It looks like Deutschland has a bee in its bonnet about Google. Apparently it is using the dreaded M word “monopol” which, according to Google’s own translation tool is the German form of the English word monopoly. The Germans are concerned that Google is looking like Microsoft and they are not happy. Somebody needs to get in their Mercedes and take a ride on the Autobahn to cool off, maybe?
We learned of the Reuters report from Search Engine Land. Apparently the German justice minister is upset that Google isn’t transparent enough. I thought monopolies are about cornering markets and not transparency but maybe I am missing something in the translation.
Here’s her thoughts from Reuters
In an interview with weekly magazine Der Spiegel, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said she was concerned the firm was accruing too much power and information about citizens via programmes like Google Earth and Google Books.
“All in all, what’s taking shape there to a large extent is a giant monopoly, similar to Microsoft,” the minister said.
“My initial response is not to ban something or stop something. But I do want to create more transparency and ensure that users know what is going on with their data,” she added.
“I think the companies have an obligation here, and a lot of things ought to be improved. If that doesn’t happen soon we may have to take action as legislators.”
Once again I have to ask the question does Google actually monopolize anything? According to Dictionary.com monopoly is:
a board game in which a player attempts to gain a monopoly of real estate by advancing around the board and purchasing property, acquiring capital by collecting rent from other players whose pieces land on that property.
Oooops. Wrong one. Here’s the one that works for our purposes here:
1. exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices.
2. the market condition that exists when there is only one seller.
I think this is where people are getting confused. Microsoft and the desktop smelled of monopoly because no one else could play. Google, on the other hand, is not the only player in nearly everything it has its tentacles in. It just does things bigger and, most times, better than the rest. That’s called cleaning the competition’s clock, not a monopoly.
I am sure there will be plenty of arguments that Google is a monopoly and I welcome all of them here. Just be sure that when you are using Google and monopoly in the same sentence you are not just complaining that Google does more things and they do them better. They have to prevent competition from taking place to be a real monopoly and I don’t see that like others might.
Did you hear Google cry that Lycos, AltaVista and Yahoo were “monopolies” when it was in its infancy and seen as the new kid on the block with the goofy name? Nope. They went out and did things the old fashioned way: they innovated and gave the public what they wanted and in the process laid waste to things that didn’t work as well as they did. If that’s a monopoly then I’m all for it.