Google pull-out will crush Australian business

Via Crikey:

This weekend brought a lot of heated bluster from old media (and its political representatives) about Google’s supposed threat to democracy.

In Senate hearings on Friday, Google Australia head Mel Silva confirmed the company would pull the search engine from Australia if the federal government hurried ahead with its mandatory news bargaining code as currently drafted. This confirmed Crikey’s report the week earlier: the code, as is, means no Google search.

It gave Scott Morrison a Howard moment — “we’ll decide who searches Australia and the manner in which they search!” — as he huffed, “we don’t respond to threats”. (This will surely be news to anyone who follows the LNP-News Corp relationship.)

Morrison was wrong as a matter of law. The Australian Parliament is constrained by the Howard-era Australia-US free trade agreement, and the US trade representative last week raised concerns that the code may breach the agreement.

This allowed tech reform campaigners to highlight the demonstration of big tech’s raw power, even at risk of an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” embrace of News Corp. Meanwhile, people on social media canvassed alternatives from the not-for-profit search engine DuckDuckGo to Microsoft’s Bing to a VPN (virtual private network) to access Google offshore. Australia would no doubt adapt in some way.

On the way through, however, a Google-less Australian internet threatens a crisis for small businesses which rely on a hyper-local market (that is, most of them). In Australia, as in most of the world, among the most common words at the end of any search are “near me”.

A December report (funded by Google) on the search engine’s economic impact on Australia concluded that the company provided $39 billion of value to Australian businesses, 60% of it to small and medium businesses.

As the Mandy Rice-Davies heuristic goes: they would say that, wouldn’t they?

Still, search and social media distribution has inarguably provided greater and cheaper advertising opportunities for small businesses — from keywords in general search to Google’s geographical interfaces Maps and Waze. As we mourn the loss of local newspapers, Google and Facebook have given these businesses the ability to micro-target new and existing customers.

Thousands of local businesses have shaped their offering and their branding around the opportunities they’re offered. There will be transition costs if they’re now forced to change (for lesser alternatives) and, coming in the midst of the pandemic, it will tip more than a few businesses over the edge.

This is a reminder that there are no good guys in the big tech v old media fight. When the elephants butt heads, the ants get trampled.

Here’s the key: the fight is not about whether the big platforms will pay for journalism. That’s agreed. It’s more about how much they pay and what they pay for.

Google is offering to pay for articles that are published in its editorially curated News Showcase which leans towards journalistic quality, small media and sits outside paywalls. That’s the deal it reached with French publishers, most German publishers (other than the Murdoch-lite Springer group) and Reuters.

Google is Australian business. Any pull-out will deliver instantaneous recession.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)

Comments

  1. I don’t understand why they would need to pull out together. Wouldn’t an option be to simply block any Australian news site from showing up in search results? Is there something else in the proposed legislation that makes that infeasible?

    • The draft code is requiring Google to provide news “partners” with 28 days advance notice of search algorithm changes.

      My bet is these algorithms are driven by AI, and change every few minutes. If that’s the case then it’s technically unworkable and they would need to withdraw the service or fundamentally change how Google search functions just for the Australian Market.

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      That’s what happened in Spain and Belgium. It only really hurt the smaller publishers though.

      • kierans777MEMBER

        > It only really hurt the smaller publishers though.

        That’s the whole point after all. Knock smaller publishers, especially those who aren’t pushing the pro Liberal narrative out of the way, while gaming the algos to make sure that the established MSM gets their content to the top of the list.

        The whole point of the code is not about fairness, but about entrenching the pro Liberal media.

    • From my understanding there are rules in the code that prevent ‘excluding’ results. This is just media baron extortion.

        • Well yes. Murdoch and Morrison have an agreement. The government will fund Murdoch’s operations either from tax payer funds or extortion like this as long as the coverage continues to be favourable. It is quite transparent.

      • I,, and many to my knowledge including young IT types since it started use Duckduckgo. Lots of Australians do. It does not track or store information. Quite clearly there are a number of search engines offering alternatives to creepy Google and far better imho.
        Further as I was given massive doses of seratide a cortisol mimic and glucocorticoid in 2005, I became asthmatic developing 30% lung volume when put on it as a “preventer” getting sicker all the time. I searched Google about 3 times week trying to find answers and solution with zero success just marketing essentially until 2018 January I got DDG. I found the issues with one search. Lots and lots of information, studies, research.

        Similarly searching Google for Aus climate records in the colony and before gave me only infinite global warming articles. One search on DDG gave page and half of records and papers on Aus climate related to my search, and not global warming, just records. Aus can do better than creepy Google.

        • DDG is problematic for some Aus based search. It’s my default on FF/iOS but I often have to go to Google for local trade search.

          As to the asthma stuff, what specifically were you searching for? Genuinely interested on that one.

          • Re asthma, was looking for cause and looking for cure broadly. I was post menopause, just, given seratide drip because of a stress related allergy for a week, had panic attacks during this and given seratide puffer. Sent home with seratide tablets and told to use ventolin and seratide puffer twice a day. This resulted in my becoming asthmatic,

            No doctor responded to my concern, I looked 20 years younger than my age before this.I have always had extreme health, rarely got sick can almost count over my lifetime, family has extreme fully functional longevity. Told me I was silly about weight gain, hair falling out, thinning skin, separately gym teacher noticed I had lost strength in pump, which I did not attribute to the drug, I had as little as possible. Kept seeing identifiable women on it. I started at 58 kg 5’6” thick long hair. doing 105 kg on the leg press. All Google gave was need to watch your diet, your fault if weight gain. Asthma foundation supported by GlaxoSmithKlein etc sane story, don’t know why people get it, no cure.

            DDG, it’s a cortisol mimic, systemic breakdown of tissue, prefrontal cortes(despair, apathy, ) mmemory, eats heart wall, endothelium so capillaries gone, loss of muscle, loss of tissue, lreduction in digestive enzymes, and the flesh converted to fat deposited on belly, face and upper back finally. Oh and cataracts, actually something like 50 so called side effects including lowered immunity, brain tumours, osteoporosis, bad joints death by brain tumours. Doctors all said a puffer delivering material to lungs does NOT give effects in rest of body. fact is the puffer is taken on mucous membranes of mouth, throat and bronchi, alveoli and thus transported systemically. Doctors get upset if told that.

            As the glucocorticoids preventers (not) are cortisol mimics they block the body’s own cortisol production by the adrenal cortex, which simultaneously produces DHEA an anabolic hormone which reverses the catabolic breakdown of the body. DHEA insufficiency itself causes lungs to be itchy, crohns, lupus and suchlike.

            As cortisol ia systemic hormone the mimic drug affects other hormones, in my case likely thyroid and alters metabolism. The weight gain doctors blame on fat lazy patients who crave food and sweet food as they experience the metabolic disaster, is not helped by dieting, The drug keeps targeting heart wall, blood vessels, lens of the eye..cataract regardless and likely worse if diet,
            Women in 30s, not children, men, do produce some dhea from other parts of the body or convert to it from other hormones so get by with some weight gain, So got dhea supplementation, finally pushed the last of 13 GP and specialists to send me to an an allergy asthma specialist who had asthma, believed me, gave me Intal preventer which has been used without side effects for 35 years, and I started recovery,

            I had been at point of taking a puff of seratide, needing it again that evening then more asthmatic next morning, getting worse and worse. My neighbour’s women in their 60s were on the drug twice a day for six years, knees gone, back gone, then brain tumour, death.
            Doctors get emotional at any criticism of seratide,. They push it. GLaxoSmithKline paid billions in fines in USA for bribing 44,000 USA doctors to prescribe it, There is no known “medical “cure for the damage caused. Google does not publish this,
            I have physiology and biochem, yet until I knew from DDG that the drug was a cortisol mimic I got nowhere, The drug companies know. I knew to get DHEA supplement once I knew. but never heard of a doctor supplementing alongside the drug.
            I went to the Australian Menopause Centre to get a script, it’s over the counter in USA fir a few dollars. AMC is constantly hassled, my GP once I told her they gave me progesterone which goes into the metabolic hormone pathways and is likely is reason I don’t have osteoporosis or am dead, she put in a complaint to the AMA, got excited, angry, what are they, are they doctors etc. They have no right etc. And yet again an enquiry was initiated into that medical group who are ethical beyond any doctor I have otherwise had dealings with.

            That’s basically it. I have excellent genes, retained my immunity and am healing. I wish I had had DDG 14 years ago.I would not be 71 kg. and been certain of living well looking good beyond 100. And I would still be happy.

  2. It will also deliver innovation. It would be a brave move from both sides. If Australia was able to innovate and get through it then other countries may follow our lead and weaken Google’s hand in future negotiations.

    • Yeah defnitely. I’m sure someone will happily invest billions of dollars developing the infrastructure needed to replace what google provides locally knowing that it will all be crushed the moment that google and the govt kiss and make up.

      • What is Goggle providing that is so special and unique to them?
        Any monopoly creeping up to every crevice of society in every aspect is not healthy.

        “Google is Australian business”
        Yeah… they pay taxes in AUS commensurate with the money they extract from AUS?

        • Rubbish. Google is Not AUS business. It intends with Facebook and PayPal and Twitter to replace banks as providers of digital services to the masses built back better. Stopping Google encouraging use of alternates is a BIG protective move for AUS.

      • The Fall. Google is obviously hard to beat but as the saying goes necessity is the mother of invention.

        • Its a bit like the China argument, we seem to be very reliant on a single company (Google) – for every other companies existence… it may be just me, but isn’t that a very dangerous position to be in????

          If Google pulls out, I will personally set up an internet platform in which every company in Australia can list their wares for free,

    • Have a look at DuckDuckGo, Wolfram Alpha, Search encrypt, Startpage and bing. There are healthy alternatives to goog. And alts to safari, Firefox etc like Brave. No need to flounder in dependence.

      • What’s wrong with FF? It blocks MB’s endless ads (I am a sub by the way) and is useful for blocking all ads on mobile/desktop.

        Brave I find sucks lots of battery on iOS

  3. Isn’t Australian media just as reliant on Google allowing people to find their content as much (if not more) as Google gets from providing said content on demand? It seems a two way street to me, or am I missing something here?

    • “..reliant on Google allowing people to find their content…”

      “…reliant on Search engine allowing people to find their content…”

      Goggle may be better at some things than its competitors but it comes with a hook in that bait. Igt is a give and take.
      It is baffling that some blog writers are willing to push this nation to the war where best youth will die to achieve some form of discussable “freedom” and yet will jut give-in to wealth extraction tool and government threatening business from out supposed friends’.
      Goggle should pay taxes commensurate to wealth they extract from AUS (they produce none wealth anyway) and our government should not balk in under pressure from private entities. The moment Goggle issued an ultimatum, they shat where they eat (if .gov.au has any spine, that is).

      • Your right with your point except that this has nothing to do with Google paying taxes. This is about the old guard media organisations using government to extract money from the companies they cant compete with.

        If they can get away with this the reach will be huge. No tech company will want to invest much in Australia when its clear the government can and will impose tariffs on them to help support their competition.

        You have to look past the ‘they dont pay taxes’ angle as this has nothing to do with their tax avoidance.

        To break it down into simple terms.
        1) News limited and Nine Stuggle to make a profit and have regularly been propped up by government grants
        2) The LNP rely on the news media to produce their propaganda, without them ‘interpreting’ the policies of the parties each day people will start to talk to each other and who knows what ‘lies’ may be spread. Even worse, they may read the actual policies….
        3) Google and Facebook dont interpret the news, they just direct people to the news items. They make money off doing this and already pay the news media companies for the advertising revenue it generates.
        4) This revenue stream has been slowly declining over time as people are no longer following the links to read the news.
        5) The pretense of the proposal is that Google and facebook are giving people the substance of the news item and they no longer need to go to the site, robbing the site of revenue.
        6) The reality is that people dont go to the site because they no longer trust the news items in greater numbers every day and have all started to become more and more savvy about online advertising.
        7) the proposal also includes forcing Google and Facebook to give the media companies access to their proprietary algorithms in order to give them the ability to game their search results.

        so… Government needs the media as a propaganda arm in order to stay relevant, Ability of the Propaganda arm is weakening every day, so threaten the new players with sanctions to help prop up failing propaganda arm….

        • No tech company will want to invest much in Australia when its clear the government can and will impose tariffs on them to help support their competition.
          Absolute BS. Many companies will happily chose to compete in situations where govt imposes all kinds of things to support competition.

          • Yeah, if this was to support competition then maybe, but this is about proping up a failed business model by taxing ALL players in another business model.

            This does not apply to just google and faceplant…

            The code of conduct even opens up competitors in the media market to having to pay the established old guard for news…. Even if you produced the story yourself as you would have to be able to prove you did…

            Any organisation providing news could be asked by the bigger players to pay up for access, when they say go away, they get sent to arbitration. Not a court where the both parties get to present their case and the accuser has to prove anything.

            All they would need to say is ” well you have consistently had news article that tell the same or similar news to us. You don’t have the resources to produce that content so you must be getting it from us.

            It’s all just nuts.

          • Minor search engines if Google comes out would see it as an opportunity since it could provide them a ‘safe haven’ from google’s monopolistic dominance and give them a market where it may be even feasible to start.

    • Not for all of us, I avoid Google, I use duckduckgo to actually find what I WANT not what goog wants .

  4. kierans777MEMBER

    From the moment I read the draft News & Media Bargaining code I could see that the code was not about fairness, but about entrenching the existing power of News Corp, Channel Costello and the existing pro Liberal MSM.

    I have no problem with publishers being paid for content. But this code really isn’t about that.

    • +1 Thank goodness someone said that. I don’t know how these dweebs live with themselves pandering to their masters at Newscorp. Quite the contrary. They are all chest puffers.

      • But if you pander you have a job for life 🙁

        Exhibit 1. Joel Fitzgibbon’s current pro-coal posturing. It is about getting a gig with Murdism.

    • FUDINTHENUDMEMBER

      +1 Anything that fcks Murdoch is good for this country. I’m not sure what blast radius i’d be comfortable with as collatteral damage in case of nuclear strike on Murdoch offices but i’d set it at WIDE.

  5. Google just made a deal with the French press, I m sure they will not walk away from $4.5B

    Some of the press demands are ridiculous ( algo/data acces)

  6. Display NameMEMBER

    Sadly it probably affects small business more than anything else. If not I would recommend a running jump.

  7. Ronin8317MEMBER

    If Google pull out, the ‘gap’ will be filled up by another search engine within a week.

    • Not the tech which is licensed into businesses and public orgs;nor the ad platform nor the partnerships and other networks. A quick recovery is not possible.

    • Display NameMEMBER

      The search function is neither here or there, Duck Duck go is fine. Its the advertising that much small business is tied to that is much harder to replace.

      • The advertising dollars would flow to where the users go. There’d end up being very little disruption in that aspect.
        Almost every single Google Ads provider also sells ads into Microsoft Bing Ads for instance, if users flowed from Google to Bing there would be very little disruption and agencies could roll over such ads in as little as 24 hours, but getting across their full range of accounts within a week.
        For Small Businesses self-managing Google Ads it is around a 5 click process to import all their search campaigns into Bing Ads as it is. For any agency it is dead simple.

        • Google has 95% of the search traffic, Bing has been trying to break into this market for years and so far has failed. DuckDuckGo has almost as much reach.

          The problem with pulling out of Australia means they will also pull out of indexing Australian content. Which in turn makes us almost invisible to the rest of the world.

          As for Microsoft or any other company replacing the void, they wont because they are already part of the proposal, they just dont get enough attention. Anyone setting up an organisation to replace them will be subject to the same issue. And as the proposal allows the media companies to determine the prices charged, Murdoch will request enough revenue from them to keep them broke.

          • Goggle has no reason to stop indexing anything local other than out of spite or power display to. Goggle can still provide direct links to searches of local stuff and bypass the pay rule if they want, the way I understand it is that pay rule comes when they republish the news intheir own feed.
            The rule should be the same for all, perhaps only introduce scalable rates based on the published traffic by each search provider (to level the play field).

            95% of market is not because the quality was on par with market share, it is because goggle came with every phone built in and integrated in a very similar fashion as IE used to be with Win98 onwards. There are active obstacles from drifting away and impossibility to remove Goggle service from one’s phone.

          • Rubbish, the proposal actually has provisions to force them to keep linking the news. If they maintain any operation in Australia they can be forced to pay.

            As for Google having that market share, they have that because they have a superior product, they have had since the day they started indexing the web. I have used every single search engine since Alta Vista and nothing has the depth or functionality that Google has.

            Bing is rubbish, it’s gotten better but still produces search results that make no sense and misses out on heaps of results google gets.

            You remember Microsoft? The company that enjoys over 80% of the desktop operating system market? Despite them continually pushing Bing over any other search engine…. Based on your theory they should be dominating the market, or at least have close to 50%… I wonder why that is?

          • 95% of market is not because the quality was on par with market share, it is because goggle came with every phone built in and integrated in a very similar fashion as IE used to be with Win98 onwards. There are active obstacles from drifting away and impossibility to remove Goggle service from one’s phone.

            Google dominated search engine marketshare for years (from the mid-2000s) before Android phones were a substantial part of the smartphone landscape (from 2010-onwards).

          • Ur comment is awting modertion.
            @ kanniget

            “As for Goggle having that market share, they have that because they have a superior product,”
            Indeed, where the requirement is confirmation bias pumping and search bubbles within [email protected] approved narratives and viewpoints. Saying that, “G” can be played to provide excellent results contrary to their “pay to be at the top of the list”. Common Mick or Joe will not have a clue how or why.
            Bigger problem i that they have a finger in every pie, not by any market forces.

            “I have used every single search engine since Alta Vista and nothing has the depth or functionality that “G” has”
            Just _your_ experience mate.

            “Based on your theory they should be dominating the market, or at least have close to 50%… I wonder why that is?”
            Have you ever used Windows 95 or 98?
            Have you learned of computers with Vista or Win8. Before that, IExplorer was the 99.99% of the browsers until a divorce and de-integration was ordered.

          • As for Goggle having that market share, they have that because they have a superior product,” Indeed, where the requirement is confirmation bias pumping and search bubbles within [email protected] approved narratives and viewpoints. Saying that, “G” can be played to provide excellent results contrary to their “pay to be at the top of the list”. Common Mick or Joe will not have a clue how or why. Bigger problem i that they have a finger in every pie, not by any market forces.

            If you can’t work out the difference between their paid advertising at the top of the search then no wonder you get the impression of confirmation bias….

            “I have used every single search engine since Alta Vista and nothing has the depth or functionality that “G” has” Just _your_ experience mate.

            So, are you admitting you don’t know how to use their search engine for anything targeted?
            If the results are so bad why do you use it?

            “Based on your theory they should be dominating the market, or at least have close to 50%… I wonder why that is?” Have you ever used Windows 95 or 98? Have you learned of computers with Vista or Win8. Before that, IExplorer was the 99.99% of the browsers until a divorce and de-integration was ordered.

            Not only did they not ever reach 60% browser usage that’s a complete misrepresentation of what actually happened.
            They were told to seperate the browser from the OS because they kept hijacking usage. If you ever saved a URL in a document, email etc even if you had Mozilla installed it would still open in internet explorer. And yet despite this approach they never reach total domination because I E was really bad and the majority of savvy people used something else.

          • “Google dominated search engine marketshare for years (from the mid-2000s) before Android phones were a substantial part of the smartphone landscape (from 2010-onwards).”

            What I said is not how “G” came to prominence by why it stayed there and made sure no one can climb up.
            See this video on YT nad see the transformation between the page visits between YHoo and “G” at the beginning of the 2010 with Android becoming mainstream (YH and GGL pretty much the last two major search web-pages)
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MirrGCbsIp4?t=308
            It dwarfs even non-search related pages, like YTB and FBK

          • If you can’t work out the difference between their paid advertising at the top of the search then no wonder you get the impression of confirmation bias….
            > Nice strawman, but a big miss.
            I’ll tell you a little secret, it is possible to buy ranking in search result list. possibility is 100%.
            > another one is that G will not yield the same results to two computers even if both are yours only. ever wondered why?
            ….
            So, are you admitting you don’t know how to use their search engine for anything targeted?
            If the results are so bad why do you use it?
            > I never said G’s results are unusable, every search is incomplete if all the options are not exhausted. That includes PC and approved narrative search engines. Google Sleepy Joe and see how much you yield from G. G can be gamed to provide results contrary to their search bubbling but you’d need to know how.
            I also said that your personal experience is your experience, not a fact.
            ….
            They were told to seperate the browser from the OS because they kept hijacking usage.
            > Just a fraction of all the facts.
            It was integration into windows that unduly made it have benefits in excess of the browser alone which played major role in resource deficient machines of the era (at one stage there was a benchmark of outlook and word loading up – nowaday trivial performance indicators).

          • See this video on YT nad see the transformation between the page visits between YHoo and “G” at the beginning of the 2010 with Android becoming mainstream (YH and GGL pretty much the last two major search web-pages)

            Android (smartphones/tablets in general) wasn’t a big enough presence in 2010 to shift the dial that much. They didn’t become a majority of internet traffic until around the the mid-late-2010s.

          • Not only did they not ever reach 60% browser usage that’s a complete misrepresentation of what actually happened.

            IE hit something like 90% (maybe even 95%?) marketshare at peak, and was utterly dominant (eg: 75%+ marketshare) for the better part of ten years starting 1999ish.

            For most of this period it was the better browser (IE4 possibly a matter of opinion, but not IE5 & IE6), or no worse than alternatives (ie: not worth changing away from). In the mid-late ’90s (1997? 98? memory is hazy) Netscape dropped the ball badly with Navigator 4 (a buggy and slow monster) and never really recovered, and nothing really rose to seriously challenge until Firefox in the early-mid-2000s (popularising tabs) and then later Chrome.

            The antitrust suit was about a) bundling IE into Windows b) making IE a shared component that could be leveraged by other applications and most importantly c) making it hard for alternatives to do anything similar both at the standalone application and API layers.

            Of course, nearly every OS since has (eventually) done the same thing Microsoft did integrating IE into Windows 98+ – KDE brought it to Linux/*nix in the early 2000s, then Apple leveraged that OSS code and put Safari into OSX in the mid-2000s). It was a natural evolution once the future importance of the web was clear. Ultimately it was (c) that got Microsoft into trouble, along with some fairly dodgy shennanigans in court.

          • If you can’t work out the difference between their paid advertising at the top of the search then no wonder you get the impression of confirmation bias….
            > Nice strawman, but a big miss.
            I’ll tell you a little secret, it is possible to buy ranking in search result list. possibility is 100%.
            > another one is that G will not yield the same results to two computers even if both are yours only. ever wondered why?

            Sure, you can pay someone to optimise your search result ranking, your not paying google and all they are doing is aligning your content with the way google indexes and prioritises results so that you get to the top of the search for specific keywords. SEO has been around since before google and many of the SEO organisations play competitors off against each other to get repeat business.

            As for not yielding the same results, I dont know what you search for but I just checked 3 computers, 1 Linux based and 2 windows10. Searched for “Does DuckDuckGo use Google”, I got the exactly the same results, the first three entries linked to websites that promote DuckDuckGo because google doesnt respect your privacy…. if they were going to game the results I would expect it would show up there…

            So, are you admitting you don’t know how to use their search engine for anything targeted?
            If the results are so bad why do you use it?
            > I never said G’s results are unusable, every search is incomplete if all the options are not exhausted. That includes PC and approved narrative search engines. Google Sleepy Joe and see how much you yield from G. G can be gamed to provide results contrary to their search bubbling but you’d need to know how.
            I also said that your personal experience is your experience, not a fact.

            Ironically, your personal experience is just that, an experience and not a fact….

            As I thought there must be something amazing that google was hiding I searched Sleepy Joe on google and duckduckgo….

            Nothing majorly different in the results, Admittedly I had to get to the second page to see entries about why “Sleepy joe can no longer be used” but for the most part it doesn’t appear too different, with the exception that duckduckgo referenced the ‘hermans hermits’ song and google pushed up some sound cloud song. Major conspiracy stuff…

            They were told to seperate the browser from the OS because they kept hijacking usage.
            > Just a fraction of all the facts.
            It was integration into windows that unduly made it have benefits in excess of the browser alone which played major role in resource deficient machines of the era (at one stage there was a benchmark of outlook and word loading up – nowaday trivial performance indicators).

            if your referring to opening a web page from Outlook and word when talking loading times then yes, it was because they both pre loaded internet explorer to gain an advantage, but its irrelevant as they are not part of the OS.
            The Integration into the OS consisted of a series of OS level calls to open a URL, ironically one of the biggest sources of security exploits at the time. The OS preLoaded i.e. via a DLL call so that it would bounce to life quickly, giving the impression it was faster. There was also evidence that MS was throttling CPU available to competing browsers, but this was never conclusively proven one way or another.

            Not only did they not ever reach 60% browser usage that’s a complete misrepresentation of what actually happened.

            IE hit something like 90% (maybe even 95%?) marketshare at peak, and was utterly dominant (eg: 75%+ marketshare) for the better part of ten years starting 1999ish.

            For most of this period it was the better browser (IE4 possibly a matter of opinion, but not IE5 & IE6), or no worse than alternatives (ie: not worth changing away from). In the mid-late ’90s (1997? 98? memory is hazy) Netscape dropped the ball badly with Navigator 4 (a buggy and slow monster) and never really recovered, and nothing really rose to seriously challenge until Firefox in the early-mid-2000s (popularising tabs) and then later Chrome.

            I dont know where you get the impression IE had 90% share, the figures are hazy due to user agent manipulation, We used to “clean” the user agent string on all web requests going through our proxy server farm among other headers to help protect the users identities and help with reliability. We pushed 60Million request a day through our system. All the organisation desktops were loaded with netscape ( and yes, I will give you that it was bloated and buggy ), Funny thing we noticed, when you tell some websites your using a different browser to IE they would tell you they were incompatible, but if you told the server it was IE it would load fine on alternative browsers… This was not an uncommon technique, I worked with a lot of the Sydney based ISP’s and they all had little tricks like this, some only doing this for some sites like smh.com.au other for a much wider range.

            Another interesting thing was that web pages loaded faster through MS Proxy when you told it the browser was IE…. We only used them briefly due to this, changed back to squid and masked them so Microsoft sales guys would not realise and go to the minister and complain we were not using their products, yes this sort of thing happened enough to warrant the 10 minutes it took to swap out the squid error pages with the MSProxy ones….

            Take a stroll through the data here… looks like IE dominated but there are some interesting things about the data… Usage share of browsers I will concede that the reported statistics they list on that page do indicate over 90% share but there are many reasons I say they are not accurate as reported, even the wiki page outlines some of the reasons its disputed.

            As for IE being the better browser, it was better supported by the web server content, which is why we masked the usage of non IE browsers, but it was not faster, it was not more reliable and frankly was freaking insecure.

            The antitrust suit was about a) bundling IE into Windows b) making IE a shared component that could be leveraged by other applications and most importantly c) making it hard for alternatives to do anything similar both at the standalone application and API layers.

            Sure, that was the spearhead of the anti trust suit, bit it was actually more about their anti competitive practices and how they leveraged success in one area to gain market dominance in another . Unfortunately to the great unwashed it was only about the browser and the process never went any further once MS conceded the IE thing. It was like the Al Capone, went to jail for tax evasion because it was too hard to prove the boot legging… Easy to hit MS for the IE shenanigans as it was relatively out in the open but the real issues were in how they manipulated the users on lots of parts of their system.

            Of course, nearly every OS since has (eventually) done the same thing Microsoft did integrating IE into Windows 98+ – KDE brought it to Linux/*nix in the early 2000s, then Apple leveraged that OSS code and put Safari into OSX in the mid-2000s). It was a natural evolution once the future importance of the web was clear. Ultimately it was (c) that got Microsoft into trouble, along with some fairly dodgy shennanigans in court.

            The integration of browsers into the OS is fine, using the OS to play shenanigans with alternative browsers is not. The KDE browser integration was only tied to the parts of the desktop that used HTML for rendering information, if you wanted to go to the internet and surf, you could still open up you favourite browser and go for it. if you told the KDE environment that firefox was your default browser, it would launch that without telling you the wonderful benefits of IE…. The only parts that continued to use the in built renderer was the help pages system.

            I cant speak for OSX, only used it on and off, and never dug into it.

  8. The Sling Shot says break it.

    Google is threatening a nuclear option to pull out the entire engine when it would seem easier to just block Australian news on the search engine.

    Fine, gives some other companies the opportunity to innovate – start a new search engine that promises a cut of ad revenues to the media and other content providers. This could actually be a real business, unlike say the still money losing innovation of buy now pay sometime in the future …

    • Yeah, the nuclear option would be gutsy play from Google. While there might be short term pain in Aust, if a viable alternative is found it weakens Google’s position in every other market on the planet. Stickiness of customer base is such a massive part of any business – not many entitles would risk that in a fit of pique.

    • Poochie the Rockin DogMEMBER

      My understanding is that the laws prevent them blocking news results – if they want to have search they are unable to block news & have to pay the news publishers, that’s why the laws are unreasonable.

      • … which is solved by a simple line in the search results that states that news media originating in AUS is not part of the search due to laws.

        Goggle wants to show who’s the boss.
        It is a HUUUGGGGEEE bluf and I can only wish .gov.au keeps those balls and spine until the end.
        We are tough that shirt-front China is a act and duty of freedom and sovereignty and yet asked now to give in to a private entity threats to our laws.
        Goggle is not an AUS business, it does not pay taxes commensurate with wealth extraction from here and it does not add to anything that dozen other competitors cannot.

  9. Did Josh and SFM look at Ebay’s 10% selling fees, or their horrendous customer service? Did Josh and SFM show any concern that Paypal charge about 5% on a currency exchange plus plus plus fees? Did they look into Ebay charging us greater than the 10% GST on imports? Did they look at Samsung charging a service fee on warranties?

    Did they do anything for the benefit of Australian consumers?

    Did Joshy and SFM show oneFK about anything but themselves and their donors?

  10. “Google is Australian business. Any pull-out will deliver instantaneous recession.”

    I run a Google Ads business selling Google Advertising to Australian businesses, so I should know what impact such a change will have.. and your assertion is completely baseless and off-track.

    INSTANTLY the search dollars sent to Google would follow the “clicks” to substitute services – i.e. the search engines that Australians would switch their searches to, such as Microsoft Bing Ads.

    It’s like saying if McDonalds disappeared the take away market would collapse.. no it wouldn’t, because there are many EQUIVALENT competing businesses that would step in immediately to pick up that slack (hey it would be great for Hungry Jacks..), even more possible in the digital space than physical.

    In fact the exit of Google would prove a massive boost for the Australian economy if a local search engine was established in its place, and gained similar popularity.. that would mean ~$4b staying in the Australian economy annually, rather than leaving.

    • Display NameMEMBER

      Advert spend might go to companies that pay tax? What a thought, could be a net positive.

    • Are you suggesting that the return value of each advertisement placement was equal on all the different search engines, considering number of search results that each get?

    • Exactly. The only reason Google is the big name is because of “network effects” – most people see search as synonymous with “googling”. Change that, or force them to look for alternatives and they will. They want to make a stand because their market power is training us to “google” for things always first; and be the first point into the internet. They are an advertising company, our economy would not go into recession just because an ad platform pulls out. Encouraging us to look for alternatives counters that.

      IMO these tech companies don’t really add too much to our lives anyway other than some conveniences. They get paid extremely well what really is just an information aggregator service – too much in proportion to the value they accrue to society IMO.

  11. Google’s supposed threat to democracy.

    When these mega-companies basically become world-wide (ex you know where),mega-monopolies, they are actually a threat to everything.

  12. Think its all bluff – unless Google are trying to make an example of Australia so other countries don’t try the same. They make shed loads on the advertising.

  13. Will it affect other goolge stuff like maps and their g-suite? If it is just the search engine then I can’t see it being an existential threat, apart form users having to adjust their reflex of searching on google. Duck Duck Go offers similar results and Maps is a quick way to find what is about in a vicinity, with user reviews to boot.

    I’d be interested to hear how the removal of google from our region affects how people advertise. Any adwords gurus out there care to chime in?

  14. GunnamattaMEMBER

    Any pull-out will deliver instantaneous recession.

    On the one hand I completely agree….

    On the other it is now quite obviously within the power of a private company interested primarily in people and shareholders somewhere else which has the capacity to deliver this to a nation – and that is one hell of a threat. And it is in Google’s interests to make Australia feel the pain as an example for any like minded nations.

    At the end of the day Google knows that some form of regulation is coming – even in the US. Their actions vis Australia are about shaping that discussion too, and they’ll be backed by Facebook.

  15. The media code isn’t at all about fairness. It’s a bloody con job, it entrenches the current media

    Anyone who is championing for google to leave and their will be a revolution for a reset has no idea. Australia is a tech backwater lol, and the near me google searches are lost forever. So much for the champions of small business lmao.

    • All technology comes with costs and benefits. Most of the benefits of any new trend (in this case technology) usually accrue to the early adopters; or rather the gains in the “technology progression” trend for the average joe have largely been realised. Google is the perfect example – I don’t see “Google” as really fancy tech tbh; the car, even my washing machine add more to my quality of life than Google ever will, and they make a lot less money doing it.

      I’m starting to appreciate the “backwater” Australia is in tech – it comes with other things like a “work to live” rather than “live to work” culture and the lack of hyper competitiveness/individualism/burn out that tech cultures are famous for. There are a lot of costs to technology that people, particularly the young, just don’t see until they get a little wiser. I just wish we Australian’s embraced our unique strengths instead of thinking we need to mirror “Silicon Valley”. All the people who migrate to Australia sure as hell don’t migrate for that; they always mention lifestyle and the “simple life”. The tech culture potentially would cut into one of our biggest competitive advantages – our simple life style. Something that the American’s looking at all the IT news aggregators often can only dream of.

      In this case I can search and use their maps program, at the cost of them having the power to dictate local policy, and having monopolistic hold on the advertising market amongst other things. Not sure its really worth it tbh.

    • bolstroodMEMBER

      Any “Code of Conduct” devised by the LNP is not going to work.
      It’s not meant to.
      They can’t even abide by the Ministerial Code of Conduct.
      Corrupt to the Core.
      Morrison,s ante-cedents arrived on the 1st. Fleet, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

    • I think Aus would be better off without Murdoch (as long as other free-ish press moves into the gap), but Google pulling out will hurt actual utility for many businesses – I will confess I’m actually a little nervous about it, and I don’g get nervous about a lot.

  16. They are a monopoly. Regulate them as one. i.e. regulatory accounts with a rate of return on capital employed and a limit on certain expenditures (most notably license fees to offshore affiliates). [This would have the additional benefit of increasing tax receipts.] Given USA is itself pursuing an anti-trust case against Google it would be absurd for USA to argue that Australia couldn’t do the same thing.

    • Australia has tended to try to break monopolies to bring in competition, e.g. electricity market, and this tends to leave a duopoly or 2 plus smalls. Banking is the exception but mergers were stopped in Keating era laws. Australia could do the same with search and social media but would need to be careful about who is brought in as the duopolist. In respect of the US free trade agreement … well ever since that was signed our trade imbalance to the US has increased every year. We have tolerated it as a price of our security agreements but we don’t have to. We are not here to be meekly plundered without our consent and without something for us.

      • Are Australias duopolies better than a straight monoploy? I cant see how they are. At least if there was a straight monopoly there would be regulation and proper supervision, instead a charade plays out daily that there is competition. Particularly in banking, groceries, electricity, on and on. Many are subtle variations of real estate plays.

      • We need a graduated tax scale to tackle monopolies.
        Normal tax for companies that supply a small % of the market.
        High tax for companies that supply a high % of the market.
        Huge tax for companies that supply a huge % of the market.

        You read it here.

  17. Poochie the Rockin DogMEMBER

    I am curious on how this will go now – I doubt Google are bluffing about leaving & the proposed laws are so moronic that they’d be right to do so. I can’t see scomo and the stupid libs backing down ‘we don’t respond to threats’ – so I think the laws will pass, Google will block Australian traffic & within 2 weeks the local outcry will see the laws reversed

    • Within 2 weeks people will ask “goggle… .what was that?”
      SO many search engines rose to the top and then became replaced that most millennials will not even know they existed.
      All this is akin to Goggle threatening Huawei and chinks fone manufacturer a ban on Android… they backed off and tucked in their tail the moment they saw competition was cracking the fat at the opportunity to enter some small freedom of market.

  18. Convex Buccaneer

    Seems like this is a murdoch relief bill, brought to you by murdoch lobbying co.
    A lifeline to bail out legacy media at cost to independent news sites.
    Google and all other search engines will be legally obliged to show links to approved news sites, and they have to pay for those links. If you are independent news you get nothing – bill stipulates that “verified news” only can be shown.
    It doesn’t help australia internet or press freedom one bit.

  19. Our gummint are imbeciles, their laws are stupid and the commercial news outfits and Google are both the spawn of Satan. Hopefully this shambles will result in pain for all three entities.

    • MountainGuinMEMBER

      Agree. While Murdoch and Google both have large shortcomings, if the law was properly drafted it could be workable for both parties and the rest of us.

  20. No fan of Google/Facebook, but I dont see how they are natural monopolies. Ddg search works just as well IMHO.

    In any case Washington even with Biden will retaliate over time, it is an attack on their companies and they happen to be large donors. Cause and effect seem to be reversed. Very few use facebook/google for the purpose of seeking Australian media content.

    If I was one of the big four with a NY banking license, lets say hypothetically who has been involved with laundering Chinese and foreign criminal cash that may have been used to harm Americans I would be tightening the old sphincter right about now. You thought the APRA fine was large …

    • Of course it is a monopoly. Tech often creates “winner takes all” monopolistic markets; and that’s well known in the industry. Google have a positive feedback loop that makes it almost impossible to compete with.

      Since they have the users, they get both business and users contributing to them data, which gives them “more relevant” search results and coverage, giving them more users and it repeats. The search algorithm in a way only gets you started – most of the work is done by the users and the publishers themselves using your platform, uploading places on maps, hiring people to do SEO, posting reviews, users clicking one link over another, etc. Google is just another “social network”; the users both use and help create the product.

      Google have the data and the history, and therefore have a big barrier to entry that’s hard to replicate for competitors. Google’s asset is its data, and the infrastructure to feed it. For users its a catch 22, other platforms aren’t as good because they have less users.

      There was a decent talk I watched with a key Silicon Valley figure being the presenter, how with tech companies the ones that are successful have built some kind of monopoly – and how often they want to pitch themselves as “tech companies” so that people see them as “competitive” to get better regulatory treatment. Google is first and foremost an advertising company looking at their P&L with a very large growing share of the world’s advertising sector. Only monopolies brag about being in competitive markets usually to get more sympathy and better treatment; actual competitive businesses never do and hope to one day escape that.

  21. Regarding the google search engine:
    At first it was excellent for all kinds of searches, bordering on magic.
    Recently it has become very crappy on certain searches because it shows me what some businesses have paid google to show me, instead of what I want to find.

    I have become very concerned about the near monopoly that google has on search. One response to this problem would be for govt to ban the google search in Australia on Sundays. This would force consumers to use google’s competition on Sunday, and would support such competition.

    • I actually don’t think that the search results have been anything special, how would you even measure it? So long as the obvious stuff is on the first page most people are happy.

      The key to google when they first came on the scene and people were using 33.6k modems was the page loaded super quick because there were no banner ads like altavista, yahoo etc. to download and you could browse off to whatever you were looking for.
      Its amazing how that tiny thing made them so entrenched in the market.

      • Google became entrenched because they provided relevant search results (without needing complex syntax), they were fast (and not just due to the bare entry page, getting results was quicker as well) and they indexed a huge number of pages. It was just a better product.

        I remember starting to use Google ca. 2000-2001 after Yahoo bought Altavista in the late ’90s and ruined it, and compared to AV with its complex syntaxes to refine results, Google was like magic.

  22. darkasthunderMEMBER

    That Crikey article is complete dribble. The assertion that Google search is anything other than a fungible commodity easily substituted by a range of other immediately-accessible providers is simply wrong both technically and commercially. Pffft!

  23. I ran an experiement today. Try searching google for “Biden transgender sport order” and then try the same thing in Yandex. Perhaps we need an Australian search engine after all.

  24. I think ScoMo believes Google is just a website and not an essential utility. Surely Australia is a pawn here for Newscorp to try to and set a precedent against the tech giants. Funny how Google FB are a competition risk requiring legislation but hey you can have concentrated media ownership of TV, radio, print etc and no questions asked.

  25. We should send Google packing – it would be the best thing to happen for Australia, and simultaneously send a strong message to all big tech.