Google has agreed to modify the way it displays search results in Europe as part of a deal to end a probe by the EU's antitrust body. But rivals Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle will first have to sign off on the changes, reports say.
As ZDNet writes:
"In March, the European Commission (EC) announced it had concerns that Google 'may be abusing its dominant position' in search, by displaying search results for its own businesses — such as Shopping — above rivals', sending less traffic their way and limiting consumers' choice.
"The EC also said it was worried Google was using third-party content without producers' consent, such as reusing other companies' reviews in its own specialized search; making advertisers sign deals agreeing largely or only to do business with Google; and making it harder for advertisers to shift their campaigns to Google's competitors."
To appease concerns over Google's market dominance in the search-engine business, the UK technology website V3 says:
"Google has offered to meet a number of commitments over the next five years. These include clearly labeling results returned from its own services as its own by placing them in boxes and ensuring at least three other rival links are placed nearby."
The Wall Street Journal adds:
"The company has also said it would prominently display three rival websites along with its own, so that for instance, someone searching for a restaurant would now get a link to Google's own products, as well links to three other relevant sites.
"In a further concession, Google said it would end its exclusivity clauses with its advertising contracts."
V3 says the deal being worked out would allow "rivals such as Microsoft, Nokia and other members of the Fairtrust consortium ... the chance to raise any issues they have with the proposals put forward."
According to the WSJ:
"Google also faces complaints about its Android operating system for mobile devices. Earlier this month, FairSearch, a group of 17 companies that includes Microsoft Corp., Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia Corp. and Oracle Corp., in a formal complaint accused Google of using Android to promote its own applications on smartphones. FairSearch cited by way of example that phone makers using Android face contractual obligations to run Google apps, such as Google Maps, by default. Android has the largest share of the mobile market, around 70%, followed by Apple's IOS platform. The commission is analyzing the complaint and hasn't yet opened a formal investigation."