurts.”
With Google having its fingerprints over so many different types of businesses, allegations that the search engine is giving its own businesses and partners better placement have also surfaced.
Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, attacked Google, accusing them of doing this. “You’ve cooked it so you are always there,” he said.
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About the Author
Tim Devaney is a national reporter who covers business and international trade for The Washington Times. Previously, he worked for the Detroit News, Grand Rapids Press, Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News. Tim can be reached at email@example.com.
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