First, for Google’s opponents, let’s look on the bright side.
The company’s tentative deal with European regulators in April to head off a formal anti-trust complaint was, according to critics, worse than useless. In the words of Silicon Valley lawyer Gary Reback: “They were Nowheresville”.
Tuesday’s revised deal at least fixes the most glaring flaws. Whether it will do anything meaningful to change the competitive situation is another matter.
Mobile search and related advertising are booming. This market is really taking off at last.
But the more useful Google becomes, the more it finds itself pushing at the boundaries of what people will find acceptable. Image Search has the potential to be its next privacy landmine.
Yahoo executives meeting with investors and analysts on Wednesday did what they could to assuage concerns about the company’s minority investments in China and Japan before moving on to the sunnier topics of a surge in display advertising and the big potential for video.
When Google hit out at the content farms earlier this year with a change to its ranking algorithm, it was the opening blow in what looked like being a long fight.
Demand Media admitted late on Sunday that the change hurt traffic at its biggest site, eHow. But it brushed off the damage (and a 10 per cent hit to its share price) by affirming its financial guidance and saying that it had redoubled its efforts to attract eyeballs – including from Facebook.
Yahoo on Wednesday began rolling out improvements to its core search function that produce results–not just links–on popular subjects much faster than before.
Google’s accusation today that Microsoft’s Bing is copying its search results feels like a telling moment in the long-running Search Wars.
When I caught up just now with Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search quality, he didn’t mince his words: “It’s crazy. I haven’t seen anything like this in ten years in search.” For Microsoft, it raises an uncomfortable question: after years of work and hundreds of millions of dollars, is it still unable to match Google without hanging onto its coattails?
Google has hit back at growing criticism of the quality of its search results, with a blog post pledging to tackle “content farms” and admitting: “We can and should do better.”
The move has been seen as a threat to Demand Media, one such producer of low-cost articles and videos designed to suck up search traffic, which has just priced its initial public offering.
Japan’s antitrust authorities have cleared Yahoo Japan’s plan to rely on Google for algorithmic search results, rejecting complaints from Microsoft and others that the combined service would field as much as 90 per cent of the nation’s search queries.
Japan Fair Trade Commission officials told wire services that they would not block the deal announced in July but would continue to monitor it for any harm to the market.