Google offers to treat shopping service rivals equally

29 September, 2017, 00:42 | Author: Ora Austin
  • Bloomberg says Google is splitting off its shopping service to avoid European Union fines

The shopping unit would remain part of Google, but would not be integrated with the search business as it is today. It offers online businesses new opportunities - and new costs too.

Google is reportedly spinning off its comparison shopping service into a "standalone unit" after it was the subject of a record €2.42 billion fine ($2.7 billion) from the European Union. This change will only affect Google's search results in Europe.

Under the new arrangement the rival price comparison sites will be visible at the top of a search page where before only Google Shopping had appeared. "Google Shopping will compete on equal terms and will operate as if it were a separate business, participating in the auction in the same way as everyone else".

So now Google splits off Google Shopping, Bloomberg reports. But it has also prompted criticism of Brussels, which has been accused of unfairly going after USA businesses, claims that European officials deny. All slots will be available to all bidders and none will be reserved for Google Shopping. Google is appealing the decision, of course, but in the meantime, it's making changes in order to avoid further noncompliance fines - starting with Google Shopping.

The EU hit Google with the fine in June for favoring its own comparison shopping service in search algorithms.

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The commission has two other antitrust cases against Google.

Al Verney, a spokesperson for Google, said that whatever the outcome the company had provided a level playing field that should satisfy the European regulator.

The commission has said that Google met its deadline to offer concessions but has not commented on whether the moves would actually bolster competition. It may also show up to users outside Europe if their language or location preferences make Google software think they're in Europe. "They are known to be very knowledgeable in these areas when it comes to data and search", Vestager said.

The fine over Google Shopping broke the previous European Union record for a monopoly case against United States chipmaker Intel (Euronext: INCO.NX - news) of 1.06 billion euros in 2009 and made the EU the global leader in regulating Silicon Valley giants. We will likely have to wait a bit longer to hear about the much more impactful Android decision, but a decision regarding this is also expected before the end of the year.

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