Describing this as an “important step forward”, on 5 February 2014, the EC announced that Google had made an improved offer to end the competition law investigation into its business practices in the EU.
Under its proposal, Google has agreed that whenever it promotes its own specialised search services on its web page (e.g. for products, hotels, restaurants, etc.), the services of three rivals, selected through an objective method, will also be displayed in a way that is clearly visible to users and comparable to the way in which Google displays its own services. This will apply not only for existing specialised search services, but also to changes in the presentation of those services and for future services. This would be in addition to other concessions already made by Google.
The case shows again that the EC will enforce competition law even in fast-moving technology markets. For example, solely in relation to Google, the EC is also currently investigating allegations relating to the Android operating system and, in the Motorola case, issues concerning standard essential patents. This provides dangers for technology companies but also opportunities for complainants.