A Useless Investigation

Yesterday the European Commission announced that it opened an anti-trust investigation against Google. Part of the investigation is wether Google is intentionally lowering the search ranking of competing vertical search engines (e.g. product search engines) in favor of its own ones.

The investigation is mostly based on a complaint by UK company Foundem and other companies like Ciao, the Bing (=Microsoft) owned price comparison engine. As you can see from the screenshot, Foundem is specialized in vertical search and has an interest to appear in search results of the big search engines, of course.

Foundem Vertical search Engine

Foundem is also the driving force (or maybe the only one?) behind the Search Neutrality initiative. The initiative (Foundem) provides some statistics that should prove its argument.

The company is also a member of ICOMP (Initiative for a Competitive Online Market Place) which aims to promote widespread support for principles that are essential to a healthy online environment. ICOMP has members from all over the world, though many are fairly unknown, at least to me. The most prominent member is Microsoft which is also sponsoring the initiative.  As you can probably guess already, ICOMP is supporting the investigation.

Well, like Danny Sullivan (see link at the end of the post) I decided to have a look at Google, Yahoo! and Bing myself and see how the big search engines rank results. I opted for two simple queries, a product (MacBook) and a travel destination (Greece). The results look like this:

MacBook

Google search results for macbook

Yahoo search results for macbook

Bing search results for macbook

Greece

Google search results for greece

Yahoo search results for greece

Bing search results for greece

There’s not much difference between the big search engines. So what’s really the point of Foundem’s complaint? Publicity? And are Yahoo! and Bing next on the list of the European Commission? That won’t be the intention of ICOMP, I guess.

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