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EU: Yelp takes aim at Google ahead of antitrust meeting

 |  February 28, 2016

Google’s CEO has been lampooned by Yelp’s public policy chief over a seven-year-old missive penned by Sundar Pichai, in which he told competition officials in Europe that browsers should be “powered by user choice.”

Pichai—who reportedly had his first meeting with Brussels’ competition chief Margrethe Vestager on Thursday—was Google’s vice president of product management when he wrote a February 2009 blog post, which criticised Microsoft’s then-dominance in Europe’s browser market.

Yelp’s Luther Lowe couldn’t resist sticking a well-timed boot in this week, however, by posting an altered version of Pichai’s gripes, complete with strikethroughs, to emphasise concerns about Google’s alleged abuse of dominance in European search, where the multinational commands more than 90 percent of the market.

“Seven years ago today [February 24, 2009], Sundar Pichai argued for the European Commission to usher in ‘more competition… greater innovation on the web and a better user experience for people everywhere’,” wrote Lowe, who posted the mischievous modified missive in Google Docs. “On the eve of Mr Pichai’s meeting with Commissioner Vestager, I draw inspiration from Mr Pichai, and write to echo his important and prescient message.”

The competition wing of the European Commission has been formally probing Google’s search business practices since late 2010. Yelp is among a list of 19 complainants in that case. In April last year, Vestager issued a Statement of Objections against the company, alleging that Google had systematically favoured its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages, above those of its rivals in that market.

Full content: Business Recorder

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