The United States vs Google

Within DOJ, meanwhile, government lawyers have sparred among themselves over the timeline for bringing a case particularly in the weeks before the 2020 presidential election. Dozens of agency staff signaled this summer they did not feel they were ready to bring charges against Google, but Attorney General William P. Barr ultimately overruled them – and set the Justice Department on a course to file this month.

I share Pikachu’s feelings on the matter.

What a great way to start an antitrust lawsuit. Without a good understanding and backing by those who will lead the charge. Ready, Fire, Aim.

That being said, I expect Google, Apple and Facebook to all be in the crosshairs soon enough, as it seems they have all thumbed their nose at any form of regulation or oversight. Tech had it’s wild west and heyday already, and the chickens have come home to roost.

We’ll see who’s running things after January 6th. While Elizabeth Warren and several others have an appetite, I’m not sure a Biden Administration is hungry to alienate those companies off the bat.

I don’t doubt that there is some real work to be done in terms of using antitrust legislation and regulation to rein in bad behavior on the part of Google or any of the other megacorps. The chances of any of the current clowns approaching it as anything other than either a dog-and-pony show to give a “win” in the next two weeks or a protection racket approach zero, though.

The complaint:

Not really what I would have expected. It seems to be almost entirely about Google paying for being the default search provider on iOS / Android. It’s kind of hilarious, because I bet that in a world where nobody gets to pay phone manufacturers for being the default search engine, Google gets just as big a share of searches but is wildly more profitable since Apple no longer gets to leech off $10 billion per year.

Oh for sure, and also …

… for sure this as well. EU has been leading in at least attempting to keep them in check. Nothing will change here without some sort of push for it.

I don’t pretend to be any sort of expert in this field, but I am a veteran of the OS wars and the compatibility struggles of the 1980s and 1990s. I can definitely say that, as a consumer, I much prefer the limited choices in hardware and operating systems that we have now to the chaos of those days. I had no less than five machines, each with different OSes, and I had programs (usually games) that only ran on one particular setup. I was thrilled when the Microsoft/Intel cabal ate up everything outside of the Apple cult.

In terms of things like Google, I mean, my employer is heavily invested in Google’s suite of apps, I use Chrome almost exclusively, and my phone is Android. That is not changing no matter what happens in the courts. I’m reasonably sure Google, Apple, and the rest are doing Bad Things, and I’m certainly down with holding their feet to the fire, but from my own POV, it all has to be with an eye towards improving things for the consumer. Not making a philosophical point, not winning a moral victory, if those things come at the cost of degraded capabilities and higher costs to the consumer.

The purpose of antitrust legislation is to protect average people, customers, from predatory monopolies. It should not be to protect one class of greedy bastages from another class of more successful greedy bastages, which is all too often what this stuff winds up doing.

11 states joined the lawsuit, all of them with Republican attorney generals.

Destroying the future of American industry to own the libs

So… Somehow Google is at fault for paying billions to apple to be the default search engine on iPhones?

Is the answer for apple to not sell such a thing? Or that only Google wouldn’t be allowed to buy such a right?

It’s not just Apple, they pay other browsers to be the default search engine too. Mozilla was in trouble because Google wasn’t going to renew (I believe they eventually did though). I really don’t get what the problem is. Maybe because smaller browser search engine companies can’t afford to compete?

You don’t need to pay Google to make them your default browser.

The complaint would be that presumably duck duck go can’t afford to be the default search engine. So i guess the answer is that no one is allowed to sell this to a search provider.

Which, as you point out, world hurt a browser developer like Mozilla.

That is what I meant, sorry I said browser but meant search engine.

Even that couldn’t save Mozilla, I’m afraid of them not being able to keep up.
I don’t know what a solution an improvement would look like, but a sector where you can buy out, outbid, or make incompatible with your vertical market isn’t a healthy one, even if they’re mostly still playing nice because the creators were ok people.

Maybe. See this, at least, feels more like anti-trust territory than most of what we’ve been talking about.

Right, so play that all the way to the logical conclusion. What’s the final outcome? It’ll be that this placement that’s worth $10 billion / year gets sold to Microsoft for $1 billion / year instead. They’re now the only ones who can afford to bid, so the price will collapse. It certainly won’t help small search engines in any way. It’ll just be a transfer from a $1T (Google) company and $2T company (Apple) to a $1.5T company (Microsoft), which is pretty hard to get exited about.

The search engine selection screen that’s mandated for Android in the EU seems like a super sensible way of doing this. Except for the part where a lawsuit against Google obviously can’t be used to compel Apple to implement that on iOS.

Bad Google, bad!

Google for years operated a secret program that used data from past bids in the company’s digital advertising exchange to allegedly give its own ad-buying system an advantage over competitors, according to court documents filed in a Texas antitrust lawsuit.

Good luck weaseling out of that.

This does seem pretty problematic. Generally speaking you are allowed to have a near monopoly as long as you don’t use the monopoly position to leverage other business. At the very least this looks bad.