Since its inception in the late 1990s, Google has done as much as anyone to create an “open internet.” Thanks to Google’s unparalleled search algorithms, anyone’s ideas can be heard, and all kinds of information are easier than ever to find. As Google has extended its ambition beyond its core function, however, it has conducted itself in a manner that now threatens the openness and diversity of the same internet ecosystem that it once championed. By promoting its own content and vertical search services above all others, Google places a significant obstacle in the path of its competitors. This handicap will only be magnified as search engines become increasingly important and the internet continues to expand.
In order to mitigate the potential damage to competition, we must prevent Google from leveraging its power in core search to steal market share for its downstream vertical search services. Requiring Google core search to integrate its competitors’ vertical offerings would promote competition without intrusive administrative interference. But action must come soon. Search is taking shape very quickly. Once the next generation of online search emerges, the dominant players will have already cemented their positions. Let us hope that when the dust settles it isn’t too late.