The FTC has launched an antitrust probe against Google's search practices. It will investigate if Google uses its search dominance to stifle competition in other markets.
Google has 85 percent of global and US search market share.
Due to the Internet gateway function of search engines, regulators fear that Google is abusing its position to steer exposure and attention to its own services at the expensive of rivals.
For example, the top results for the queries mail and finance return Google's own services (Gmail and Google Finance, respectively)*.
If Google is unfairly doing so, it's potentially shoving its own service in front of a superior competitor product. Moreover, what's Google policy for charging its online services for search advertising on Google? If it's done cheaply, that's another advantage Google products have.
On Bing/Yahoo, mail returns Yahoo! Mail as the first result and finance returns Yahoo! Finance as the first result.
So is Google manipulating its results?
There are a few possible explanations for the discrepancy between Bing/Yahoo and Google.
1) Google is manually manipulating its results. Or, it inserted something in its algorithm to favor all Google services (highly unlikely)
2) Google's superior search engine is simply returning its own superior products. Or, Bing/Yahoo is the one manipulating search results.
3) Google services are good at search engine optimization (SEO) on the Google search engine.
4) Google and Bing/Yahoo have different algorithms. It's a coincidence that Google returns Google products first and Bing/Yahoo return Yahoo Products first.
Google, on its part, maintains that it simply delivers the best and most relevant results to its users. It promised to cooperate with the FTC investigation.
Some are comparing the Google probe, potentially its widest one to date, to the one suffered by Microsoft about 10 years ago.
Although Microsoft technically 'won,' it had to battle the US government for a decade and contend with government supervision of its operations for years.
*All searches were done on IBTimes' computer in New York on Saturday, June 25.