The Indicator from Planet Money - The Case Against Google

A few days ago, The Department of Justice filed a massive antitrust lawsuit against Google. The case focuses on the company's dominance in search, but what about the rest of Google's empire?

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this week the justice department filed an antitrust suit against Google the case focuses on Google search business. Those sort of course is only one part of Google's vast Empire. There's Google. Google Maps Google Hangout Google Calendar YouTube Gmail Chrome Android Chromebooks Google Wallet ways and many many many more. It is amazing. How many parts of our Lives Google is involved in and that in fact is the topic of an essay by New York Times Tech reporter Brian Chen Brian facts still remembers the first time he used to Google about 20 years ago. I remember more than 20 years ago. One of the first searches I made was for DMV sample test cuz I was learning how to drive right and you know, I found out the results on Google a really good. They were more relevant. He got me where I want to be quicker than other search engines. So I stuck with Google from there on this is the indicator from Planet Money.

Stacey Vanek Smith today on the show Google the company is only about 20 years old. But in that short time, it has become Central to our lives. Bryanton joins us to talk about Google's history the lawsuit and what does control mean for the company?

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Brian Chen of the New York Times thank you so much for joining us. So Google is obviously a massive global company with hundreds of different products and services. But if you will walk us through some of the the big ones so the heart of the attic prestigious focusing on search, but I think what I was trying to convey with my essay was how much more Google's tentacles stretch to every corner of our lives right? There is there's Maps when you're looking for something like a bakery. It's you if you type in the bakery and search is going to load a Google map if you click on an article chances are it's loading an advertisement that is served by Google chances are it's also voting at a lytx that is run by Google for website designers to figure out what you're clicking on more than 80% of sides have some sort of Google tracker embedded on of course Google offers Android, which is the most widely used at operating system for Mobile in the world.

By default, they're going to have Google search as The prominent Search tool when you use these products and if you look at some of the Acquisitions that Google's made over the past decade or so. They acquired Nest which is the maker of this very popular thermostat and dogs tell you know there I am Google's in my home now, even if I didn't really intended for her to be dropped him to drop can back when it was a cool little start up and started out as a security camera, you could plug into your wall and connects your Wi-Fi and you would have your own personal security camera that you point anywhere to catch people, you know, trying to steal your package is on your porch. For example

That was one of the cooler product. I bought and yeah, so Nest acquired them and then Google require Nest. So it's what was that old song with like, I ate a fly and then go look at 12 to fly spider. She could put slide and then finally like she eats a horse and dies, of course basketball to escape Google and it wouldn't knows about you. I mean, this is the thing. I mean, I was reading your essay. I save all my photos all my e-mails we do Oliver work for the show in Google Docs. I do all my own rain in Google Docs. I use Google Maps for everything. I mean if Google Vonage tomorrow like

I mean it would be Beyond disrupted my life into my work. But okay, it's very clear that they're everywhere but you could just make the argument like listen like they just do a really good job, you know, I mean, what's the what's the problem? This is what the justice department in Google or going to be fighting over for years to come right? How much of this is consumer Choice vs. Consumers being forced into using these products. But if you look at the stool called my activity on your Google account, you can see all the different types of information through through the different types of products. They offer that they collect about you really, can I get there now, I have Google open my activity.

If you scroll through this, you're going to start seeing a view of the searches you made the things that you clicked on. It's going to show email.

Photo-real Roman Emperor projects hyperborean weekly horoscopes that's embarrassing for me at all. Home Improvement craft is mine are dishwasher racks interchangeable. I hate my dishwasher rack.

Is me looking at TripAdvisor stock? Cuz I wanted to see how it's screwed. TripAdvisor was during the pandemic remember doing all these things and you know, it's all here and you can set these things to Auto delete every 3 months or so, but a lot of people don't do that, you're just saying in technology that the devil's in the default right right director that's been filed about you. But yeah just going through this till you get an idea of how widely reaching Google has been beyond search and and how detailed is the history and how's about you now that I'm thoroughly terrified is the the meat of the lawsuit. What is the justice department complaining about specifically

The really simplifying this approach and just focusing mostly on search. Some people wish that they had gone farther, you know, like looking into some of the areas that we've talked about with the low hanging fruit search. They're saying, you know, because you cut these deals with companies like Apple phone carriers other device makers that make Android phones to to feature prominently Google search for so many years. It made it very difficult for others to compete if it's similar to the antitrust argument. That was brought against Microsoft one day. We're loading Internet Explorer on PCS at the default web browser the doj brought antitrust charges against Microsoft and accuse them of being as I competitive when it came to browser dominance.

They were able to argue that Microsoft, you know, did this in ways that made it impossible for other browsers to come on the market if you were looking would happen if Microsoft like look at where Microsoft is now if they really were distracted by that lawsuit, they're not really, you know, one of the dominant tech companies anymore be on windows. They're not really the cool kid on the Block anymore. Right? Do you think the lawsuit partly responsible for that people argue that the lawsuit distracted them and also made them where gun shy when it came to making really aggressive moves with the products that they offer and people, you know are speculating that this could really harm Google in that it could be distracting for them and also make them less aggressive with, you know their expansion into different spaces in the future.

But now it's time to say that anything's going to change because at the end of the day Google has the most money when it comes to making these bids they did pay more than I think it was eight billion dollars a year did Apple to be the default search engine on Safari for the iPhone. So who else is going to come up with that amount of money, you know, like you're not you're not going to see DuckDuckGo this tiny little company pay Apple a billion dollars to feed a default search engine on the iPhone not happy with that because we're so used to using Google for for however, many years has been yeah ever since you first sample test for driver's ed 20 years ago you so much for talking with me so much.

This episode of the indicator was produced by Jamila Huxtable and fact-checked by Sean. Saldania. Our editor is Patty Hearst and the indicator is a production of NPR.
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