I have just read an article about a law suit brought by Bottin Cartographes in France against Google. Bottin Cartographes claim, and the French court agrees, that Google has been anti-competitive by offering it’s Google Maps API service free of charge, and that this is not competitive with it’s own business mapping service.
I think it can be really difficult for many conventional businesses to compete with companies like Google, who offer similar products and services free of charge. After all, if you have spent years of your time, and millions of pounds / euros / dollars, building your business, it is frustrating to find that a large organisation comes along and gives your USP away for free… especially if they [Google] had built that technology without necessarily sound business rules (i.e. investing with the expectation of a great ROI), but because they are awash with money and can afford to ‘dabble’.
As a consumer I think Google maps is a great application – so thank you google, but it is sad if it renders conventional businesses unviable as a result.
As a business owner myself, I’m wondering [tongue firmly in cheek] whether I should be seeking redress against Google because they offer websites for free when I charge my clients for them. Seriously, though, I know that I offer my clients a better, more professional and more thorough service than they can get from free Google Sites. I also believe that, as the saying goes, ‘all boats are lifted up in a flood’… meaning that the overall market for my business offering is actually much larger now that Google and other companies are encouraging more people into the arena with free websites.
Perhaps the French mapping company, and other organisations that think they have been hard done by, should think like this too!
What’s your view? Do you think you would be earning more money without the influence of Google on your business?