Google may be forced to spin off Chrome. The U.S. Department of Justice and the state attorney general’s office are investigating search giant Google for alleged antitrust violations and discussing ways to restrict google, Politico reported, citing three people familiar with the matter. Among the options being considered by prosecutors is to sue Google and force it to sell Chrome and part of its advertising business.
Google may be forced to spin off Chrome.
As early as June 2019, it emerged that the U.S. government would investigate the big four of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple to see if the tech giants were “big instead of down.” The government’s review of the companies includes whether it has crushed competitors, how it handles users’ personal data, and how it deals with false information during the election campaign.
The government agency investigating Google is the U.S. Department of Justice, which focuses on its search, advertising and other businesses.
In early September 2019, Google confirmed that it had been notified by the U.S. Department of Justice of a request for records related to the antitrust investigation, and that the government’s antitrust investigation into Google had officially begun, for almost 14 months.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust investigation into Google is about to reach its climax,media said.
Prosecutors are understood to be suing Google over two businesses, and one of the main questions they face is: What should be done to rein in Google?
On the one hand, the U.S. Department of Justice is expected to file an antitrust lawsuit against Google as early as this week, accusing it of abusing its control of the search market, which is expected to include Google cementing its search engine position through the Android operating system.
On the other hand, the U.S. Department of Justice and state attorneys general have consulted Google’s competitors and other third parties about which businesses Google should sell.
According to Politico, a person familiar with the matter said:
Discussions are still ongoing about how to address Google’s control of the $162.3 billion global digital advertising market, and no final decision has been made yet. But prosecutors have asked advertising technologists, industry rivals and media publishers to take steps to weaken Google’s grip.
Prosecutors have raised the question of whether Google’s competitors should be banned from becoming potential buyers of advertising, according to people familiar with the matter.
Lawyers also raise the question: Is Google selling any assets outside the advertising technology market?
This question directly led some people to point the finger at Chrome, which means that Google may be forced to sell Chrome.
Here are two questions to answer as to why you want to sell Chrome and who picks it up.
Why sell it?
Once forced to sell Chrome, it would be a major blow to Google. After all, Chrome is the world’s most popular browser, a logo that netizens call a tire, but it’s about the fortunes of tech giant Google.
Since the victory over Netscape in 1998, IE browsers have dominated the entire browser market, with IE’s market share reaching 96.6% by April 2002, according to OneStat.com.
It has to be said that 2008 ushered in a watershed in the desktop browser market.
In September of that year, Chrome began public testing, with downloads available in more than 100 countries.
Since then, the desktop browser market has seen Chrome, IE, and Firefox “three-in-three.”
Android grew rapidly in 2010-2016, dominating the mobile operating system, while Chrome, which is growing behind it, grew.
Chrome is growing so fast that it’s not hard to see from this set of data:
In December 2015, IE’s market share fell to 48.57 percent, Chrome rose to 32.33 percent, and Firefox’s share was 12.13 percent.
In June 2016, Chrome had a market share of 48.65 percent, compared with 31.65 percent for IE.
In June 2017, Chrome’s market share was 59.36 percent, compared with 17.55 percent for IE.
Today, Chrome is the browser with the largest market share , with Chrome at the top of the global browser market in April 2020, with Microsoft’s Chrome Edge and Firefox in second and third place respectively.
It’s worth noting that Chromium is the foundation of Chrome, which means that the second-ranked Edge is a source of same-origin relationships with Chrome, and Google’s influence is growing.
Behind Chrome’s rapid growth, however, is the constant criticism from competitors that Google is using Chrome’s user history to boost its advertising business.
In January 2020, the blame escalated. So Google says:
The use of third-party cookies in Chrome will be phased out within two years to protect user privacy.
However, it should not be overlooked that cookies are a key tool in browsers to show buyers the effectiveness of advertising. Google has estimated that stopping using cookies would reduce advertising revenue in the news media, with online advertising revenue likely to fall by up to 62%.
Just recently, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee released an antitrust report.
The report notes that Chrome’s current market share has enabled Google to “effectively set industry standards,” an issue closely related to Chrome’s phasing out of cookies.
The report says:
Google’s ad-based business model raises the question: Is the advertising standard that Google chose to introduce ultimately designed to serve its interests? Market participants are concerned that Google will be able to eco-collect data, even though it will phase out third-party cookies needed for digital advertising.
In the face of outside voices, Google has also said it will work with the advertising industry to develop alternatives to cookies, such as proposing a Turtledove system in which ad auctions will take place in a browser and not send data to external servers.
Google believes this will better protect users’ privacy. However, many representatives of the advertising industry said they should be cautious about giving too much control over browsers without supervision.
So, in addition to asking Google to sell Chrome, prosecutors can ask the courts to restrict Google’s use of data from Chrome to help other products develop.
According tomedia, the U.S. Department of Justice is expected to start an “antitrust legal battle” in the coming weeks, and Google could become the first U.S. company in decades to be split by court order.
Who will take the offer?
So who would be a potential buyer if Google ended up selling Chrome? Forbes, the US business magazine, gives its own answer to this question.
Forbes lists five possible “candidates” and why they are on the list.
One is Samsung.
Samsung has money and motivation. Samsung, a great smartphone maker, pre-installs its own browser on all phones, but its browser has just over 4% of the mobile market. If it buys Chrome, Samsung will attract a large number of users, and advertising and mobile sales will increase.
However, it is not realistic for Chrome to be sold to a foreign company.
Earlier this year, Microsoft switched its browser to the same engine as Chrome, the Chrome Edge browser described above, and is clearly an important potential buyer. The acquisition of Chrome will not only give Microsoft the mobile market it has long craved for years, but also restore the dominance of Microsoft’s desktop browser.
But at the turn of the century, U.S. and European governments fought a long battle against Microsoft’s browser dominance. Even if the market is different now, the Idea of the U.S. Department of Justice handing Over Chrome to Microsoft seems out of the question.
On the face of it, it’s hard to connect a corporate software company to a consumer-facing browser, but Oracle recently became TikTok’s “trusted technology partner” in the U.S.
There is no denying that many of Oracle’s applications are browser-based and control browser development and security features, which will be attractive to enterprise customers.
HP remains the world’s second-largest PC seller, according to Gartner, so it clearly has the strength to compete.
On the one hand, HP has made a number of bold acquisitions; on the other, if forced to sell Chrome, Google will also abandon its web notebook Chromebook business, which HP is very much hoping to take over.
Five is Adobe.
Unlike HP, Adobe has an absolute software pedigree. As Google increasingly pushes its services into cloud computing, having a home browser also means business.
In recent years, Adobe has made significant revenue from subscription models, and acquiring Chrome is financially viable.
It is worth noting that the above-mentioned “candidates” are onlymedia speculation, whether Chrome will be sold, who will take over, is still unknown.