Back in 2011, Microsoft officially filed an antitrust complaint against Google in the EU. At the time, we noted how silly this was, given that the company itself had spent years battling EU antitrust regulations. It almost felt like a "well, if we had to go through that hellish process, let's put it on Google too..." kind of thing. Within less than a year, Google filed its own antitrust complaint back against Microsoft. As we noted at the time, both claims seemed kind of ridiculous and overblown -- and it bothered us greatly that these companies were resorting to stupid political games, rather than just competing in the market.
It had always been obvious and well-known that both groups were Microsoft front groups, and now it's official... and over. According to Re/code:
“Microsoft has agreed to withdraw its regulatory complaints against Google, reflecting our changing legal priorities,” a Microsoft representative said in a statement to Re/code. “We will continue to focus on competing vigorously for business and for customers.”
Google, meanwhile, offered up a similar statement, affirming that it too will withdraw any regulatory complaints it has made. “Our companies compete vigorously, but we want to do so on the merits of our products, not in legal proceedings.”
Of course they could have, and should have, done that five years ago, rather than going through this wasteful process for all involved. The Re/code report suggests a big reason for the shift is the new leadership atop both Google and Microsoft, leading to less animosity and a willingness to work together in some areas and compete directly in the market. It was disappointing that the two ever bothered to focus on trying to dump bureaucratic nightmares on each other in the first place, so it's good that that part is over. However, the antitrust investigations and potential outcomes won't stop just because the companies have stopped supporting them. Once those launched, they'll keep on going.
from the no-competition-please,-we're-doctors dept
Billing itself as a sort of Uber-for-eye-exams, telemedicine startup Opternative recently came on the scene offering a quick, inexpensive alternative to traditional optical exams that uses your computer and smartphone. Following a 25-minute online exam, an ophthalmologist will approve your results and issue a prescription for a cost of $40. No doctor visit is required.
Unfortunately, just like Uber, there's a powerful lobby of incumbents who don't want the status quo disrupted. Now they're pushing legislation in several states to shut down online eye exams.
As someone who recently had to get glasses, I like the idea of an online option the next time I need a checkup (and unlike many people, I only have to walk a few blocks from my office to see an eye doctor). Of course, my first question was: "Is it accurate?" But, at least according to its clinical trial, the online version appears to be equivalent in accuracy to its analog counterpart.
The technology is approved in 45 states, and the service is currently available in 33. So, unlike transportation network companies like Uber that had to contend with onerous insurance, safety and liability questions, the regulatory status quo of telehealth services like this is that they are legal in most jurisdictions.
Indeed, telemedicine is nothing new. Through its more than 40-year history, it has showngreat potential for cost savings in both private sector and government programs. This potential will only grow, as wearables and smartphones become more sophisticated and ubiquitous. For instance, in Opternative's case, the service is about half as expensive as a traditional eye exam. Future competitors in the space, or economies of scale, could bring costs down even further.
Unfortunately, a powerful lobby of brick-and-mortar optometrists is pushing for legislation to shut them down. In Georgia, a bill (HB 775) was passed by both houses of the state Legislature that would ban these online eye exams. Aptly listed as "restrictions on sale and dispensing of spectacles," this legislation is clear in its purpose to protect licensed brick-and-mortar optometrists from unwanted competition. Now it's up to Gov. Nathan Deal to sign or veto the bill. He has until the first week of May to decide.
Blocking new telehealth applications like this one will only serve to raise prices, reduce the ability of low-income or rural individuals to access care and stifle future smartphone-driven innovations. As former Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote in a column for USA Today:
There are more than 100,000 smartphone apps for health purposes, including one that detects heart attacks and another that helps diabetics monitor their blood sugar....And every day more are invented. Many of these smartphone enabled apps and devices will be better than the methods they're replacing — more convenient, faster, less expensive, and, in a growing number of cases, more accurate.... In healthcare, however, there is a growing effort by the existing, expensive systems to defend old, costly, less convenient, and slower methods by simply outlawing most of the competition.
What's happening in Georgia, Indiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Oklahoma and elsewhere, is a shameless attempt to capture the regulatory apparatus by a rent-seeking cartel that wants to preserve the status quo at all costs. If these acts of cronyism are allowed to proceed unchecked, they inevitably will contribute to a disastrous chilling effect for innovation in the health sector -- an area already encumbered by a massiveregulatoryburden.
This will only make us all poorer, and less healthy.
As we've been discussing, the FCC has started working more seriously on opening the cable set top box to real competition. As it stands, 99% of consumers currently pay about $231 annually in rental fees for aging hardware that's often worth about half that much. The FCC's goal is ultimately to let consumers access cable content using the hardware of their choice, creating a healthy new competitive market, and by proxy better hardware at lower prices. But monthly set top box rental fees represent $20 billion in annual revenue to cable providers, which is why they've been having a hissy fit about the FCC's plan.
This manufactured outrage has involved claiming that more set top box competition will somehow hurt diversity (despite the plan providing access to a more diverse array of content than ever before). Or claiming that consumers having a choice of hardware will harm children's safety and user security. The latest attack on the FCC's plan? Having The Walking Dead producer and Producers Guild of America secretary Gale Anne Hurd pen a missive over at USAToday claiming that more set top box competition somehow automatically means a huge spike in piracy:
"If the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approves Chairman Tom Wheeler’s regulatory proposal to “open” set-top boxes, it will make piracy as easy and dangerous in the living room as it is on laptop and mobile devices. Wait, you didn’t know piracy was rampant on the Internet? Well, the figures shocked even me, and as a producer of horror and science fiction, I’m not easily scared. The season five premiere of my show, The Walking Dead, was illegally downloaded by roughly 1.27 million unique IP addresses worldwide within 24 hours of its debut."
Right, people pirate content. No debate there. That's in part because despite some notable progress, finding legitimate content online remains a bit of an expensive mole hunt (made worse by exclusive streaming arrangements), making piracy just cheaper and easier. But it's also because while copy protection on cable hardware (including the latest HDCP 2.2 standard for 4K) does a great job in annoying paying customers, it repeatedly fails to actually secure content. That's not going to change under a system where users have access to cheaper, better hardware. What will change is that users will no longer be trapped in the cable industry's set top box walled garden, and will have access to more ways to buy and watch legitimate content than ever before, including AMC's own website and streaming service. Outrageous!
Hurd doesn't appear to understand this, or how the FCC's plan actually works, since the outline the FCC has provided (pdf) notes that the FCC's plan leaves it up to cable providers to still "determine the content protection systems it deems sufficient to prevent theft and misuse" and "will not impede the introduction of new content protection systems." In other words, from a copy protection perspective, nothing will really change (unfortunately). But Hurd somehow tries to claim that the FCC's plan means that Google would somehow be driving users to pirated content:
"It would also allow Google — and for that matter set-top box manufacturers from all over the world, including China (where rogue boxes are being built by the millions) — to create and market applications or boxes with software that will treat legitimate and stolen material exactly the same, and may in many cases help to steer consumers to piracy."
Note again how Hurd just ignores the fact that set top box competition would also drive users to more legitimate options than ever before. No, apparently Hurd is worried that because these new set top boxes might actually connect people to the Internet (which is already happening in streaming boxes and game consoles), they'll be more likely to pirate:
"This is a real threat. Google's search engine does this today. Here’s what happens when I search “watch Fear the Walking Dead." After the paid results, the first option is AMC and the second is a pirate site — literally, side by side. Chairman Wheeler’s set-top box proposal places no restrictions on search results. If approved, it would allow device-makers to prominently display pirated content from the Internet alongside legitimate options — just like in my "watch Fear the Walking Dead" Google search.
So wait, because The Walking Dead shows up in a Google search result we shouldn't support the push for more set top box competition? Kind of throwing the baby away with the bathwater, aren't we? The FCC is proposing a system whereby users will have access to more content and cheaper, better content than ever, but because these set tops might have a browser we should run in terror? Hurd basically just takes some vague fear about piracy and uses it to villainize a reform effort that could potentially drive more legitimate viewers her direction than ever before.
Of course the idea that set top box reform is some kind of villainous Google plot to ruin the cable industry's day has been a cable industry industry narrative since the FCC's plan was unveiled. The fact that you'll see a huge number of editorials just like Hurd's popping up in newspapers and various websites nationwide isn't mystical coincidence, it's a concerted cable industry PR stunt. Given Comcast is playing a starring role in this PR offensive, Comcast's top spokesperson was quick to applaud Hurd's editorial on Twitter:
Make no mistake though. Opposition to the FCC's plan isn't about piracy, or a love of diversity, or Google, or privacy and security. It's about protecting $20 billion in captive rental fee revenue from competition. And because the cable industry can't just come out and say this fight is all about money (because we'd all just laugh at them), they're pushing an army of editorials that try to claim real set top box competition will be notably worse than a zombie apocalypse.
Late last year, we told you about a worrisome effort by the European Commission to saddle the internet with unnecessary regulations. They had released an online "consultation" which was ostensibly part of the effort to create a "Digital Single Market" (a good idea in the world of a borderless internet), but which appears to have been hijacked by some bureaucrats who saw it as an opportunity to attack big, successful internet companies and saddle them with extra regulations. It's pretty clear from the statements and the questions that the Commission is very much focused on somehow attacking Google and Facebook (and we won't even get into the fact that the people who are looking to regulate the internet couldn't even program a working online survey form properly). However, as we noted, Google and Facebook are big enough that they can handle the hurdles the EU seems intent on putting on them: it's the startups and smaller tech firms that cannot. The end result, then, would actually be to entrench the more dominant players.
We helped created a "survival guide" for those who wished to fill out the (long, arduous) survey, and many of you did. As a follow up to that, via our think tank, the Copia Institute, we've now spearheaded a followup effort, which we've put up on the Don't Wreck The Net site. It's a letter to the EU Commission, signed by a number of internet companies and investors who care deeply about keeping the internet open and competitive. You can see the letter on that site, and it has already been signed by investors such as Union Square Ventures and Homebrew and a bunch of great internet companies, including Reddit, Medium, DuckDuckGo, Patreon, Automattic (Wordpress), Yelp, CloudFlare, Shapeways and more.
Before sending it on to the EU, however, we'd love to get more companies, entrepreneurs, technologists, investors and more signed on. So if you go to the Don't Wreck The Net site, not only can you see the letter we're sending, but also the ability to sign on. If you're signing on as yourself, that's easy. If you're signing on on behalf of your organization, then we'll need to reach back out to you to obtain proof that you have the ability to sign on behalf of that organization. No matter what, please look it over and consider signing on, as it's important for the EU to recognize the consequences of what regulations they may place on the internet for the wider tech and startup ecosystem.
from the hurting-consumers-for-the-good-of-consumers-everywhere dept
It has already been a year since the FCC voted to reclassify ISPs as common carriers under the telecom act. And despite the countless calories spent by the telecom industry and its various mouthpieces claiming Title II and net neutrality would demolish all Internet investment and innovation as we know it, you may have noticed that things by and large did not implode. In fact, while the FCC has been snoozing on things like zero rating and usage caps, the mere threat of rules helped the Internet by putting an end to the interconnection shenanigans causing Netflix performance degradation.
"The Internet has always been one of the best models of the free market,” said Rubio. “There are low barriers to entry, back and forth communication between consumers and providers, and a rapid evolution of ideas. “Through burdensome regulations and tight control like the net neutrality rule, the government only hinders accessibility and the diversity of content,” added Rubio. “Consumers should be driving the market, and we can help by encouraging innovation, incentivizing investment, and promoting the competitive environment this industry needs."
While certain Internet businesses may enjoy a free market, with net neutrality specifically we're talking about the telecom industry, which simply isn't free. The telecom market is a protectionist cabal in which a handful of companies, soaked with generations of unaccountable subsidies, enjoy limited competition thanks to their immense political power. The kind of power Comcast is currently abusing with usage caps and zero rating to hurt alternative video services. The kind of power that convinces Presidential hopefuls to proudly declare they're fighting one of the most meaningful and broadly-supported consumer protection efforts in a generation -- because of an undying love of consumers.
It's also hard to argue that the net neutrality rules are "burdensome" when the FCC really hasn't even bothered to enforce them yet, and there's absolutely no objective example of said burden. Comcast imposing usage caps on uncompetitive markets, then exempting its own streaming services from them is about as clear of a violation of net neutrality that you're going to get. But because the FCC's "burdensome" regulations pussy-footed around the threat of caps and zero rating, we're actually left with the rules that don't go quite far enough.
And yes, for about the millionth time you wouldn't need net neutrality rules if we had effective competition in the broadband space. But when push comes to shove, the same people lambasting net neutrality aren't keen on supporting this policy, since it means standing up to the most powerful lobbying operations (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast) the country has to offer. As a result we get politicians that gut consumer protections, do absolutely nothing about the abysmal state of broadband competition, then proudly pat themselves on the back for being such wonderful pals to the American consumer.
With the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift prepping for launch over the next few months, the public has only just begun to be inundated with a sound wall of virtual reality media coverage. And while that's great if, like me, you've been waiting for functional, non-vomit-inducing VR since childhood, those unnerved by the idea of strapping a $600 plastic and metal headset to their face for hours will react poorly. The folks that believe games make us violent, Google makes us stupid, and cell phones make us antisocial are going to have an absolute field day demonizing VR. Usually, never having tried it.
Right on cue, the backlash began in earnest this week. Countless news outlets and Twitter users circulated this photo of Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg demonstrating Samsung Gear VR Headsets at the Mobile World Congress this week in Spain. It is, admittedly, very white, very male, and not particularly flattering:
But the Washington Post was one of numerous outlets to somehow read entire universes of meaning into the photo, breathlessly insisting it was mystically precognitive in nature, offering a glimpse into our "creepy" and "dystopian tech future":
Zuckerberg has said that, in his vision for the future, these virtual experiences will be fundamentally social. But the photo suggests something quite different: Hundreds of people share a physical space, but no perception, no experience, no phenomenological anchor. The communality of a conference (literally from conferre, 'to bring together') is thrown over for a series of hyper-individualized bubbles. And you’re reminded, from Zuckerberg’s awkward semi-smile, that the man who owns the bubbles also owns what’s in them. That controlling virtual reality, in other words, is only a step from controlling reality itself.
Ooh, scary! I'm not necessarily a fan of Zuckerberg or his tone-deafness during the recent global net neutrality fracas, but the Post's "digital culture critic" seems more than a little confused by what VR is, and what was happening at the event. As folks like Ben Kuchera were quick to point out the event was mostly harmless, with audience members being greeted with a surprise cameo by Zuckerberg after they took off their headsets. Audience members actually reacted with "gasps of excitement" at glimpsing a t-shirt clad billionaire. Nerdy white dudes being nerdy white dudes, sure. But 1984 this wasn't.
When people unfamiliar with VR see someone in a headset, many immediately picture the fat hovering people in Pixar's Wall-E, happily guzzling sugar water while anesthetized to all greater meaning. But while many spent the week deriding VR as a Zuckerberg-controlled big brother enslavement tool, most of the people that have actually tried VR realize it has amazing potential as a tool for creation, expression and connectivity for artists, story tellers, journalists, and musicians. Again, once people actually try VR, it doesn't take long to see the potential.
Yet all week the photo had a bizarre, hypnotizing effect on the media that overshadowed this fact. Fusion, for example, became oddly transfixed by the heaviest man in the photo, magically equating his daily caloric surplus with the idea that VR will somehow make us all miserable:
If you were to choose an attendee in the crowd who most represents You, it would be probably be this man. Here you are, six years from today: Unsatisfied, dour, a VR headset crammed onto your face. Your belongings are at your feet, your computer balances on your lap, your identifying lanyard hangs from your neck. You are watching…something? It doesn’t matter. You hate it.
That's some rich analysis, yo. The existential fear of VR from the Luddite wing of the American electorate is palpably bizarre. The Atlantic, for example, published a piece of moody dystopian fiction based entirely on the heavyset man in the photo. The piece is set years in the future -- after we've all apparently become fatter, sadder and notably less productive thanks to Zuckerberg's villainy.
It apparently needs noting: putting on a VR headset doesn't magically prevent you from eating kale, doing yoga or going for a run. If you're chubby outside of VR, you're still chubby with a headset strapped to your head. That's not somehow VR's fault. At the same time, if you've actually watched some of the developer demos for games like Budget Cuts, you'd realize VR gaming can be a very physical and social experience. Still nerdy as hell, granted. But VR is not, contrary to this week's press narrative, somehow synonymous with servitude and muscle atrophy.
We've been over this before at Techdirt countless times. Each and every time a new technology emerges this same narrative bubbles forth: "this new technology is going to make us less social than ever and usher forth a terrifying future where nobody interacts!" XKCD highlighted quite well a few years ago how this idea is neither accurate nor new, and it's getting downright boring:
Does VR have some major PR obstacles to broader adoption? Absolutely. The initial cost of entry is significant, given to do VR "right" you need a quality headset (the Oculus Rift is $600 at launch and the HTC Vive will be $800) and a higher end PC with a beefy graphics card (around $1000-$1500) capable of powering it. But what will begin as a high-end playpen for art, porn and video gaming will quickly evolve into adoption at schools, universities and homes everywhere -- especially as the technology matures, its uses expand, and prices drop.
Sure, until VR tech can be shrunk down and integrated into contacts or glasses we'll all look downright stupid wearing VR headsets. It's just a fact.
But if you're dismissing an entire technological revolution for appearance's sake, the problem would be yours, not virtual reality's.
from the regulation-is-bad,-unless-it-helps-me dept
As we've documented extensively, the auto industry has worked tirelessly to erect barriers to Tesla's market entry. Legacy automakers have been engaged in sustained hysterics specifically regarding Tesla's direct-to-consumer sales model, which lets customers buy vehicles directly from Tesla online, with limited showrooms to view, touch and test drive the Tesla vehicles. Annoyed by this pesky Californian upstart, the auto industry has frequently tied draft legislation to campaign contributions to ban Tesla's successful model. Why compete when you can cheat?
We need your help. Yesterday, the Indiana Senate Committee on Commerce & Technology held a hearing on a bill that would shut down Tesla in the state. Authored and pushed by General Motors, HB1254 with amendment 3 would prohibit any manufacturer from being able to hold a dealer license after December 31, 2017. Existing law allows ANY manufacturer to apply for a dealer license without the use of independent franchised dealers.
Despite having a lawfully granted license to sell Tesla vehicles directly since 2014 at the Fashion Mall at Keystone; despite contributing over $42M to the state through the purchase of parts and components from Indiana suppliers; and despite plans underway to construct a 26,000 square foot Tesla Service facility that will employ approximately a dozen Indiana residents and serve our customers, GM is pushing the Senate Committee to shut out Tesla.
In other words, it's another legacy company deriding regulation at every opportunity -- except when it protects it from having to actually compete. While Tesla tells Ars Technica that it has no direct proof GM authored the bill, as we've seen in telecom, legacy companies all but own many state legislatures. Legislatures that are happy to shovel forth any and every bill (usually middle manned by groups like ALEC to present the feeblest attempt at propriety) provided the price is right. Tesla notes that GM could mirror Tesla's direct to consumer sales model, but would rather erect new barriers to entry than actually compete.
GM seems relatively unfazed by the fact that the FTC last year slapped Michigan for trying the same thing. Ask GM, of course, and the narrative changes dramatically. The legacy automaker tried to tell Ars that it's Tesla that's trying to craft special rules for itself, despite the fact that GM is the one pushing for the rule changes:
GM supports HB 1254. GM believes that all industry participants should operate under the same rules and requirements on fundamental issues that govern how we sell, service and market our products. A benefit of a nationwide network of thousands of dealerships is that General Motors customers never have to worry about driving to another state to buy, service or support their vehicles.
Tesla's insistence on special rules could result in multiple manufacturers competing with similarly capable vehicles and similar price points, yet operating under a different set of rules. Tesla could open a franchised dealership with an independent operator in Indiana today, but instead they insist that the State must first provide them with unique rules and special exceptions to suit their own business interests. In fact, Tesla was willing to agree to a dealer model in Virginia. The Indiana legislature shouldn't create a special exemption for them here.
Of course that's crap, and GM is turning logic on its head. Tesla has been operating a showroom in the Fashion Mall storefront since December 2013. It's GM that could follow Tesla's lead (like some Seattle Honda and Toyota dealers) and push for direct-from-manufacturer sales, but would rather use our broken legislative process to protect the status quo franchise dealership system. This has been an ongoing headache for Tesla in states like New Jersey, Texas, Arizona and especially Virginia, where auto-industry laws prohibited the company from opening a simple showroom.
Be it telecom or the auto industry, the fact that legacy industries can still write and buy anti-competitive state laws is a problem we simply refuse to fix.
The FCC voted 3-2 today to begin dismantling the cable industry's long-standing monopoly over ye olde set top cable box. As noted previously, the FCC is pushing a proposal that would require cable operators make their programming accessible to third-party set top manufacturers, without requiring the use of a CableCARD. The goal is to create competition in the set top box market, giving consumers a choice of better and cheaper gear, in the same way consumers can buy their own cable modems. 99% of consumers currently pay about $231 annually in rental fees for hardware that's generally worth about half that much.
Note this morning's vote simply sets forth a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that won't be voted on and fully revealed to the public until later this spring. The NPRM also indicates that cable operators will have two years from full approval to implement the changes. Assuming, that is, the elections don't end up with a totally revamped FCC that reverses the plan.
As you might expect, the cable industry has been engaged in hysterical, breathless protest against the FCC's proposal, since it would instantly demolish around $20 billion in captive revenue cable providers enjoy every year. The industry's also well aware that third-party set tops will be much more likely to include streaming services that compete with cable, accelerating cord cutting as the nation's Luddites suddenly realize they don't need to pay $150 a month for five hundred channels of garbage they don't actually watch.
But the industry can't just come out and admit these obvious motivations, so they've turned to the usual practice of farmed outrage in editorial sections nationwide. Including the creation of the Future of TV Coalition, which calls itself a "diverse group of programmers, content creators, civic groups and television providers" who've joined forces to "celebrate and promote the thriving innovation" going on in the cable industry. This group has been making the rounds trying to argue that set top box competition would destroy the universe as we know it, harm innovation, damage consumer privacy, and even hurt minorities.
On the heels of the vote, the group was quick to fire out an e-mail statement blaming "big tech" for the FCC's plan to...secretly make life hell for American cable consumers:
"The massive outpouring of opposition to this costly and destructive rule from members of congress, the creative community, TV distributors, and public advocates reflects a basic truth: the rules under consideration will drive up consumer costs, hurt programmers (and most especially small and diversity programming), and blow a gaping hole in Congressional protections for our TV privacy – all for an unnecessary government giveaway to Big Tech. In short, this rule does not make sense.
"Among Pai's concerns were what he said could be the advserse impact on programmers, including on diverse programmers. "[N]othing in this proposal would prevent a set-top box manufacturer from replacing the commercials in a television show with commercials sold by that manufacturer. And nothing in this proposal would prevent a set-top box manufacturer from adding commercials to a program," he said."
This idea that "big tech" companies like Google and TiVo will come in and intentionally filter out minority programming is something the industry has been scare-mongering over for weeks, but there's no evidence of this actually being a threat. Logically, broader access to cheaper, better hardware would be good for all consumers, as would access to a broader array of streaming options, layered on top of existing content. FCC boss Tom Wheeler was quick to state that these claims are "red herrings" being pushed by an industry that's perfectly happy with the status quo, and that nothing in his plan puts existing content or business relationships at risk:
"There is nothing in here that allows third parties to disaggregate cable content or sell advertising around it... It takes the same system that goes to the cable box today with the same structures and moves it through a different box requiring the same structures. As a result, existing copyrights and programming agreements are unaffected, consumer privacy is protected, emergency alerts are passed through and child protection laws are unaffected. Nothing in this proposal slows down or stops cable innovation."
While the cable industry's opposition is by and large bullshit, there are some lingering questions with the FCC's well-intentioned plan. One, the plan will require an awful lot of effort, political fighting, enforcement and FCC man hours to revamp a technology that Internet video will likely make irrelevant in the next decade anyway. And once implemented, providers will likely look to simply recoup that lost revenue from broadband users in uncompetitive markets in the form of more fees, usage caps, zero rating and other potentially anti-competitive behavior. Behavior the FCC has been turning a blind eye to -- to focus on the cable box.
Following that line of thinking long term, it may have been wiser for the FCC to focus its energy and resources on broadband competition, and leave the cable box for dead as the vultures begin to circle overhead.
It's still somewhat strange to me to see how badly some companies react to basic competition. Yes, sometimes that means companies lose, but it doesn't automatically make any and all competition unfair. An online map company, StreetMap.Eu sued Google a few years ago, claiming that Google's entrance into the online mapping world, and specifically including maps in search results, was unfair competition. However, the UK High Court has now, rightfully, rejected such a claim. The basis of the ruling seemed rather straightforward:
But the judge ruled that the introduction by Google of the new-style Maps OneBox in 2007 was "not reasonably likely appreciably to affect competition in the market for online maps".
The judge added that, in any event, Google's conduct was " objectively justified".
StreetMap's director Kate Sutton, however, is insisting that the company will appeal and says the whole thing is "unfair."
"The decision is unfair for small businesses," Sutton said, and added that StreetMap would attempt to appeal against the judgment, which found that Google's search dominance had not directly harmed competition in the UK's online mapping market.
I'm kind of curious what Sutton thinks is the appropriate remedy here: that no larger company should ever be allowed to offer services useful to consumers, which might somehow be "unfair" to smaller competitors? I'm a huge supporter of more competition in innovative services, but that should be driven by what's best for consumers, not what's best for small companies. Besides, plenty of small companies figure out how to innovate and take on large companies. The fact that her company has chosen not to do so is not Google's fault. Hell, Google itself, when it showed up entered a very crowded market and was laughed at for being such a small player in a market dominated by established companies. And what happened there?