Is Google Really Too Powerful?

On October 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a complaint against Google for multiple violations of the country’s antitrust laws. The process that will begin is to complete lengthy months of investigation, have the 4 CEOs of GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) heard in front of Congress and speed up the process regarding Google. .

The giant is accused of abusing his dominant position. In particular, through an annual contract of several billion dollars with Apple, Google is set to become the standard search engine for Safari. The search engine is also very favored by the Android mobile operating system, which was also created by Google. Logically, we also find the Google Chrome browser on Android smartphones. This entire ecosystem, which is used by billions of internet users around the world, makes Google too powerful an actor that uses its position to leave no chance for other actors to emerge.

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Google’s answer to that? The fact is that his tools are the best and that is why they are used so much, but internet users can very well choose Bing, Firefox, etc. “People use Google because they want to, not because they have to or can find other solutions. This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers, ”said Kent Walker, vice president of global affairs and general counsel of the company, in a statement.

The practices of Google in particular have meant that competitors could not see the light of day or prosper. Surfing the internet is dominated by the giant. It is enough to look at the market shares of the strategic sectors of the company to realize this. Similar but expanded work was done by our WSJ colleagues.

Google destroys search engines

Search engine market share. DuckDuckGo and Yandex do not appear, each of which has 0.5% of the world market. Source: StatCounter / Search Engine market share worldwide in September 2020

According to Google, it is the main gateway for internet users to the internet. The company’s search engine occupies a very strategic place to generate revenue or redirect the user to its various services, of course beyond the service offered. For these reasons, the company spends huge sums of money to ensure a presence on safari and pay the EU fines without too much complaint.

Android is available

The proliferation of mobile operating systems around the world. Apple and Google dominate, but there are some initiatives, especially Samsung with Tizen or KaiOS. Source: StatCounter / Mobile Operating System market share worldwide in September 2020

Unsurprisingly, Android is the primary mobile operating system. It enables Google to put its search engine, browser, and other services directly into the gadget of choice for billions of people. It took a few years, however, but Europe requires selecting the default search engine on Android devices. It remains to be seen whether the damage has not yet been done.

The bigger browser market

Breakdown of the Web Browser Market considering only the three most commonly used. Source: StatCounter / Browser market share worldwide September 2020

The circle came full when Google stopped surfing for internet users. Chrome represents more than two thirds of the browser market. With users returning to Google by default and preinstalled on Android, it is very difficult to resort to alternative solutions. In the three main browsers, Chrome is even more powerful, but its proportions are reduced (66.3%) if we consider Samsung Internet (3.24%), Edge (2.61%) or even Opera (2.06%).

Google isn’t the first seller of connected speakers, but …

With China, Google is more of a challenger than a leader in the connected speaker market. Source: Voicebot / Global Smart Speaker Sales Market Share – Q1 2019 – 2020-01

In the first quarter of 2020, the connected speaker market was dominated by Amazon. It is likely that this is still the case. In addition, the Chinese giants are better positioned internationally than other manufacturers such as Sonos or Facebook, which also include voice assistants. Even so, the market shares of these assistants are difficult to find. The Google Assistant is a new gateway to the web from these devices, but it’s also found on Android, iOS, in cars, or on some TVs. Google’s ubiquity is unmatched.

For the majority of internet users who are informed in normal ways, it is not easy to consider surfing the internet without using a Google product while maintaining the same quality of service. There’s no denying that Chrome, Android, and Google are great tools that are endowed with artificial intelligence (what data?) And always on the forefront to meet new demands. However, when the internet lives at the pace of Google, it is easy for Mountain View to lead the way. Didn’t the previous and current agreements to promote its platforms stop the development of alternative services that would be of similar quality today? Would Bing have stood a chance if it had been used by half of Safari users?

The DOJ’s lawsuit against Google will partially address these questions.

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