Google has offered further concessions to address the European Commission's (EC) antitrust concerns, which could finally put an end to the ongoing case.
The EC said today that with its latest offer, Google has effectively settled the three year probe and has dodged a potential $5 billion fine. While the EC has accepted the concessions, they must first be accepted by the complainants, a list which includes Google's rival Microsoft.
In its latest proposal, Google said that it will display results from three competitors in a similar way whenever it promotes its own specialized search services.
This joins Google's previous concessions, which include giving content providers the option to opt-out of its specialized search services, removing exclusivity requirements in its agreements with publishers, and removing restrictions on the ability for competing search advertising services to run campaigns advertising their services.
Here are some screenshots showing the changes Google plans to make in Europe.
Google now on a search for [gas grill]:
What a Google search for [gas grill] will look like after concessions:
How will this affect local searches? Google now on a search for [cafe in paris]:
What a Google search for [cafe in paris] will look like after concessions:
"My mission is to protect competition to the benefit of consumers, not competitors," said European Commission VP in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia. "I believe that the new proposal obtained from Google after long and difficult talks can now address the Commission's concerns.
"Without preventing Google from improving its own services, it provides users with real choice between competing services presented in a comparable way; it is then up to them to choose the best alternative. This way, both Google and its rivals will be able and encouraged to innovate and improve their offerings. Turning this proposal into a legally binding obligation for Google would ensure that competitive conditions are both restored quickly and maintained over the next years."
Google said in a statement:
We will be making significant changes to the way Google operates in Europe. We have been working with the European Commission to address issues they raised and look forward to resolving this matter.
The EC said it will put forward Google's latest concessions to the complainants for scrutiny before the matter is officially settled.