Google has officially rejected the European Union’s antitrust claims against the Silicon Valley giant, painting the union’s view of online shipping as unrealistic.
The EU is claiming that the search giant is abusing its dominance in the market in price comparison, specialised search and AdSense sectors.
In a post penned by Google Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kent Walker, Google said that people don’t exclusively reach merchants by searching for products. He said that consumers find merchants through other platforms, social media, specialist searches, online ads and direct outreach by online shops.
Arguing that the model being put forth by the EU’s view on online shopping is antiquated, Google added that consumers also now predominantly shop online while on mobile devices via dedicated apps.
“In recent years, we’ve improved the format of our ads to include more informative displays with pictures, prices, and links where you can buy products. Showing more useful ads benefits us, our advertisers, and most of all, you, our users,” Walker said.
“That’s why we disagree with the European Commission’s argument that our improved Google Shopping results are harming competition,” he added, saying that the tech giant believes the claims “are wrong as a matter of fact, law, and economics.”
On online shopping, the GC said that the Commission in its original Statement of Objections “drew such a narrow definition around online shopping services that it even excluded services like Amazon.”
“It claimed that when we offered improved shopping ads to our users and advertisers, we were ‘favouring’ our own services — and that this was bad for a handful of price comparison aggregators who claimed to have lost clicks from Google,” Walker wrote.
“But it failed to take into account the competitive significance of companies like Amazon and the broader dynamics of online shopping.”
Walker insists that Google has demonstrated that online shopping is “robustly competitive” and that “lots of evidence” back “the common-sense conclusion that Google and many other websites are chasing Amazon, by far the largest player on the field.”
The SVP also said that the Commission would rather Google not use specialised algorithms to choose merchant ads to display to certain customers, featuring instead price comparison site ads.
“But we get feedback from our users every time they use our services and their clicks tell us that this just isn’t how they want to shop. Forcing us to direct more clicks to price comparison aggregators would just subsidize sites that have become less useful for consumers,” he said.
“Ultimately, we can’t agree with a case that lacks evidence and would limit our ability to serve our users, just to satisfy the interests of a small number of websites,” the GC noted, adding that Google is, however, still committed to resolving the issues raised.
The EU Commission started its antitrust investigation against Google late in 2010 but only published a formal Statement of Objections in August last year.
Google noted that it has also entered its official rebuttal of the Adsense component of the EU’s investigation. It said it will soon respond to claims regarding the Android mobile operating system.
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