It’s nearly impossible to think of Google as anything other than a force of good. They’ve managed to cement themselves as the search engine of choice, they provide a fantastic e-mail service, and in general produce products that people find incredibly handy and useful. Their employees even gush about how awesome the company is to work for.
However, it would seem that the company might be playing dirty when it comes to the search engine market. Microsoft recently filed an antitrust complaint against the search behemoth for allegedly trying to directly hamper its competition. While this seems to be a laughable role reversal, there’s some pretty serious allegations made by Microsoft that, if true, raise some serious questions about just how valid their unofficial mission statement of not being evil is.
Apparently, quite a few companies based in Europe have already taken similar measures against Google, and many complaints stem from the fact that Google does not allow other search engines to properly access YouTube, which they’ve owned since 2006. Allegedly, search engines other than Google are not allowed to access video metadata properly in order to provide accurate and comprehensive search results.
Google has even denied Microsoft from implementing a fully featured YouTube app on the Windows Phone 7 platform, which truly is shocking given the search engine giant’s policy of making information open and accessible. Both Android and iOS devices benefit from the ability to access a wide array of video data to let users watch, rate, search, and comment on videos. As an owner of a Windows Phone, it seems extremely unfair that I’m not allowed to get the same level of access as those with other devices.
Overall, though, if these allegations are true, this smacks of an unprecedented level of hypocrisy on Google’s part. For years, their claim has been that they support open information and the spread of information to as many people as possible. If they are actively denying competing products from being able to access their information, then Google needs to realize that this is a two-way street. They can’t call foul play on someone else, and then turn around and pull the same tricks.
While Google gets a lot of kudos for being a company that is extremely in touch with what their users want and lets them access most of their services for the low price of free, they still shouldn’t be allowed to create a monopoly in the search engine market. They need to be held accountable for what they do, even more so now than ever given their huge presence on the internet. I may not use Bing or Yahoo! Search, but if no alternatives exist, what motivation does Google have to continue innovating?