TripAdvisor vs Google: Google responds to anti-competitive allegations

Google has denied the allegations of “anti-competitive behaviour” that TripAdvisor and others have lobbied against it.

accomnews outlined the controversy in an article published last week but new details have surfaced.

Senior vice president at Google Amit Singhal has since claimed, “Companies like Axel Springer, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and Yelp (all vociferous complainants in this process) have alleged that Google’s practice of including our specialised results (Flight Search, Maps, Local results, etc.) in search has significantly harmed their businesses.

“But their traffic, revenues and profits (as well as the pitch they make to investors) tell a very different story. TripAdvisor claims to be the web’s largest travel brand and has nearly doubled its revenues in the last four years,” he noted.

TripAdvisor is not the only company to accuse Google of anti-competitive behaviour, however. The controversy began in 2010 when the search engine was targeted by a variety of web-based travel firms after announcing plans to acquire the flight search provider ITA.

More than twelve complaints were issued to the EU about Google’s role in the acquisition, arguing their businesses had suffered directly at the hands of the search engine. Although none of these complaints were resolved by Joaquin Almunia, the EU politician who launched the initial investigation, Google did offer several settlements.

Margarethe Vestager has now taken over the portfolio and according to Reuters, she plans to go over the facts in depth. She told the newswire, “I don’t think that speed should be the priority. We should be even-handed and open-minded in interpretation of the facts. Of course it is better to be fast than slow but it’s even better to be just.”

In the area of online shopping, Google has just been issued with a statement of objections from the European Commission based-on similar anti-trust complaints. Citing unique visitor statistics from France, Germany and the UK, Mr Singhal refuted the validity of these complaints.

He said, “It’s clear that (a) there’s a ton of competition (including from Amazon and eBay, two of the biggest shopping sites in the world) and (b) Google’s shopping results have not harmed the competition. We respectfully but strongly disagree with the need to issue a statement of objections and look forward to making our case over the weeks ahead.”

So far the European Commission has declined to comment but accomnews will keep you updated as the story develops


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