Although some Senators were clearly on Google's side, the majority made thinly veiled accusations that Google's search algorithms, combined with their dominant position in the search market, violated antitrust laws.
Complaining about the ranking of Google Products listings in their search results, Utah Senator Mike Lee said:
I see you magically coming up third every time. I don't know whether you call this a separate algorithm or whether you've reverse engineered one algorithm, but either way you've cooked it, so that you're always third.
He went on to accuse Google of favoring not just their own services, but also websites running Google provided ads.
Most of the questions for Schmidt centered around the specifics of Google's search algorithm which, predictably, he was unable to answer in any detail. Instead his responses concentrated on the ease of transitioning from Google services to their competitors and their focus on delivering answers rather than just links.
None of that swayed Google's detractors, who argued that when those answers come primarily from other Google services they may violate antitrust laws.
Responding to criticism by Yelp's Jeremy Stoppelman that Google had removed his company's content from their search results, Schmidt pointed out that it was done at Yelp's request.
The issue, in Yelp's particular case, is a dispute over whether Google should differentiate between information presented from a general search and that from Google Places. Stoppelman doesn't want Google to show the page summary you would find using Google search in the Places results.
This difference of opinion paints a good picture of the dispute between Google and many of their detractors. From Google's point of view, Google Places is just their search engine with a different interface, while Yelp considers it a standalone competing product.
Nothing new came out at the hearing, but considering Google's search dominance, the success of Android, and their recent decision to purchase Motorola Mobility, chances are everything covered yesterday will be revisited by the FTC and perhaps the Department of Justice in the not too distant future.
Written by: Rich Fiscus @ 22 Sep 2011 16:44