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Date:19/09/11

EU's Almunia says Google dominance case needs 'special care'

The European Commission's investigation into Google Inc.'s dominant market position requires close analysis and a rapid response given the ever-changing nature of the Internet search sector, the EU's antitrust chief said Friday.

"We have to bear in mind that the firm operates in a market that is changing at lightning speed," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said, according to the text of a speech delivered in Florence, Italy."This is a crucial aspect of our efforts to understand whether and to what extent the company holds an entrenched position."

Almunia added that the nature of Google's business, whereby advertising fees finance a service that users don't have to pay for, makes the investigation particularly sensitive.

"This aspect of Google's business is forcing us to take special care as we conduct our assessment of the relevant product and geographic markets," Almunia said."Another important issue in this case, for instance, is determining whether Google holds a position of gatekeeper and is able to influence the behavior of Internet users."

The commission late last year opened an investigation into Google, after Microsoft Corp. and as number of specialized Internet search firms complained about the U.S. company's dominance of online search and advertising.



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