“Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to, not because they're forced to, or because they can't find alternatives. This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers. To the contrary, it would artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use.”
Kent Walker, SVP of Global Affairs at Google
Though Google will now have its day in federal court, thanks to the Justice Department, it’s coming out strong in the court of public opinion. In a blog post, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs, Kent Walker, details all the reasons why Google isn’t a modern monopoly — all of which circle around people thinking it’s the best product. But it’s hard to know for sure what’s the best when a behemoth is taking up all the oxygen in the room.
People love Google, we swear! — The DOJ’s lawsuit centers on Google Search, the foundation of its tech empire, and Walker makes quick work of pointing out the competition (while dragging them in the process). He asserts Google is only the main search in Safari because Apple thinks it's the best. Bing and Yahoo prominently advertise their services there as well, and users can easily change the browser search engine. He also makes a brief point about Google not coming pre-loaded on computers running Windows which put Microsoft’s own products front and center.
Basically, every day, people could choose to change their search engine and don’t. Walker even mentions Yahoo being the default on Mozilla Firefox and people actively change it to Google all the time. Plus, Google isn’t even the default in the PC market, and let’s throw smoke in Microsoft’s direction about it pushing its products to the front.
When discussing Android, Walker notes that carriers and phone manufacturers offer competing apps all the time. Users are free to download any other search engine they want, even Bing.
'Free' markets — At a certain point, Walker essentially calls the DOJ a bunch of idiots who don’t know how people use the internet, and reaches all the way back to the 1990s as a relevant framework for their stance. Anyone can download any app and Google isn't necessarily competing with other search engines, but other companies suspected of anti-competitive behavior like Amazon. It's a weird thing to draw attention to, considering Yelp is one of the biggest champions of this move as Google Search features have systemically cut into its business over the years.
“American antitrust law is designed to promote innovation and help consumers, not tilt the playing field in favor of particular competitors or make it harder for people to get the services they want,” Walker wrote. “We’re confident that a court will conclude that this suit doesn’t square with either the facts or the law. In the meantime, we remain absolutely focused on delivering the free services that help Americans every day.”
Walker’s whole response makes Google feel like the little guy with surgical cuts at peers like Microsoft and Amazon. It only has that scrappy viewpoint, however, because it’s only playing with other tech giants. Smaller players have no incentive to offer competition when the “free services” Google provides are bolstered with swaths of user data that continue to give it and its stable of products a leg up in the market.