Posts

Wisconsin’s Herb Kohl on Monopoly-Busting Google

This just in…
Herb Kohl’s office released this press release yesterday. Below are excerpts from his Opening Statement Of U.S. Senator Herb Kohl For The Of Hearing, “The Power Of Google: Serving Consumers Or Threatening Competition?”

Herb Kohls Senate Webpage image

“The basic premise of Google at its founding was that it would build an unbiased search engine — that consumers would see the most relevant search result first, and that the search results would not be influenced by the web page’s commercial relationship with Google. Its goal was to get the user off Google’s home page and on to the websites it lists as soon as possible. As Google’s co-founder and current CEO Larry Page said in 2004, “We want you to come to Google and quickly find what you want. Then we’re happy to send you to the other sites. In fact, that’s the point.”

However, as Internet search has become a major channel of e-commerce, Google has grown ever more dominant and powerful, and it appears its mission may have changed. For the last five years or so, Google has been on an acquisition binge, acquiring dozens of Internet-related businesses, culminating most recently with its proposed acquisitions of Motorola Mobility and Zagats. It now owns numerous Internet businesses, including in health, finance, travel, and product comparison. This has transformed Google from a mere search engine into a major Internet conglomerate. And these acquisitions raise a very fundamental question — is it possible for Google to be both an unbiased search engine and at the same time own a vast portfolio of web-based products and services? Does Google’s transformation create an inherent conflict of interest which threatens to stifle competition?

In the last few years, Internet businesses that compete with Google’s new products and services have complained that Google is now behaving in a way contrary to free and fair competition. They allege that Google is trying to leverage its dominance in Internet search into key areas of Internet commerce where it stands to capture from its competitors billions of dollars in advertising revenue. Rather than fairly presenting search results, these critics claim that Google has begun to subtlety bias its search results in favor of its own services. This conduct has the potential to substantially harm competition for commerce on the Internet, and retard innovation by companies that fear the market power of Google.

Antitrust scrutiny is not about picking winners and losers, but is about fostering a fully competitive environment so that consumers can fairly pick winners and losers. As more and more of our commerce moves to the Internet, it should be the highest priority of antitrust policymakers that the Internet remains a bastion of open and free competition as it has been since its founding. We need to protect the ability of the next Google to emerge, the next great website or application being developed in a garage in Silicon Valley or Madison, Wisconsin.”

I’m glad our legislators are looking into this subject. I’ve long thought that Google is the ‘new Walmart’, but I’ve been hesistant to say anything. (Google controls my SEO). As you know, I’m always on the side of small and medium-sized businesses. I think Mr. Kohl, once again, has taken the lead on a difficult, but timely subject. What do you think?

Scrooge Strikes e-Commerce Small Business

Is Network TV the Scrooge?
This Christmas season, it seems like every network TV news personality is reporting that online sales are booming. On Cyber-Monday, Becky Worley of Good Morning America said that online sales are up significantly this year. Technically, that’s true. That is, if you are Amazon, Walmart or Best Buy.

e-Commerce: Not for the Little GuyChristmas Cancelled for Small Business
Unfortunately, small to mid-size e-tailers have actually lost ground according to ComScore’s latest Cyber Monday report. Although, they reported a 12% overall increase in total consumer online spending, when you break it down the big box stores increased their sales 20%, while small-medium businesses experienced a 4% loss compared to 2009 spending.

Why do the Big Boys get the Attention?
Two reasons. One, the big boys can afford to lure shoppers with deep discounts and attention-grabbing promotions. In doing so, they grab market share from the online ‘mom & pops’, who thought the internet provided a new path to successful marketing. Two, network TV news keeps its focus on its customers: those big box stores who are their biggest advertisers this time of year.  ABC’s Becky Worley delivered her “news” report live from the floor of Amazon.com’s Phoenix distribution and shipping center.  Her story focused on Amazon’s deal of the day and other online retailers like Home Depot. If economic growth comes from small to medium-sized businesses, isn’t it time journalists paid more attention to them?

As Tiny Tim waits to see what’s in store for him this Christmas, remember small and medium-sized businesses are the ones that bring handcrafted, quality craftsmanship, made in America items to market. These are often gifts that last a lifetime.

Buy from someone ‘small’ today. There’s still time to shop!

Social Media- Room to grow

Here are some interesting facts about who is… and who isn’t using the Web. Do you think there is room to grow?

  • 40% of small businesses don’t have a web site
  • 81% of entrepreneurs still don’t take advantge of social media
  • 47% don’t think that Facebook, Twitter or even LinkedIn are beneficial to their business
  • 84% don’t provide for e-commerce
  • 62% don’t use email marketing

(Source: CBrogan via Citibank survey 2013.)