Image: Google

The U.S. Department of Justice is planning to sue Google very soon for (allegedly) abusing its control over the search market. While antitrust suit preparations are still ongoing, state prosecutors are already mulling what parts of the company they’d like to break up if the courts rule in their favor, and according to a report from Politico, one of the biggest candidates is the Chrome browser.

With a market share of over 66 percent, Chrome seems like an obvious target for the Feds, but the DOJ and state attorneys general have reportedly been urged by numerous third parties (e.g., advertising technology experts, industry rivals, and media publishers) to single out the world’s most popular browser for disbandment.

One of the key factors is that Chrome is popular enough to set standards that could harm other businesses. These include third-party cookies, which Google is abolishing for privacy reasons – a noble gesture, but one that will damage the publishing industry.

“Google’s own estimates show that eliminating those cookies will reduce advertising revenue to news outlets that show online ads by as much as 62 percent,” Politico noted.

That’s less of an issue for Google, though, since it has plenty of other ways to gather user data.

“Google’s ad-based business model can prompt questions about whether the standards Google chooses to introduce are ultimately designed primarily to serve Google’s interests,” the House report said. “Market participants are concerned that while Google phases out third-party cookies needed by other digital advertising companies, Google can still rely on data collected throughout its ecosystem.”

As of September 2020, Google Chrome’s user base has grown to 66.3 percent based on statistics from Statcounter. Apple’s Safari trails far behind at 16.76 percent, while Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge are a relative blip at 4.08 percent and 2.61 percent, respectively.

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25 Comments

  1. Oops.
    This is the old thinking of antitrust though right?
    Doesn’t get anymore cheaper than free does it?
  2. Oops.
    This is the old thinking of antitrust though right?
    Doesn’t get anymore cheaper than free does it?

    It’s interesting that becoming a market leader with a search engine publishing their own browser that is minimalist to the extreme while gathering copious amounts of Metadata about the user that they use to target adds and better serve search results equals anti trust.

    I don’t understand how getting to the front of the market and sharing your platform rather openly is anti trust.

    I look forward to someone with a better legal mind digesting this information.

  3. It’s interesting that becoming a market leader with a search engine publishing their own browser that is minimalist to the extreme while gathering copious amounts of Metadata about the user that they use to target adds and better serve search results equals anti trust.

    I don’t understand how getting to the front of the market and sharing your platform rather openly is anti trust.

    I look forward to someone with a better legal mind digesting this information.

    I agree, to the extent that this is how we been doing antitrust measures for the last 40 years or more.

    Now if you want to talk about antitrust, and busting big companies for the main or sole reason being we as a people argue there is not enough players in a market and it should be more, then okay, but that is changing the rules in the middle of the game, and only for specific players ( Google).
    Stinks to high heaven to me.
    No I don’t love Google, and yes I do agree that markets sometimes should be fed the blood of large companies, but this should be done with proper reforms passed, and after that give the areas of concern in markets we as a people think should be rectified a notification and a chance to adhere or spin off or whatever.
    This… Just seems weird.

  4. Meh,

    I don’t really care about this. I would prefer it if they just banned the tracking and collection of data of users.

    Sure, this would be a big hit to the big internet companies, but they can survive on a more contextual advertising model.

    Hoarding information about people is just too high of a risk, and must be stopped.

  5. How is anything that is given away for free, a monopoly? I mean at least IE came with the OS, which someone paid money for somewhere along the supply chain.
  6. How is anything that is given away for free, a monopoly? I mean at least IE came with the OS, which someone paid money for somewhere along the supply chain.

    You are paying for it, you just don’t realize it. All your data that’s collected and advertisements, etc. You are the payout. It’s "free" but they are making money from it. If they were a non profit and weren’t raking in billions, maybe I’d accept your argument. I do agree though, it does make the argument more difficult when there is no exact value to put on it (Aka, how much more money do they make per person because of chrome).

  7. Oops.
    This is the old thinking of antitrust though right?
    Doesn’t get anymore cheaper than free does it?

    Antitrust is not about MSRP. It’s about having too much control. Eg: The same company controlling the browser market, that owns the search engine market. And by controlling the browser market they can use it to funnel consumers to their search engine without actual free market competition. As in the market of search engines is no longer free if google uses it’s browser penetration to further consolidate their search engine.

    And that is why I think the so called "free market" is an utopia, it never works, it’s not something we should strive for. The more free the market, the more ripe it is for consolidation of power, and the eradication of competition.

  8. Sure, this would be a big hit to the big internet companies, but they can survive on a more contextual advertising model.

    Small media company owner checking in here. The way it stands now, the individually targeted ads allow us to continue as a going concern. "Contextual" ads pay pennies on the dollar in comparison.

  9. So let’s say Google is forced to put Chrome on the open market. What valuation do they put on it to sell it? 100 billion? 200 billion? Where is the market value for it and separating it from Google infrastructure and environment?
  10. Small media company owner checking in here. The way it stands now, the individually targeted ads allow us to continue as a going concern. "Contextual" ads pay pennies on the dollar in comparison.

    I understand that they pay less, but there is a bit of a supply and demand thing going on here.

    Remember, back in the print days, completely untargeted newspaper ads paid more than any of the online ads do today (which is why the newspaper industry has been in so much trouble)

    If targeted ads based on tracking were to suddenly go away, contextual ads would be the best choice on the block, and would be in higher demand, and thus would also cost/pay more. Remember, the likes of HardOCP, Anandtech and Toms Hardware were able to do just fine in the era before unchecked corporate surveillance.

    In the end, they might not pay quite as much as the ultra targeted spy-ads, and I feel for the small media organizations, but not enough that I think it is a good idea to keep invasive spying for the sake of targeted ads.

    Big Brother must end, by any means necessary, even if that involves the pitchforks.

  11. I understand that they pay less, but there is a bit of a supply and demand thing going on here.

    Remember, back in the print days, completely untargeted newspaper ads paid more than any of the online ads do today (which is why the newspaper industry has been in so much trouble)

    That was because of market size alone. News papers are in trouble now because their readership has vanished.

    If targeted ads based on tracking were to suddenly go away, contextual ads would be the best choice on the block, and would be in higher demand, and thus would also cost/pay more. Remember, the likes of HardOCP, Anandtech and Toms Hardware were able to do just fine in the era before unchecked corporate surveillance.

    You don’t know much about the history of those sites. Tom Pabst sold to Birch well before targeted ads rose to dominate. Anand sold to a corporate conglomerate just as they did. They both sold because the time to cash out was on the wall as the revenue stream was getting tougher and tougher.

    In the end, they might not pay quite as much as the ultra targeted spy-ads, and I feel for the small media organizations, but not enough that I think it is a good idea to keep invasive spying for the sake of targeted ads.

    As we used to say, big X up there in corner can fix all of your problems.

  12. As we used to say, big X up there in corner can fix all of your problems.

    The problem is that the opt out strategy doesn’t work anymore.

    In th ebeginnig we were naive, and didn’t realize how much data collectionw as going on behind the scenes, now that we are aware it is completely impossible to opt out as it is in absolutely EVERYTHING. You can’t even buy a car or a TV today without having a product that is collecting data on you.

    The only thing that has an even remote chance of fixing our modern dystopia is a complete upheaval of the status quo in the form of regulation.

    An I firmly believe that if that were to happen, context-based ads would go from nothing to being the way to advertise again, and regain some if not most of their revenue capability. At least so I hope. I want sites to be able to earn a living, just not at the cost of everyones privacy.

  13. I understand that they pay less, but there is a bit of a supply and demand thing going on here.

    Remember, back in the print days, completely untargeted newspaper ads paid more than any of the online ads do today (which is why the newspaper industry has been in so much trouble)

    If targeted ads based on tracking were to suddenly go away, contextual ads would be the best choice on the block, and would be in higher demand, and thus would also cost/pay more. Remember, the likes of HardOCP, Anandtech and Toms Hardware were able to do just fine in the era before unchecked corporate surveillance.

    In the end, they might not pay quite as much as the ultra targeted spy-ads, and I feel for the small media organizations, but not enough that I think it is a good idea to keep invasive spying for the sake of targeted ads.

    Big Brother must end, by any means necessary, even if that involves the pitchforks.

    Yet, ad budgets have evolved and more or less require the marketing boffins at companies to best connect marketing spend to desired results (i.e. buying more kit, in our case). There’s also a huge shift in those budgets towards video as a preferred medium (hello, Reviewcast).

    Regardless, Chrome is pulling the plug on third party cookies in the next couple of years, much like the other browsers have already done. There’s some development of what will replace it by our ad network, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it lead towards continued movement over to video dollars.

  14. I highly doubt that google is going to consider their ad business as part of the google chrome business. I also suspect that they will divest mobile/android chrome from the desktop chrome as well before parting with it.

    For the android Chrome is built into the core pieces of the OS. Much like IE is built into the OS of windows.

  15. The problem is that the opt out strategy doesn’t work anymore.

    In th ebeginnig we were naive, and didn’t realize how much data collectionw as going on behind the scenes, now that we are aware it is completely impossible to opt out as it is in absolutely EVERYTHING. You can’t even buy a car or a TV today without having a product that is collecting data on you.

    The only thing that has an even remote chance of fixing our modern dystopia is a complete upheaval of the status quo in the form of regulation.

    An I firmly believe that if that were to happen, context-based ads would go from nothing to being the way to advertise again, and regain some if not most of their revenue capability. At least so I hope. I want sites to be able to earn a living, just not at the cost of everyones privacy.

    I just checked on the admin side, the X does still work.

  16. Yet, ad budgets have evolved and more or less require the marketing boffins at companies to best connect marketing spend to desired results (i.e. buying more kit, in our case). There’s also a huge shift in those budgets towards video as a preferred medium (hello, Reviewcast).

    Regardless, Chrome is pulling the plug on third party cookies in the next couple of years, much like the other browsers have already done. There’s some development of what will replace it by our ad network, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it lead towards continued movement over to video dollars.

    Interesting. I didn’t realize there was a shift away from third party cookies. I use Firefox and I know they have the option to mostly block them, but I just assumed that these were ineffective due to various workarounds. I have nothing to back that up though.

    I agree with your assessment. As much as I hate it (i refuse to view reviews in video format) if nothing changes more and more will shift towards video, but if there were an end to data collection and creating profiles on users, video should be hit just as much as non-video, and the resultant reviving of contextual ads may actually help non-video smaller sites. Who knows though. it is difficult to predict.

    I tend to like the direct payment model though. No, not paywalls, they are useless, and everyone hates them. I have most of my frequent sites which I would be disappointed if they went away in my Patreon (I’ve been considering adding this site, but haven’t gotten around to looking into it yet, and don’t know if you have one)

    Back in the 90’s or early 2000’s (can’t remember) there was talk of funding web comics with a shared wallet that pays a few pennies every time you visit a comic. I really like this model as it better reflects how people read news sites these days. Who wants to pay for a full subscription to a site/paper when they only click a link to an article every once and a while? A news site wallet (to minimize transaction fees) that subtracts a small per article fee for all enrolled sites would be a great system IMHO.

    I’m not anti site revenue. I want the sites I frequently visit to not just survive, but to thrive. I just feel there has to be a better way than intrusive spying.

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