Back in 1890, Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act, which prohibits agreements that limit trade and abuse of monopoly power. Fast forward 200+ years, and one of the world’s largest and most beloved almost-monopolies is coming under fire for abusing its position of power.
The Debate Over the Monopolization Of Search
It’s true that internet users have their choice of several search engines, but at the end of the day, only one really matters. The other two “major” search engines tried to compete for a while, and there are still some consumers who use them as their search engines of choice, but the reality is that 95% of searchers prefer one over the others. That said, consumer preference does not make the almighty search engine a monopoly. It does, however, monopolize search.
Businesses around the globe rely on the search engine giant’s algorithms to do business. Not only are those algorithms ever-changing, but also, they’re not very small-business friendly. After all, even the big brands with big budgets cannot figure them out, so how are small businesses and mom-and-pops supposed to?
The company claims it tries to help by suggesting ad budgets and recommending keywords. However, think about who controls what ads to display: The search engine. Not only that, but the company doing the reporting regarding how your money was spent and how many clicks, page views, etc., your ad generated is the search engine. There is no real way to validate all this information, so you must just blindly trust that the company is telling the truth.
Many small business owners are pleading with Washington to split the search engine giant into smaller, independent companies that cannot leverage each other’s data. While this is a creative and possible effective solution, advocates of the company believe that breaking it up would stifle innovation and make it impossible for brands to meet consumers’ demands for “more.”
Monopolies Keep Companies Innovative
When you look at it from a different perspective, any almost-monopoly motivates other businesses to try to keep up. Those businesses are continually innovating new products and services that consumers never even knew they wanted. Though it’s true that the California-based company is getting rich by meeting this demand, it’s also enriching the lives of consumers. At the end of the day, isn’t that all that really matters?