Google, its Maps, and an Ominous French Court Ruling

on February 14 2012 9:34 AM

As Google continues to evolve rolling out new features across the web, they are asserting their dominate position. They also continue to expand their operations in international markets, and while doing so, are encountering challenges. They continually find themselves challenging existing structures and laws. Just recently, a commercial court in France found the company guilty of a complaint issuing a ruling that they are abusing its dominant position of Google Maps. The court ordered Google to pay €500,000 ($660,000) in damages and interest to a French mapping company as well as a €15,000 fine, upholding an unfair competition complaint for delivering online mapping to businesses for free. Google will appeal and issued a statement affirming their stance that that free mapping holds utility for both web users and websites, according to the Financial Times.

Once again, the internet and major players like Google are constantly entering uncharted territory that leaves the application of existing rules open for debate and the occasional court ruling. This brings up the issues that can result from operating in different markets throughout the world. Outside of language and cultural differences, institutional structures like the political and judicial systems a company finds themselves operating in couldn't be more important. This is especially important for technology companies because many of the existing rules of business operation and laws regarding information and privacy are being challenged in new ways as the internet evolves. This evolution is continuous as well, making more it difficult for established institutions to catch up. 

What Does it Mean For the Future?

The institutional systems, and by extension the cultures in which they were created and are now sustained in, is impacting Google Maps' existence and operation in France. The ruling and the eventual result of the appeal will have repercussions for Google Maps in France and potentially elsewhere. If this ruling holds, what does it mean for Google and Google Maps in France? A precedent could be set and future complaints could be brought against Google in the country potentially eroding Google Maps' functionality, which is potentially dangerous territory.

It is not likely, but if restrictions were put on Google Maps' service to internet users, map functionality could be reduced, which could preclude people from seeing the location of search results when doing local searches for businesses. This would not impact geo-targeted text results that do not utilize the showing of the maps in the results, however, which underlines the true failsafe of organic SEO and ppc management. This scenario is unlikely to unfold, but if any further changes to Google Maps or other platforms do occur, expert SEO firms have the means to adapt and generate the needed traffic that businesses rely on. This only reaffirms the growing need for SEO firms in an ever-changing internet-driven world.    

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