Picker on "How to Give Google More Competition"

How to Give Google More Competition
Randal C. Picker
Bloomberg.com
November 29, 2012

Where should you go out for dinner tonight? This is a common Google (GOOG) question, but regulators in the U.S. and the European Union suspect that Google is tilting its answers in favor of its own properties.

Not its own restaurants, of course, because the company isn’t in the restaurant business. Rather, Google Inc. (GOOG) has moved from merely organizing search to owning content and the answers to questions. By competing with Yelp Inc. (YELP) and others in category searches, such as reviews of local businesses, it has drawn scrutiny from regulators.

Since at least May, the EU has been looking at whether Google is biasing its results for these so-called vertical searches. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission isn’t as public about its process, but Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page spent Nov. 27 with the FTC, an indicator that the commission’s investigation of Google has reached a critical stage.<