The problem with all this information, Internet commerce, and multitude of websites (offering goods and/or services) is finding them. Hence, the advent of that successful Internet business, the "web crawler" also known as a Web Search Engine. Google was not the first, but gained prominence as one of the most independent and best. Unfortunately, all three of the biggest, including Google, and also Yahoo and Bing (the first and the last, respectively) is that they pervert the very essence of their purpose in a manner which constitutes, possibly, anti-trust concerns as well as unfair and deceptive trade practices.
They do this in several ways. First and foremost, the most egregious manner in which they do this is when the search results appear in an order which places paid advertisements on top of the list. The innocent public is relying upon these search engines to provide a list of the most relevant web sites according to the objective criteria usually used by the Web Search Engine. Instead, sites which pay money jump to the top of the list, giving them an unfair advantage and misleading the innocent public.
I am not talking about the use of banner advertisements. We all know what they are. In fact, our viewing these advertisements is the compensation we expect to pay, and we expect the search engine to receive, for allowing us to use their search engine. It is analogous to the manner in which we (are forced to) watch commercials on TV, which funds the production and airing of the program we are watching.
Instead, the search engines hit us with a second, and hidden, way of getting compensated. This constitutes unfair and deceptive trade practices because we don't know that it is happening, and it is to our detriment and the search engine's profit. And don't let the search engines argue that they advise you in their disclaimers that this can occur. First, no one can find, read, and comprehend all the disclaimers they are hit with on the Internet. Second, as there are only three major search engines, these disclaimers still run afoul, potentially, of anti-trust laws.
Specifically, as there are only three search engines which dominate the market, their dominance of the market deprives us of the ability to seek alternative search engines which do not engage in this activity. Because this activity inhibits and dominates our access to all of that essential information, commerce, etc. on the Internet, regulating and prohibiting such practices is greatly in the public interest.
The second manner in which these search engines harm the user/consumer is by creating and purchasing other web sites, such as Google Earth and YouTube. Many of these products/services were created by other companies, but either purchased by the big three search engines or competing versions have been offered by them. I have no problem with this, so long as it is made clear to the consumer that they are being directed to a website owned by the search engine.
I have no problem with Google, even though it is arguably the most guilty of this, as they are the biggest search engine and have bought some of the biggest related web sites, like Google Earth (which I thoroughly enjoy.) Google deserved to be the biggest, as it was built from scratch, and its independence and the quality of its service was the best.
I am also troubled by the entry of Microsoft into search engines and related products. A strong Google is a counter measure to Microsoft, which continues to enter each and every aspect of software and the Internet.
Internet Explorer is now the number one Internet browser, and has dominance in the market, even though it was not even close to being the first. There were many word processing programs and other office related programs, like Word Perfect and Lotus 123 which were innovators and preceded Microsoft Office, yet were effectively driven out of business by Microsoft and its business products. I could go on and on, and for example, mention Microsoft's entry into the Instant Message area, e-mail area, video and audio player areas, and on and on.
I am glad Google is far ahead of Bing (owned by Microsoft), and I hope Bing fails. But, no matter how many search engines there are, with related services, they need to get their act together and act honestly towards the user/consumer, especially with regards to the results in their search engines.
Postscript: Just two days after I wrote and posted this blog, on May 10, 2011, Microsoft announced its purchase of Skype. This shows that my concerns were well founded and the problem I discuss is getting worse.
Back to Main Page of Blog
http://usa-china-international.blogspot.com/ http://usa-china-international.blogspot.com/http://usa-china-international.blogspot.com/ http://usa-china-international.blogspot.com/ http://usa-china-international.blogspot.com/ http://usa-china-international.blogspot.com/
E-Mail Me with your comments