Alright, so you’ve gotten this far. Hopefully I’ve heightened your understanding of anti-trusts with wrestling innuendos. Weird combo. I know. Dropping the hammer on huge tech companies for financial wrong-doings and pulling legal suplexes on potential monopolies can be hard. Even with the hearings in the rear-view, I would imagine they will have a lasting effect, maybe.
Tim ‘Do You Know What The Tim Is Cooking?’ Cook
He’s the Apple of the mobile industry’s eye(phone)! He could own the produce section, but he’s going for the entire grocery store! Tim COOOOOK!Michael. Fake. Banner.
First off, I couldn’t go an entire post without make an easy WWF joke, and this was the easiest one. But Cook only had a few questions asked of him, mostly about having restrictions on third party developers in the App Store. Not saying that they weren’t attention-getting and need more emphasis, but in the grand scheme of who was truly abusing their power, Cook was a minor player.
Tim Cook was a computer science grad from Auburn and Duke, and has a pretty distinct fingerprint in the computer processing world. He had major roles over 13 years with IBM and Compaq before landing his gig at Apple and ultimately becoming Steve Jobs successor. He doesn’t really have the same backstories of Pichai, Zuckerburg, and Bezos. He’s a pretty normal, smart guy that worked his way up the ladder and now he’s CEO of Apple. Enough said.
The Bad Apple
So as formerly mentioned, Apple is in hot water for having restrictions against third-party marketplaces in addition to the App Store. Rep. Hank Johnson wanted to explore the App Store with monopolistic intention due to Apple having absolute control on what was being sold through the phone’s native market application.
In my honest opinion, the argument was weird, like trying to explain the App Store to your grandpa. Open-source platforms like Android have the ability to allow third-party developers, but sacrifice the integrity of the security that comes with its system. I understand why this may raise attention for the sake of market freedom, but allowing opportunists to compromise an operating system is not only bad for the company, but more so for the end-user. Additionally, with Apple having it’s main competitive focus on its smartphones and the App Store having a lower-profit margin from commissions, I don’t see the marketplace being a industry-disrupting monopoly.
But wait! This one is petty…
So within a month after the anti-trust hearings, you would think these companies would be keeping their heads down, right? Wrong. Apple is attacking the small meal-prep company, Prepear, for a similar logo. The premise being that there’s ‘dilution of distinctiveness’ for having a logo that is similar to the chomped produce. As you can see below, this grievance makes absolutely no sense, other than the two companies has some sort of fruit-based name. Not to mention, they are comparing apples to oranges between a tech goliath and a 5-employee meal-prep business. Apple has never had a problem distinguishing their brand from others, so why is this a concern? But I’ll get off my soap box and back to trust-busting.
Sundar ‘The Pitch’ Pichai
The man with the plan, advertising, and corporate structure to fundamentally make/break your business! You could Ask Jeeves, but the guy already killed the butler! PITCH PICHAIII!Michael Banner (Reoccurring Fake Voiceover)
Sundar Pichai is a great example of the modern-day melting pot; Case and point, he went from a two-room apartment in India to CEO of Google/Alphabet. You know, the company that is interchangeable with the word ‘search’. Pretty big power move. He’s largely responsible for Google Chrome, Google Drive, and G Suite. Anything and everything that makes Google stand out against competing search engines, cloud storage, or web browsers. But with the evolution of Google, it does have growing pains. Google is synonymous with any form of intrusive data-mining. Whether it be a ‘Rick Flair Rant’ that you mindlessly searched for at 3AM or the widely-used analytics platform that they provide for free. They record all that. All that accumulated data is just a diamond in the rough for Google. They use it in everything that we do virtually to the point that they already know what you need before you even look for it. Furthermore, with the lack of competition, it comes as no surprise that they are staring down the barrel of the antitrust gun.
Looking back on this entire hearing, I don’t think that anybody had a worse day in court than Sundar Pichai. The guy couldn’t catch a break.
In a Nutshell
Google was accused of stealing content from small businesses, using their search engine to profit Google products, and censoring anyone that opposed their business model. In a court case focused on literally. not. doing. that. Keep in mind that Google accumulates over 85% of all online searches, so you can see why this is a problem. Add 100+ billion dollars of revenue coming from GoogleAds, you would think that small businesses are getting their money’s worth? Unfortunately, such is not the case. Multiple testimonies had been brought upon Google for advertising representation or lack thereof. All of them from small businesses that rely on the search engine to drive traffic to their companies.
Big on the list was stolen content which was discussed with a couple of examples. The first being Brian Warner, who was brought up in a passing introductory statement. For those that don’t know, Brian Warner is the CEO of CelebrityNetWorth.com. (Why anyone would want to know how much Kim Kardashian is worth is beyond me, but you know, reality.) Between 2012-2016, Warner accused Google of skimming content off of his site for Googles display widgets when you would look up a celebrity’s name on the search engine. Warner wasn’t credited for any of his content, resulting in site traffic and revenue dropping by 80-90% and almost losing his company. The second example and most damning evidence, was Yelp. Another example of ‘skimming’, which is an understatement, Google was taking Yelp reviews of businesses and posting them as their own original content in 2010. After Yelp realizing what was happening and ordered them to stop, Google threatened to ‘de-list’ Yelp from their search engine completely.
But wait, there’s more!
Another problematic area that was brought up was surveillance of competition. Fearing possible competition with certain websites, Google had been diverting search queries away from possible threats towards Google products for years. The smoking gun being a investigative report that showed that 63% of web searches that started in Google ended on Google-owned pages. Point being relevant search results are subjective, with the subject being Google’s cash-flow. Any traffic lost to other sites was a loss of revenue for Google. To put an end to it, Google staff observed sites that were getting ‘too much traffic’ and partially censoring site advertisements once they reached. The monopolistic intention at this point is that Google is raising their price for competitors to reach their users. David Cicilline stated that this ‘Google Tax’ is what any business must pay to ensure virtual exposure and resulting success, rather than the company being sought out organically. Which raises the question, ‘If Google is the main gateway to the Internet and abusing their power, what is stopping them from monopolizing online advertising as a whole?’