検索大手提携 グーグルの市場支配が心配だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 31, 2010)
Yahoo Japan-Google tie-up must be monitored
検索大手提携 グーグルの市場支配が心配だ(7月30日付・読売社説)

Internet search giant Google Inc. and Japan's top portal Yahoo Japan have agreed to form a search engine alliance and cooperate in online advertising and other services.

The partnership between Yahoo Japan and Google of the United States will mean the two companies will acquire a dominant 90 percent of the Internet search market in this country. This could reduce the options available to Internet users seeking a more diverse variety of online information. With this in mind, it is necessary to ensure that the alliance does not prevent the Internet market from growing further.

Ironically, while the Japanese portal, in which telecom operator SoftBank Corp. has a major stake, has joined hands with its rival Google, Yahoo Inc. of the United States is struggling to catch up with the world's largest search service provider through a tie-up with Microsoft Corp.

Yahoo Japan's move apparently reflects a decision that it has no choice but to adopt Google's cutting-edge technology if it wants to survive in the search market, the major battleground in the Internet business.

Under the agreement, Google will provide Yahoo Japan with a search engine and technology to display ads associated with the search results.

Will U.S. giant control market?

The search engine appends indexes to vast amounts of data on the Internet, with each piece of information ranked depending on keywords users type in, enabling them to select the data they need instantly. Use of search engines has taken firm root in our daily lives, as is evident by the fact that 50 million people use such Internet tools in this country every month.

Corporations strive to attract customers through the Internet by having their Web sites and ads displayed in the upper ranks of search results, so such information will be easily discerned by users.

However, the Google-Yahoo Japan alliance is problematic as the U.S. search giant could end up monopolizing the market in Japan.

Yahoo Japan has denied this, saying its services will include data and information distinct from that provided by the U.S. firm.
However, some people fear users may be unable to access the information they need because of Google's ability to control search results. Is there no reason to worry? There also is a concern that the Google-Yahoo Japan tie-up could lead to an increase in ad rates.

FTC sees no problem

The Fair Trade Commission has said the partnership between the two giants--both of which operate separately--does not pose a problem in relation to the Antimonopoly Law.

It should be noted, however, that the U.S. Justice Department put a stop to an attempt by Yahoo Inc. and Google to form a tie-up two years ago, saying their alliance would violate the U.S. antitrust law. In Europe, the regulatory authorities are reportedly keeping watch on Google to thwart any bid to control the market.

The FTC needs to keep a close eye on how the Google-Yahoo Japan alliance works out.

The Internet's remarkable development is the result of intense competition among start-up companies in providing a variety of services. This is also the case with Google, which has grown into a huge company providing excellent services through its innovative search engine technology.

Admittedly, access to online search engine services free of charge is great, but there is a danger of information being selected and ranked arbitrarily. Internet users should take this to heart.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 30, 2010)
(2010年7月30日01時27分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-07-31 05:21 | 英字新聞

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