As Google’s first usage started around 1990s, during the years, it has managed to gain a considerable percentage of market share. As it is a free service for users, it is one of the most used search engines in the world – which in the same time has raised a lot of concerns from its competitors (Bing, Yahoo).
AMP is an open source to all publishers to appear in the news carousel and one of its basic functions is to increase speed and make users experience news in a better way. Even though newspapers are not required to code their content in AMP, in my opinion the AMP will have a negative impact in competition among newspapers. The main reason I think so is because newspapers who will code their content in AMP will be the first results that will appear on top of the page whereas those who will not code, will most likely be pushed on the end of the page thus decreasing the number of site users.
So, after all I question: What is the real reason why publishers want to code their content to AMP?
I believe that publishers tend to go with Google in every possible direction (in this case AMP) because Google is already perceived as an important search engine from individuals and considering the market share it has, they believe that going on Google’s direction can be a good option. Moreover, the revenue that came from ads will be decreased because implementing ads on AMP is not easy. Another downside is that the newspaper page will not remain as it was – meaning that it will encounter some changes on the way it is presented to users because of the limitations AMP has. Grybniak (2016)
On the other hand, well known newspapers such as WSJ.com, NYtimes.com and other, do have an interest and I think they would need to code their content in AMP in order to keep up not only with other competitors who will code in AMP, but also to not harm their reputation and keep up their work in the same path as before or even improve. Moreover, reputable newspapers, have no other choice but to choose a faster and better way to provide their content to their customers and sometimes they do not always have the resources to do it themselves so AMP can be the only way out for them. Not appearing in the news carousel would only harm their reputation and would eventually put them in a less positioned place against their competitors.
Furthermore, I personally agree with the fact that by implementing AMP format, Google will definitely use this to gain more data and information regarding users, the amount of time spent and their interests. One of the reasons that Google is basically doing it, is to use all the information in its own advantage including for ads or other purposes from which they can benefit.
Newspapers and Ads
The first case that comes my mind to compare with this scenario, is the Amazon case with e-book prices. As publishers tried to “convince” Amazon to switch to agency contracts, a similar scenario also exists with the AMP case. Google is somehow trying to let no other way out for publishers to code their content in AMP in order to appear in the news carousel and increase views. I personally think it is not quite fair. In general, as I previously stated, reputable newspapers will have no other way but code their content in AMP in order to not lose their share in the market.
On the other hand, AMP promises to deliver even faster ads. Eventually firms will have more difficulties in competing with Google on offering faster ads. One of the main reasons is that Google will be able to gain data and information regarding users (potential customers) who will visit newspapers in the news carousel, as such its ads will be directed in a much better way to the customers’ needs and will be more appealing as they will appear faster than in other websites where newspapers are not using AMP. Eventually this will raise the difficulties of competing with Google because of the advantage they have in receiving information, and in the same time might even harm competition by raising barriers to entry for new competitors.
US Antitrust/ EU Competition Law
In my opinion Google should not be viewed as a monopoly because it actually has other competitors (Bing), but it should be viewed as quite risky regarding its standing in the market and the impact it has in new market entrants.
Even though I personally do not support the new news carousel, I do not see a way how US antitrust authorities can take any position in this for the only reason that Google will argue that AMP is not required – thus it does not force anyone to join it and as a result newspapers have a option to choose freely.
On the other hand, EU takes somehow a different view on Google. Based on Yglesias, EU seems to consider Google as monopoly which should not be left unregulated. Having considerable market power in the EU is not something tolerable by the EU antitrust authorities. Having a high percentage of market share in the EU is seen as risky because it does not allow room for new competition and in the same time raises the barriers for new entrants. Instead, EU antitrust authorities want a more diversified market, not only Google (2016). Still, I do not believe there is much to do now in this stage from either antitrust authority. AMP is still on a processing phase and now the competition law authorities have no other choice but wait for what is their next move and how will it affect consumers, and the market as a whole in order to proceed effectively.
I have been hearing about Android almost everywhere in the past 10 years for the services that it has been offering to its consumers. Regarding its position in the technology field, it is an open source mobile operating system used for all kinds of smartphones and tablets. Android has been offered to hardware manufacturers at no charge and as of today, some of the well-known users of it are Samsung, HTC, LG etc. Things began to complicate with Android when Google joined in the field and caused disruptions not only on hardware manufacturers, but also to other competitors and consumers.
Android Competitors and the Effect in Competition
Even though the only competitor we can relate to Android nowadays is IOS (Apple), a few years ago Windows and Symbian were also one of the main competitors of Android. The question that pops in my mind is: What happened to these competitors?
Well, both Windows and Symbian experienced a substantial decrease in sales. One of the first reasons might be that before, they charged a fee to hardware manufacturers who used it, whereas when Android joined the market it competed them by offering its system for free usage to hardware manufacturers. As Android advanced in the market leaving behind both Windows and Symbian, Google advanced following the same steps. Android smartphones became quite preferable in the market thanks to the availability of allowing customers to access a variety of web pages and applications. Things started to complicate when Android started showing with a GMS. This was the first step that Android took to harm its competitors.
The reason of harm was because as Android phones now with the GMS contained Google play, YouTube and many other Google apps, other Android phones that did not have Google and any Google apps included, was not desired anymore because apps as YouTube or Google Play have no other substitute, leaving manufacturers with no choice rather than including them. In this case Android has harmed competition because manufacturers who do not want to use Google apps have no other substitute for it. Based on Edelman & Geradin (2016), the opposite has happened in China where Google and Android together have had no negative impact on competition since many Google servers have been blocked.
I believe that the most harm to competitors and hardware manufacturers does not come directly from Android. Google is one of the factors where competition and incentives for innovation become almost impossible. Even though IOS is one of the main rivals of Android nowadays, they still have a different operating market. As IOS is quite different from Android, I believe it does not directly interfere with Android market. Despite Google’s intervention in the Android market, another thing to consider is the fact that even if Google would not intervene in any way, developing and keeping it secure is quite expensive – meaning that it is also quite difficult to directly compete with Android. As IOS and Android have formed a “scary” duopoly, and the fact that Google with Android and Apple itself has raised the standard so much, makes it even harder for device competitors to offer something that consumers might like and find useful.
Despite many other mobile software firms’ efforts, including Cyanogen, in my view the battle has already ended leaving the two giants competing only against each other allowing no room for the rest who want to enter. The fact is that even though mobile software firms have attempted to try the bare Android with no Google services included, it still did not succeed. People still turn to the original Android that includes all Google services. To continue, regardless that no manufacturer is required to pre-install Google apps, it does not mean that it will help competition and innovation. As Amazon and Cyanogen tried, individuals were not satisfied with such a choice. I believe that bias is also part of my whole analysis on competition. Individuals are now used to Google apps because there is no other substitute for them, leaving them with no other choice rather than using Google, and consequently leaving no other choice for new entrants in the market who enter as competitors to compete with them – because they would no longer have a reason to compete if it will not be successful.
Despite the challenges it gives to its competitors, I believe that consumers would not be better off without it. The reason I give for my argument is that as Android and IOS are the two main players in the mobile market nowadays, and not all individuals can afford Apple smartphones. Android on the other side, offers a variety of choices when it comes to the prices of smartphones from which consumers are free to choose. Many device makers who have been using Android for a couple of years now, offer a variety of options for individuals based on what they are looking for. As OS is open and free for hardware manufacturers, it has at least allowed a considerable number of brands to enter the market using OS software system with affordable prices. The reason why I think that consumers would not be better off if Android did not exist, is that IOS would then be more likely to become a monopoly which would be less efficient for consumers who cannot afford it. Thanks to such devices and the prices offered, everyone can have a smartphone with the prices they can afford. In addition, android’s most smartphones are sold in India and Africa because of the affordable prices it had offered to costumers. Individuals all over the world deserve the same opportunities, especially when it comes to the access to technology.
1. Yglesias, M. (2017, July 04). Google’s battle with the European Union is the world’s biggest economic policy story. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/7/4/15891274/google-eu-antitrust
2. Grybniak, S. (2017, January 03). What Are The Pros and Cons of AMP? Retrieved January 14, 2018, from https://www.searchenginejournal.com/do-i-need-amp/181292/
3. Edelman, B., & Geradin, D. (2016, October 24). Android and Competition Law: Exploring and Assessing Google’s Practices in Mobile. Retrieved from http://www.benedelman.org/publications/google-mobile-2016-10-24.pdf