How Dependent Are You On Google?

Google-RedSlash-AGoogle influences the majority of metrics affecting business as more transactions go online. Not just ecommerce on desktops, smartphones or tablets, but the ability to find information online that eventually leads consumers to purchase in stores.

The anti-Google consortium, supported by Microsoft, and others, streamed a roundtable discussion Thursday focused on competition in search and online advertising. Entrepreneurs also pointed to instances where the Internet giant hurt small businesses, rather than helping them.

Some business owners allege that Google manipulates search algorithms for its own good, although data firm comScore estimates Google's search U.S. market share fell sequentially to 66.4% in August from 66.8%. Many search marketers know the reach of Google's ad network makes it attractive -- not just on desktop, but also mobile.

Entrepreneurs said others must become aware of how the interconnected services related to Android hamper innovation and how Google's control of the operating system (OS) upstream prevents competition downstream, although the company touts it as an open platform.

Mark Corallo, FairSearch spokesman and former director of public affairs at the U.S. Justice Department for Attorney General Ashcroft, and entrepreneurs like Tim Carter, a former home remodeler turned Internet publisher, who worked closely with Google for years, believe the company stifles innovation and competitiveness. Some business owners fear that if Google enters a market, even with an inferior product, the competing company will likely get bought or shut down.

The question 'how dependent are you on Google' will become a more common one asked by venture capitalists funding companies. Innovation -- which is crucial for competition -- will dwindle, according to some business owners.

Some entrepreneurs point to too many deals made by Google to preclude companies from participating in lucrative markets, such as mobile, where analysts like Global Equities Research Managing Director Trip Chowdhry estimate Google and Apple will share 98% of the mobile market. Nokia, Microsoft and Research In Motion will struggle for the remaining 2%, he wrote in a research note.

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