You are here
Google Chrome replacing browser with search bar? -- Replacing a neutral bar with a non-neutral bar?
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2008-09-03 10:28
Most everyone has missed the net neutrality and broader competitive significance of Google launching it's own browser -- Chrome -- by myopicly viewing it only through the browser competition lens vis-a-vis Microsoft Explorer.
Goals and motives matter. Listen to how Google describes its goal with Chrome:
- "The goal was to make people forget they are using a browser," said Sundar Pichai, Vice President of Product Management at Google.
What that means is that Google's goal here is to effectively and increasingly replace the neutral browser bar with Google's search advertising bar over time.
What that also means is that rather than typing a URL into a neutral browser bar that neutrally takes the user directly to the site that the user requested... Google will increasingly default the user of the browser bar to a Google page of search results with Google ads and Google's favored content.
- Google's implicit scheme behind Chrome is to effectively and increasingly bundle/integrate the browser bar and search bar over time. This has broad and significant competitive implications.
- The most obvious is that it the Chrome bar increasingly will not be a 'neutral' gateway to the Internet, because it will increasingly divert Internet users from where they specifically asked to go, to a way-station page of Google's search results -- where Google can offer ads and begin monetizing browser use for the first time.
- This new Google Chrome 'efficiency' will increasingly be more about efficiency for Google than efficiency for the user, because it transforms the neutral browser bar into a potentially discriminatory direct link to Google's results page.
- Google will claim the user benefits from having to click again to get to their original desired URL location, because Google has so thoughtfully questioned the legitimacy of the user's requested URL and offered the user other destinations to go to, that they didn't request, and that just happen to be the destinations that make Google the most money to appear before the user.
- The supreme irony here is that Google is the leading corporate champion of new net neutrality legislation to ensure that users have complete freedom to access the content of their choice without discrimination or interference from intermediaries.
- Is there any reasonable or objective person who can argue that the browser and search bars are not internet access points?
- And if the FCC's net neutrality principles apply to applications as well as service providers, why does Google continue the charade that net neutrality should only apply to broadband providers and not also to Google, the dominant search provider, which is increasingly the primary gateway for Internet users to find the content of their choice on the Internet?
Bottom line: Google's goal is to "make people forget they are using a browser." Given the storied antitrust history of the browser bundling, and given that the DOJ is seriously investigating Google's proposed advertising 'partnership' with its main competitor, Yahoo, -- Google's designs to leverage its dominance in search into other markets by effectively and increasingly bundling search and browsing -- should attract attention by the DOJ -- as another important piece in the antitrust puzzle.
- Internet users should remain vigilant that Google does not block, impede or impair their Internet freedom to directly reach the addressed content of their choice by diverting them to Google's ads and favored content first.