Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights on Sept. 21. The hearing is entitled “The Power of Google: Serving Customers or Threatening Competition?” It is part of a larger anti-trust investigation into the search engine giant. Google currently controls a 65 percent share of the search market in the U.S.
This irks rivals such as Yahoo and Bing, but also smaller companies such as ShopCity, which attempts to direct consumers to local shopping opportunities. ShopCity’s Colin Pape said that while ShopPaloAlto, one of the company’s sites, appeared first in a search for Palo Alto restaurants on Bing and Yahoo, it only appeared on page seven of Google’s search results.
Google says the reason is because ShopCity’s sites do not offer original content, a major criterion for search engine ranking. ShopCity says that while this is true for most of the company’s 8,000-plus sites, 44 of its sites, including sites featuring Bay Area locations, do have original and even unique content.
Search engine expert Danny Sullivan agrees that something may be wrong with how Google operates, but argues that it is not because of some anti-trust machinations to crush a potential “competitor” like ShopCity. In fact, if ShopCity was right, sites like Yelp would have never taken off. Yelp recently hired Rob Krolik of Shopping.com as its CFO, presumably because of his IPO experience.
More serious to Google is the Justice Department’s investigation into its proposed acquisition of online advertising company AdMeld. With rivals arguing that Google abused its market dominance, the possible addition of yet another advertising company to Google’s long list of acquisitions is already raising some eyebrows.