Google rivals: EU concessions not enough

GOOGLE will need to radically alter its service, rather than proposing minor tweaks, to win the support of firms that have complained about it abusing its dominance, according to an industry body representing several complainants.

The Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace (ICOMP) will write to EU competition chief Joaquin Almunia tomorrow in response to concessions Google has made as it attempts to avoid a fine.

Almunia has accused Google of using its dominance in internet search to promote its other services, such as maps and price comparison, at the expense of rival services such as Microsoft and TripAdvisor.

Under EU law, firms are not allowed to leverage their dominant position in one area to improve their position in another, and so Almunia has forced Google to offer concessions. Google has proposed displaying links to rival services and clearly marking its supplementary offerings such as maps, while complainants have been asked to respond to the proposals.

ICOMP said the proposals did not nearly go far enough to satisfy its members. The body’s legal counsel, David Wood, told City A.M. that for ICOMP to be satisfied, Google must stop giving any special privilege to its own services, meaning that they would be displayed as if they were any other website. “We insist that Google applies the same [search] algorithms to other sites as to its own. The scope of the proposed remedy is very narrow,” he said, adding that the changes should affect Google.com as well as local versions such as Google.co.uk, which has not been proposed.

Almunia said on Tuesday that Google is likely to have to make more concessions to win support.