Friday, July 20, 2018

"Google uses bizarre tactics to dominate rivals and confuse their customers, search engine claims" (GOOG)

From The Independent:

Google controls the web address, meaning users searching for its rival DuckDuckGo are diverted back to Google
For many people, Google is the internet. It now dominates almost all aspects of our online lives, from how we search for information, to how we navigate from one place to another. But the route Google has taken to achieve this supremacy has been ruthless, illegal and occasionally unconventional.

For 85 per cent of smartphone users that have Google's Android mobile operating system, the slew of apps that come pre-installed on the device are often owned by Google. This includes the popular Chrome web browser and Google search engine, meaning users are forced to download competing apps through the Google Play Store if they want to use them. But data shows that only 1 per cent of people ever download a rival search app and only 10 per cent download a new browser.

A record $5 billion fine from the European Commission over Google's uncompetitive Android practices yesterday will precurse an unbundling that will no longer force smartphone makers to ship devices with pre-installed Google apps. It was the largest penalty ever levied against a single company and comes in the midst of a geo-political trade conflict between the US and Europe. The ruling even prompted US President Donald Trump to wade in with one of his inflammatory tweets.

But competitors to Google have since revealed the unorthodox practices that Google continues to use to maintain its near-monopolistic position.

Google rival DuckDuckGo, an internet privacy firm whose products include a search engine and a browser, responded to the EU crack down in a series of tweets revealing how Google has acted to assert its search dominance. Examples include preventing the DuckCuckGo search engine from being added to Chrome on Android, while featuring the Chrome widget prominently on most Android builds.

"We have felt its effects first hand for many years and has led directly to us having less market share on Android vs [Apple's] iOS," the privacy-focussed search engine stated.

"Their anti-competitve search behaviour isn't limited to Android. Every time we update our Chrome browser extension, all of our users are faced with an official-looking dialogue asking them if they'd like to revert their search settings and disable the entire extension."...