Google starts 2013 with a big win in federal court. The FTC announced today it was concluding a long running investigation into Google’s search practices. The FTC found that the company broke no laws in the way it presented search results.
The Commission did find that Google abused certain patents, using them against competitors. Here’s coverage from the Washington Post, and an excellent explanation of winners and losers from GigaOm. Google says it continues to go above and beyond in cooperating with the FTC on its public policy blog.
I’ve written about the anti-Google public affairs campaign previously on this site. I found some of their creative entertaining, including the recent “You’ve Been Scroogled” campaign. But as I wrote last year, there was no “search market” before Google. They created search, so seemingly the company deserved some leeway in modifying their algorithm.
Google is also the only giant technology company that has created an ongoing revenue stream for content providers, through the AdSense program. The company has created popular, free services used by millions of Americans. The public affairs campaign, paid for largely by Microsoft according to GigaOm, always seemed to me a tough sell.
It also never made sense to me that Google would rig their search results — the risk of losing market share was too great. (Caveat – I didn’t like the Google Plus Your World experience.)
I’m glad the FTC has found that Google didn’t cheat users. Now Google’s competitors will have to outperform the company without any help from the Feds.
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