Google Inc Finds Support From eBay In EU Antitrust Probe

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Google finds support in the form of eBay Chief Executive John Donahoe, who has taken the side of the search engine giant in an antitrust case. Donahoe, who said both companies are direct competitors in online shopping, asserted that Brussels “misunderstands how people buy products online,” according to the Financial Times.

eBay chief supports arguments from Google

While underlining the challenges faced by the European Commission in bringing high profile cases, eBay’s CEO said in an interview with the FT that the barriers in different areas of online commerce are diminishing. Donahoe’s comment supports statements already made by the internet giant in its initial response to the European Commission’s landmark competition case.

The European Union alleged that Google cheated consumers and competitors by altering Web search results to favor its own shopping services. Google, however, resorted to a tough stand on the issue, saying it strongly disagrees with the EU’s objections and believes that its products have increased competition and benefited consumers.

Where is the case heading?

Five years ago, Google was hit with an investigation by European regulators over a product triggering a set of algorithmic search results. Now, it is looking into a new form of advertising-funded listings. “Whatever the product was when the case was brought, the business is more fluid than can be easily regulated,” said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group.

As proof highlighting the reach of the internet giant, Margrethe Vestager, European Competition Commissioner said that the company holds more than 90% of the general web search market in Europe. However, in a blog post, Google mentioned that its influence has been exaggerated in respect of online shopping, with Amazon and eBay overshadowing it in Germany.

As of now, the case is heading nowhere as new complications keep coming. Another consideration is that Google has fundamentally changed its process of handling shopping searches in the years since the antitrust investigation was triggered. Brussels asked Google to stop giving priority to its own shopping results, but in 2012 Google shopping was changed into an advertising-based service. Now Google lets its merchants place bids in auctions and pay when users click on their products, something similar to Google’s Adwords.

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