A few days ago, the European parliament voted (75% yes) to recommend the huge search engine(s) to be unbundled from the commercial services – which means to break Google.
These efforts vaguely followed from a 2010 complaint by Google's competitors who argued that the Google search results favor Google-related products and pages. Well, they probably do but they're allowed to use any formula, I guess.
The broader claim is that Google is "nearly" a monopoly. In many European countries, Google boasts 90% of the search engine market; the share is below 70% in the U.S. In Czechia, Google has slightly above 50%. Almost 40% goes to Ivo Lukačovič's Seznam.cz (the word means a "list" or a "directory"; the company which runs its clones of many services you know from Google started as a Yahoo-style directory of web pages – I've met the founder during our hike to Ještěd on Liane BBS real-world session over 20 years ago LOL, he almost certainly recognizes my name).
In the resolution of the European Parliament, Google isn't being named explicitly. It's clearly "mostly" about Google. However, Google's competitors already see the potentially broader implications of the EU efforts. The point is that it could affect them as well and they visibly oppose the regulatory monster that they helped to unleash 4 years ago.
The justification of similar breakups and related regulatory policies are always deeply flawed and this one is no exception.
The Stone Age didn't end when people ran out of stones, and the IBM era didn't end when wise regulators ran out of patience with IBM. The Stone Age ended when people learned how to produce bronze, so that the Bronze Age could begin. And the IBM Age ended when the software running on these machines became a more important source of income and synchronization, and the Microsoft era could have started. Needless to say, the Microsoft era has been over for many years, too. And I am not sure about the Apple era in the smartphone market.
In none of the stories, one needed to regulate stones or monopolies and one didn't need any would-be wise regulators. It's a competitive market and if someone manages to reach 60% or 90% of the market, it almost always has extremely good, legitimate reasons, and such dominance isn't there forever, anyway.
From a moral perspective, it's really crazy to argue that Google is a monopoly. There are lots of competitors. And people just choose to open google.com, unless they prefer seznam.cz. This very mechanism – people freely opening one web page and not another – makes it totally clear that nothing "evil" is going on behind the scenes. No one is blackmailing the people to open the "right" search engines.
When we look at the U.S.-based search engines, I think that Google the search engine became the leader for totally meritocratic reasons. The hits were more relevant than what all the others could offer, sometimes by a lot. The other search engines' top hits weren't less good because they would be promoting their stuff. They were less good because they were less relevant, more noisy search results – even though they mostly pointed to web pages of "completely unrelated" subjects.
Now, when Google knows how to calculate the best search results and the error margin is small, it has also the capability to "tilt" the results in a direction that is economically beneficial for the company and its broader strategy. I don't see anything wrong about it whatsoever. The ability to "benefit" from the business in one way or another was surely a major part of the motivation why the search engine was born in the first place, wasn't it? Some motivation had to exist – even though the pinko commie utopia believers might prefer a world in which people are working hard for no reason. The degree of this "tilt" will have to be "moderate enough" because if Google suddenly started to return much less relevant (because too egotist) search results, people would be losing confidence in the engine and would be starting to work with the alternatives.
There is no need to regulate anything here.
It's nonsense to social-engineer Google's market share to be smaller. By hurting Google, one won't make the competitors better. He may at most make them look bigger – in comparison with the decimated Google. But who could benefit out of this harmful action? The countries with the Google share around 90% simply don't have anyone like Ivo Lukačovič, the founder of seznam.cz. It's partly their fault, their national defect. Use any word you like. It's totally pathetic for them to suggest that it's Google's fault that they have seen no significant local competition.
And is it a good idea to unbundle different parts of the Google ecosystem? I don't think so. It's helpful for the company because useful information from one part may be used in another. This is good for the users, too. Even the ecosystem isn't a real monopoly. Microsoft-Facebook-Skype are loosely aligned and their ecosystem is a competition to Google in the general sense. It's actually a very balanced contest. Google is connected with a big part of the online activities of many of us. But it's very far from 100 percent and their dominance is never imposed artificially.
There is one more thing I am puzzled by. Do they really believe that the EU is powerful enough to decide about global companies such as Google? Have the Europeans conquered the world again? Sometimes they suggest that they only want to split Google's "European operations". I can't imagine what it could possibly mean. If these operations are owned by a single global entity, Google Inc., the question whether its European daughter is single or artificially divided is an inconsequential cosmetic issue, isn't it? The parent company may continue to pursue all of its strategies.
Given the regulatory fanaticism of most of the members of the European Parliament, it's good news that the EU is not a democracy and these clowns don't even have the right to propose any laws. However, these clowns are influential enough to inspire more powerful folks among the Commissaries of the Eurosoyuz (which is the right name for the EU used in the Russian language). And these folks may be planning to do some real harm to the IT market.