Those of you who have been keeping up with Google’s latest legal wranglings will likely remember that the company is currently embroiled in a battle relating to the apparent monopoly that they exercise over the search market, particularly in Europe.
A range of companies and search engines, including Bing and Yahoo, attacked Google, stating that the company purposefully favoured itself over competition in its supposedly unbiased results. This led to Google promising to ensure that its competitors are given equal billing with itself for relevant searches.
However a recent statement from Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt has demonstrated that the company doesn’t even consider search engines such as Bing as its largest competition. Instead that honour goes to Amazon.
Mr Schmidt went as far as to claim that Amazon’s own popularity goes some way to disproving the notion that Google engages in anti-competitive practices, stating during a speech in Berlin that “Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo. But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon.
“People don’t think of Amazon as search, but if you are looking for something to buy, you are more often than not looking for it on Amazon.
“They are obviously more focused on the commerce side of the equation, but, at their roots, they are answering users’ questions and searches, just as we are.”
While some may scoff at the claim as an attempt to divert criticism for how Google operates in relation to its competition, the claim actually holds more merit than it appears to at first. After all, Amazon is pretty the go-to site when it comes to e-commerce and is perhaps the mediums most famous example. Couple this with more recent Google ventures, such as the Merchant Centre, and you can begin to see how Google’s attempted advances into e-commerce can be held up by Amazon’s own popularity.
Amazon’s recent expansion efforts also hint at a company that is willing to grow beyond its initial parameters, much in the same way that Google has done in recent years. With the recent purchases of LoveFilm and Twitch still fairly recent in the memory it may only be a matter of time before the company begins to invest in a true search engine provider, which would make it an even more direct competitor to Google.
As Schmidt himself commented “Someone, somewhere in a garage is gunning for us. I know, because not long ago we were in that garage. Change comes from where you least expect it.”
Perhaps someday that potential change won’t come from the likes of Bing or Yahoo who, despite their anti-competition claims are offering little that could lead people to consider them the superior product. Perhaps it will come from a large company such as Amazon supporting a fresh concept that ends up taking the world by storm and completely re-positions the major players in the market.