Google has addressed the anti-trust charges leveled at it by the European Union for the first time, blaming miscommunication and a difference in cultural values between the US and Europe. "We don’t always get it right," Google's European head, Matt Brittin, told Politico. "We understand that people [in Europe] are not the same in their attitudes to everything as people in America."
"There is no evidence that consumers have been harmed here."
Brittin blames the fact that Google did not have enough employees on the ground in Europe to understand the continent's objections. However, he is still dismissive of the case against the company. "There is no evidence that consumers have been harmed here, and actually no evidence that complainants have been harmed," he says. The EU formally accused Google of illegal, monopolistic search practices in April after a five-year probe, citing various concerns including that Google has been lowering the search rank of rival firms and prominently featuring its Google Shopping service "irrespective of its merits." The EU has also opened an antitrust investigation into Android, although Brittin did not pass comment on this.
Politico reports that Google is open to a settlement, but that Brittin believes the EU's accusations are out of date. He points to the growth of apps as proving that the "world has changed," and says that these now account for seven out of every eight minutes spent online. "There is a big shift in how we’re accessing information and I think there has never been a more competitive time than this in terms of the choices that consumers have," says Brittin.
But Google, of course, is working to get ahead of these changes. Its recently unveiled "Now on Tap" feature overlays the world of apps with contextual information provided by its search engine, allowing users to ask questions about music, restaurants, or film times without leaving the application they're in. Google may protest that it's no longer the absolute center of the online world, but that doesn't mean it's not trying.