Google Lost its Biggest Regulatory Battle, Fined $2.4 billion For Skewing Searches

Google lost its biggest regulatory battle yet, getting a record €2.4 billion ($2.7 billion) fine from European Union enforcers who say the search-engine giant skewed results in its favour to thwart smaller shopping search services.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google has 90 days to “stop its illegal conduct” and give equal treatment to rival price-comparison services, according to a binding order from the European Commission on Tuesday. It’s up to Google to choose how it does this and it must tell the EU within 60 days of its plans. Failure to comply brings a risk of fines of up to 5% of its daily revenue.

“Google’s strategy for its comparison-shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief. “It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services.”

Shares of Mountain View, California-based Google fell 1.5% in pre-market trading in New York. They’ve risen 23% so far this year.

Vestager’s decision marks the end of a lengthy seven-year probe fuelled by complaints from small shopping websites as well as bigger names, including News Corp., Axel Springer SE and Microsoft Corp. European politicians have called on the EU to sanction Google or even break it up while US critics claim regulators are targeting successful American firms.

“I expect the Commission now to swiftly conclude the other two ongoing investigations against Google,” Markus Ferber, a member of the European Parliament from Germany. “Unfortunately, the Google case also illustrates that competition cases tend to drag on for far too long before they are eventually resolved. In a fast-moving digital economy this means often enough that market abuse actually pays off and the abuser succeeds in eliminating the competition.”

Google has been pushing its own comparison shopping service since 2008, systematically giving it prominent placement when people search for an item, the EU said. Rival comparison sites usually only appear on page four of search results, effectively denying them a massive audience as the first page attracts 95% of all clicks.

“As a result of Google’s illegal practices, traffic to Google’s comparison-shopping service increased significantly, whilst rivals have suffered very substantial losses of traffic on a lasting basis,” the EU said, citing figures of a 45% increase in traffic for Google’s service.

Tuesday’s fines could just be the first in a series of EU antitrust penalties for Google, which is fighting on at least two other fronts, including its Android mobile-phone software and the AdSense online advertising service. The decision follows Russia’s $7.8 million antitrust fine and penalties from Italian, German and French privacy authorities. Europe has proved a tough jurisdiction for Google, which fell foul of the region’s top court, losing a high-profile right-to-be-forgotten case three years ago.

“Vestager is proving she means business,” said Thomas Vinje, a lawyer who represents FairSearch, a group of companies that complained to the EU. “This decision will mean that consumers receive comparison-shopping results that offer genuinely the best purchasing options.”

While the penalty is a record, it will do little to faze a company whose parent has more than $90 billion in cash. Of graver concern is the way regulators called on Google to change the way it handles online shopping searches, one of its biggest sources of sales growth and strongest weapons against rivals Facebook Inc. and Inc.

The EU says that Google doesn’t subject its own service to its algorithm, which ranks search results on quality and relevance to the user.

The EU’s allegations strike at the heart of a type of online advertising known as Product Listing Ads, or PLAs, that is growing at almost three times the rate of traditional text-based search ads, according to digital marketing firm Merkle Inc. The format lets a marketer place an ad for an item with large images and price information in the prime digital real estate at the top of search results.

Vestager doesn’t fear big numbers. She has ordered Apple Inc. to repay some €13 billion in tax advantages and hit truck makers with a record cartel fine of nearly 3 billion euros. The Google fine tops a €1.06 billion penalty eight years ago for Intel Corp., which is still waiting for the final outcome of a court appeal.

Her move against Google risks attracting further criticism that she’s unfairly singled out US companies. While she’s said American firms are “under no specific fire because of their nationality,” transatlantic tensions are already on the rise after President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate accord, adding to concerns over global trade.

Even so, any backlash against the Google decision from American industry is likely to be reduced. US companies played a big part in lobbying the EU to take action after US regulators ended their investigation into Google search.


PM Modi Is Listed In The Most Stupid PM’s of the world On Google, Here's Why

If you are a PM Modi follower or even if you’re an Indian, this will definitely make you mad when we’ll tell you that search ‘Most stupid PM in the world’ and the name of Indian PM Narendra Modi appears at the top. Like the reaction you must be having reading our story, we had the same when got to know that PM Narendra Modi is listed as “Most stupid PM in the world” in the top-class search engine Google.

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It is not for the first time that it has happened with the Modi. Google apologized from the PM Modi after Modi’s image started appearing in search results of “Top 10 criminals”. Along with 1993 Mumbai bomb blast mastermind, Modi was also listed under the list. However, the famous search engine Google apologized for “any confusion or misunderstanding” happened with the PM Modi’s name in it.

You Google “Most stupid Prime Ministers in the World” it and PM Modi’s name will appear in it as well. Isn’t this shameful as PM Modi is one of the most famous Prime Ministers in the world? Yes, it is unarguably a shameful thing. But we couldn’t blame Google for it. It actually depends on the algorithm of search criteria and what the majority of people search on Google. As we all know very well, PM Modi is very famous and without any doubt is on top of the search list on the ace search engine. So, there are anti-Modi people on the internet as well.

Some articles on the internet (hardly 5), promoting his stupidity, makes an impact among others and therefore this thing is being highlighted on the Google. Antagonism is much like favoritism and is inevitable to popularity. As a result, many of the people searched for it must be very high and that’s why PM Modi’s name has been showing on the Google. All you can do is just calm down as we all know that PM Modi is a popular personality and there are some people who are anti of him. That’s it. Hopefully, Google will apologize for it as well.

India's GDP Is Less Than Untaxed Cash Of Cos Like Apple, Google

As per a recently published report by a US-based institute, some of the biggest US companies like Apple, Google, Pepsi, Coke, Mcdonald’s etc. are presently holding over an enormous $2.6 trillion in offshore accounts. Talking about the report by Institute for tax and Economic Policy (ITEP), 322 out of the top 500 US companies have large offshore holdings. The report also shows up that the $2.6 trillion is the highest ever amass by any US company and it has priced at the country’s government a net tax loss of marvelous $767 billion. The report reveals the data from the 10-K filings that are the reports filed by US companies with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

If you have not noticed yet about the untaxed funds from the US companies, then let us inform you that it is more than India’s GDP, four times the US budget on Defence and is approximately equal to the $2.45 trillion compulsory spending by US government in 2015 on unemployment, food, social security, and medicare. The most common and biggest question arises in the mind is that how these companies kept their profits abroad and evaded the country’s taxes? It could be because these companies must have found a loophole in the US tax code that worked in the favor of the companies immensely. In an interview with the Times of India, ITEP’s Richard Phillip talked about the loophole.

He said there’s a provision in US tax code named as ‘deferral’, where companies are allowed to not pay additional US taxes on their offshore earnings until that money is sent back. And the companies only have to pay when the money gets technically repatriated; the companies need to pay the full taxes, excluding those that are already being paid like any foreign taxes. To get the money that is stashed abroad and to bring it back, the US President Donald Trump has proposed an amnesty scheme where companies can bring their offshore earnings by giving out a one-time 10 percent tax.

The current tax rate for corporate taxes in 35 percent in the US, but 10 percent one-time tax scheme is offered by the government to get back the offshore earnings of these companies. In 2004, the former US President George W Bush also made the similar amnesty scheme where companies just had to pay one-time 5.25 percent tax. As per the financial experts, the scheme turned out to be a big failure as many of the companies that stashed more cash in the abroad were optimistic that the government would come up with tax holidays to bring back the money in the country.

The financial experts believe that the best way to make this practice right is by making the companies pay their taxes immediately on their offshore earnings. There should not be any window time given to them to postpone these taxes under the current law. If the tax avoidance freedom is taken away, then the companies have to bring back their cash into the country.

Source: Indianweb2

Google, Samsung, Apple 2017 Flagship Will Be Very Expensive

As the competition in the mobile market is increasing rapidly, the top smartphones from the big brands are going to be very expensive.  The market researchers predicted that upcoming flagship smartphones from top brands will be highly costly. The upcoming phones from Apple, Samsung and Google are said to come on the market at very expensive prices because of the heavy competition between the mobile companies in the race to perform best.

According to Early reports, it is said that Samsung is planning to match Apple’s planned price rise that indicates Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8 series will cost more than of $1,000. The earlier report by the Samsung-obsessed tech website Samsung Mobile revealed that Galaxy S8 (SM-5950) and the Galaxy S8 Plus (SM-G955) will come on the market at the prices of $950 and $1,050 respectively after a currency change. The interesting thing is that electronics have different costs, according to the countries, but also the other important thing is that the 2017 models are carrying circa $100 premium.

The Samsung mobile phone lovers who are going to pay the sky-high price, the Samsung’s initial Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus will also provide the color options. At the Launch, Black, Orchid Gray, and Gold will be available. After few months of launch, Samsung may offer more colors in it usually do. One thing is absolutely clear that 2017 won’t be a year of incremental upgrades like the previous year. It is also said that iPhone 8 is going to flaunt wholly a new design, and the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus will have gigantic 5.8inch and 6.2inch displays. The great news about the iPhone is that Apple is putting out a huge 5.8 inches OLED-based Flagship this year. This news came from the ‘Nikkei’ newspaper, which is one of the world’s major financial newspapers. Apple is working towards to obtain a larger display and still trying to keep the size of the phone below the ‘bulky’ tag.     The Apple is also working on the camera of the phone to make it competitive in the world of Smartphones.

On the other side, Google is also working out to give a stiff competition to the top mobile brands. Google came up with its first Pixel flagships last year and it made its position in the world of ‘expensive’ handsets territory. The Pixel smartphones of the Google received an extraordinary response for its camera performance. There’s no doubt in that Pixel 2 is one of the most awaited smartphones of this year. According to some reports, Google is playing hard to compete with rivals Apple and Samsung in the world of a good camera phone.

The competition between these top brands is visibly going to impact buyers or customers. The users ought to expect that all the flagships from these 3 top smartphone brands to put a price tag of $1,000 at least. As the Top brands are reaching to some other level with their price charts, the smaller companies like Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, Huawei, Xiaomi and many other companies have the chance to win the hearts of smartphone lovers with the best features and guarantee of good performance at a reasonable price. The Samsung is going to unveil its flagships by the end of this month, so Apple and Google have the fair amount of time in their hands to observe the new Galaxy and decide their final flagships thus for the September launch.