Is Google A Monopoly?
Google’s mega business are becoming controversial due to its monopolistic behaviour. The company dominates about 90% of the world’s web searches and controls search-based advertising. Nevertheless, it possesses a minor share of the total digital advertising market.
Google’s core business covers entertainment and media, internet search, self-driving cars, and technologies such as the android operating system. Its search engine business works by capturing and analyzing datas from billions of people who are searching online, streaming YouTube contents, using the company’s digital map routes, talking to Google’s voice assistant or using its android system. The data gathered helps feed the advertising machine that has altered Google into a behemoth.
Figure 1. Search Engine Market Share Worldwide Feb 2021–Feb 2022
Source: Statcounter Global Stats
There has been a lot of critics saying that Google abused its power to dominate the market, to be the monopoly business. However, US antitrust still applies traditional criteria for determining whether a monopoly makes customers pay too much for its products. “In terms of privacy, attention, and data, consumers paid a significant price for using Google as a search engine. So it’s not about money. However, it is that price that should worry us.”, said Rebecca Allensworth, a law professor at Vanderbilt University.
The power makes Google able to generate advertising business that produces $160 billion in yearly sales, which means that Google controls 80% of search in the U.S. Google competitors get a huge impact as Google stopped their own shopping business with its own search engine, as a result, the company was fined $2.6 billion. On the other hand, Google tried to block competing services on its wireless Android operating system and was fined $4.9 billion in 2018.
Table 1. Google’s Competitors according to its Business Segmentation
With the data said, today’s Google is indeed a monopoly gatekeeper for the internet. Moreover, it is one of the largest yet impactful companies globally, with a market cap of $1.7 trillion (as of March 2022) and annual revenue exceeding $257 billion, according to its 2021’s income statement.
As Google gathers users’ personalized information, the company can easily track what ads to serve and which ads look appealing in users’ eyes and win a point from them. As a result, countless advertisers must pay a toll to Google’s search advertising and general search text advertising monopolies; American consumers must accept Google’s policies, privacy practices, and use of personal data; and new businesses with innovative business models are unable to emerge from Google’s shadow. To break the Google revolution, a search engine, DuckDuckGo, decided to create a privacy-free website to respect its users’ privacy, making some users decide to move to this search engine.
Surfing through Google, it’s a price we have to pay. For the comfort of using the internet and services like Google to streamline our lives, we must make sacrifices, such as giving Google some information about our personal preferences. But it is in our power to decide to what extent we want to share. So, it’s not for users to worry much about what Google tracks.
Written by: Mu’taz Syahputra and Angel Natalia
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