Google’s enemies appear to have persuaded the European Union to reopen its inquiry into whether the search giant uses its status as a de facto monopoly to hurt rival businesses.
Google has a roughly 90% dominance of search in Europe.
The probe could expand to cover Android, too, the Guardian reports.
EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia told Bloomberg on Sunday:
“Some complainants have introduced new arguments, new data, new considerations,” the EU antitrust commissioner said. “We now need to analyse this and see if we can find solutions, Google can find solutions, to some of these concerns that we find justified.”
The news will be celebrated over at Yelp, which has long argued that Google pushes down its results in favour of its own properties, even when Google’s websites offer lower quality search results.
It’s not clear whether some of that “new data” came from Yelp. But what is known is that earlier this year, a document circulated within Yelp that demonstrated the way the company believes it is being cheated by Google.
Google generally says that it returns the best search results it possibly can for any given search query. But the Yelp document shows a heatmap tracking the behaviour of a bunch of web users who were overtly searching for restaurant reviews on Yelp. The heatmap shows what people actually click on once they get their search results. Because Google inserts links to its own products, like Google+ and Google Local, under “natural” search results, many people who are searching for Yelp results actually end up on Google’s pages, the document suggests.
The document also noted that Google still sends a majority of searchers to Yelp — so it’s not clear to what extent Google is helping or hurting Yelp.
In this investigation, we received a lot of complaints. We have been trying to obtain from Google proposals to overcome the difficulties and the concerns. Now with the last version of proposals we came back to the complainants. The complainants sent us replies during the summer. Some of these replies are very very negative.