A German business model

You will never find a finer example of a certain German business model popular in the internet age than in an open letter to Google’s Eric Schmidt written by Mathias Döpfner, head of the conservative German publishing giant Axel Springer. (English translation courtesy of the all-seeing, all-powerful Google here.)

The essence of that business model, as practiced especially by German and sometimes French legacy publishers, is to stomp their feet like pouty kindergartners missing a turn at kickball, whining “that’s not fair” and yelling that everything wrong on this playground is the fault of another kid, then running to hide behind the skirt of the teacher. That is what Döpfner does here, demonizing Google (and Mark Zuckerberg while he’s at it) for numerous perceived sins I’ll explore below and — here’s the real agenda — demanding that the European Commission rescue the dinosaurs (his word) with regulation.

What a humiliating moment it must be for a powerful businessman to admit that he cannot compete in the marketplace. The entire letter struck me as an act of economic self-castration. It must also hurt for the head of a bastion of political conservatism in Germany — the publisher of the newspaper Bild, a Fox-News-with-boobs, and the leader of the company that constructed its headquarters ass-on the Berlin Wall just to extend a middle finger to the communists across it — to now beg government (the EU at that) for regulation. You’d think Döpfner lived in San Francisco and was a dancer in clown suit blocking Google buses. This is a call for big-government interference in the market we wouldn’t see even from the Guardian or The New York Times.

There’s history here. Döpfner and Springer led a fight by German publishers to stop Google from, in their view, stealing snippets of their articles on Google News — even though, as Eric Schmidt likes to point out, Google sends 10 billion vists to publishers every month. Here, too, the big boys of publishing ran to hide behind the skirts of government, getting a law called the Leistungschutzrecht passed. That seemed like victory until all the publishers went ahead and allowed Google to quote and link to them because, to paraphrase Woody Allen, they needed the eggs. Insert pouty foot-stomping here.

In the meantime, the antitrust forces of the European Commission investigated Google and negotiated an agreement. But this doesn’t go far enough for Döpfner. And, besides, a defanged, pacified, regulated, cooperative Google is no fun if you want to kick up dust on the playground and blame someone else for all your woes. Young Döpfner needs Google to be a big, bad bully.

So in his letter, Döpfner pulls out every last stop to demonize Google. He compares Google with the Mafia, complaining that the EC’s agreement with Google — stipulating the ability of competitors to buy ads on Google — smacks of “protection money.” (Would Springer’s Bild take ads from its competitors?) But that’s nothing. Döpfner says Mark Zuckerberg views on privacy could come from the head of the Stasi (I find this trivialization of an evil regime offensive); he says Google “sits on the entire privacy of mankind like the giant Fafner in the Ring of the Nibelung;” and then, giving up is last shred of subtlety, invokes Orwell. “Forget Big Brother,” Döpfner squeals, “Google is better!”

Döpfner complains about Google’s search-engine market share, not mentioning that German users — last I knew — gave Google its second-highest penetration in the world, and he also makes its success in creating great services in video, email, and mobile sound ominous. He complains about Google’s self-driving cars competing with Volkswagen and about Google buying Nest and entering our homes. Parody comes to life:

But Döpfner goes much farther in his effort to portray Google as a dark specter overtaking Europe when he frets about Google buying drone companies and allegedly planning huge ships and floating offices operating in stateless waters and wonders whether it will create a superstate floating free of laws. “One needn’t be a conspiracy theorist,” he says, “to find this disturbing.”

Then Döpfner makes a series of recommendations that I am confident he knows are absurd, for I know Döpfner and he is as very smart man. He asks that Google reveal the quantitative criteria behinds its search algorithm, though, of course, that would only enable every spammer on earth to game Google, making it worthless as as service. He asks Google to not store IP addresses and to delete cookies after every session, making targeted advertising impossible and also making Google and its advertising business worthless. He complains about Google and other companies — singling out Jawbone — collecting and using behavioral data to support free services, concluding that “it is better and cheaper to pay with something old-fashioned: simply with money.”

Aha. That is — or was — Springer’s business model until it failed at newspapers and sold most of them, except Bild and its ever-struggling Welt — buying digital enterprises to replace them. Döpfner would like to force the world into his model: People used to buy our content with money so they must continue. To invent new models, well, that’s just not fair, is it? Anything else should be stomped out by government protecting the incumbents. There’s his real agenda.

I find this more tragic than comic. Just as Germany is moving past its reputation for being skittish with entrepreneurial risk and failure, just as it is giving up its bad habit of copycatting American internet startups rather than inventing their own, and just as Berlin’s start-up scene — very near Springer’s headquarters in what used to be the East — is coming into its own as a real creative, technical, and entrepreneurial powerhouse, here comes a titan of old industry making his nation appear technophobic, uncompetitive, and even slightly anticapitalistic.

I don’t think Döpfner believes most of what he wrote, just as Springer and its fellow travelers really didn’t believe in their Leistungschutzrecht. I heard publishers there say that they pushed for the law just so they could strengthen their negotiating position with Google. Too bad for them it didn’t work. So now Döpfner continues to play, thinking that by bullying Google in the press and with government, he can get a pity turn at kickball. But he should beware the unintended consequences of his game, affecting the reputation of Germany as a source of technological and industrial innovation and inviting greater government regulation and interference in markets.

I am surprised you fear Google, Mathias. I thought you were stronger than that.

[Disclosures: Axel Springer flew me a few years ago to speak at its managers’ retreat in Tuscany and I’ve also been engaged to speak at its headquarters. Google is flying me to its headquarters — with no other fee — in two weeks to speak to its privacy group. I own Google stock. I have always found Döpfner and the editor of Bild, Kai Diekmann, to be charming and smart and I’ve said much of what I just said here to them over wine.]

  • http://tomfishd.tumblr.com Tom Fish

    Great answer to the open letter from MD. But I don’t think it’s the absolute “german” way of thinking. There are many more germans much more open minded. :)

    In one point I would agree with MD: Google is near to be a monopolist in the market, especially the german market. But it’s not the EC, it’s the consumer…

    • petra_panther

      it´s a natural monopoly. and if the cause is behaviour of consumers, it should still be no charter for misusing a dominant market position.

    • http://buzzmachine.com/ Jeff Jarvis

      No, of course there is not a single German way of thinking. But I do see this kind of argument more often in Germany and France than anywhere else.

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  • Carl

    i think Leistungsschutzrecht was only the first step. the next step could be a law that compels Google to link to Springer, Burda and so on. An action against the evil monopoly. which then forces Google to pay for the Leistungsschutzrecht.

  • petra_panther

    Dear Mr Jarvis, it´s hard to read your text, as it seems to me, that you just try to please yourself and your fellow libertarians with your mockery. What kind of journalist are you, that you pretend to not know, that natural monopolies exist and can persist for a long time. How naive are you that you obviously think, that Google does not misuse its monopoly position, its dominant market position.. (yes, in Germany you can speak of monopoly in internet search). You don´t care, if Google charges monopoly prices for search ads, as it benefits the U.S. internet ecosystem. But we do. And I can only hope, that the EU states and the EU as a whole is not as slow regarding upholding competition law in the future as it has been until now. The only thing, that the Google & Amazon and other mega corporations want is domination and supremacy. It´s time to fight that.

    • http://www.nerd-supreme.de/ Moritz Jaeger

      German here: You are defining monopoly wrong, as therer are several alternatives to Google and all its services:
      Search: Bing, DuckDuckGo, SemaGer or MetaGer
      Mail: United Internet (gmx, web, etc – partners with Springer against evil adblocks) or you run your own mailserver
      Social Network: Diaspora
      Image-Hosting: F-Secures Younited or one of the other 100 services (or your own website)
      Ad-Services: Populis Ad Network, IDG Tech Network are the few that I remember on top of my head
      Analytics: Run Piwik on your server

      And just because people like services of one company doesn’t make it a monopoly. People use Google because the alternatives suck. Plain and simple.

      • Mordred

        You did not get the point.
        Google has the biggest market shares in many services, you have already mentioned some of them. The “why” is not the topic of Petra, neither that (bad/good) alternatives exist.
        To come to the point: It is not that dangerous to have a monopolist for planes, screws, tea etc. But if one company controls and holds the information of so many people the world has a severe problem.

        • http://www.nerd-supreme.de/ Moritz Jaeger

          I agree. However, Google is not a monopoly. There are chances, that someone builds a better service.
          For example: There are three bars, two with shitty service, high prices and greasy floors. One with nice barkeepers, decent prices and nice furniture. Where would you go?
          Yes, Google has a lot of data, but so does Springer (Doepfners company). In the end, it is up to people who they want to give their data to. Currently, I prefer Google to Springer.

        • petra_panther

          Oh my god: it doesnt matter, if its a 100% monopoly, i was just to lazy to lookup the word “Quasi Monopol” http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopol#Quasi-Monopol (near monopoly situation) . And if you compare Google Data with Springer Data you dont get the concept of “markets”. I am speaking about the keyword related search ad market. …

          and people in Germany don´t use google, because the alternatives suck, but because they are just used to search in google, because it was the first best simple solution after the “metaplatform” search engines like yahoo or altavista. no need to switch now. and the disruption possibilities are not really existing, as there is no USP that could be disrupting. at least not at the moment.

        • petra_panther

          to the guest commenting below (who wrote: “So, your idea is replacing Google with Yahoo/Altavista? Yeah, that makes sense…”) -> i don´t know, where you actually read that between the lines, but be sure, this thought only dwells in your head.

        • Joe Milli

          What’s your point? “…people in Germany don´t use google, because the alternatives suck, but because they are just used to search in google, because it was the first best simple solution after the “metaplatform” search engines like yahoo or altavista”
          Meaning in your opinion the “quasi” monopoly exists, because internet users are too lazy and too used to Google to try alternatives? This argument is oxymoronic in it’s very essence. The nature of a monopoly, even a “quasi” one is, that the monopolist makes it hard for you to use alternatives.
          “Wer nach einem solchen Quasi-Standard arbeitende Software oder Daten nutzen oder mit anderen austauschen will, ist auf die Produkte dieses Anbieters angewiesen.”
          The moment you type “Bing” in your Google search, it allows you to find the competitor as the first result on the front page! As stated above, having a large portion of the market is not the only attribute of a (quasi) monopoly.
          My customers being used to my service does NOT turn my market in to a monopoly in any way shape or form.

        • petra_panther

          “The nature of a monopoly, even a “quasi” one is, that the monopolist makes it hard for you to use alternatives. ” – if you don´t even know what a monopoly is, its hard to discuss with you. do me a favour. read an article about “monopoly” and natural monopoly.

        • Joe Milli

          Now Petra, you’re just trolling. Please explain what is wrong about the attribute that you quoted. Or let me make it easy for you

          “Monopoly: A monopoly exists when a (as in ONE) specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity[…].”

          A “Quasi” monopoly in a software environment, is pillared on de facto standards, which nurture the competitive edge of the monopolist. GOOGLE’S SEARCH ALGORITHM IS NOT THE DE FACTO STANDARD FOR ALL SEARCH ENGINES, therefore allowing any competitor with a viable algorithm and clever marketing to steal their market share.

          It’s not the lack of my understanding, which makes it hard for you to prove a point but your lack of grasping, that entry barriers play a fundamental role in a monopolistic market environment. There is little to no barrier for Bing, Yahoo, etc. Even Springer could program their own search engine and bite off a piece of the market. You seem to look at monopolistic markets simply from the share perspective, which is not the only quality which constitutes for a monopoly.
          Next time try to argue the point and not your wishful thinking of being surrounded by dummies.

        • petra_panther

          see my dear joe milli, that´s where we differ. apparently you read words, when reading about monopoly and other theorems. and those words are like dead animals to you. for me a theorem is not a dead animal mounted to the wall. its a very vivid fast mouse, which i try to catch. so do me one favour: don´t read about economics, try to apply it to the real word… the barrier to entry is very easily defined: call it loyalty. call it habit. call it lack of additional usp. call it satisfaction with search results.

        • Joe Milli

          thanks for concluding this string of the debate by de facto giving up on the topic, fogging up the issue with ad hominem attacks, instead of fruitful thought.
          i’ll leave you to your mice and arguments for the argument’s sake.

        • petra_panther

          actually i don´t see where you see me leaving the topic. but it´s often that people who see that they are wrong on the topic do a counterattack. read my words, i wrote: “call it loyalty. call it habit. call it lack of additional usp. call it satisfaction with search results.” -> high loyalty rate (for whatever reason) is a barrier to entry! and can create a near monopoly situation.

        • petra_panther

          so it seems, that you have left the conversation just the moment when the discussion began. sad.

        • http://buzzmachine.com/ Jeff Jarvis

          What Joe says.

        • petra_panther

          But Joe´s reasoning is mostly “bla bla”. It´s sad if you agree.

      • http://buzzmachine.com/ Jeff Jarvis

        Genau again. And I’ll repeat once more: It’s German users who give Google its marketshare. I don’t hear or see them complaining. I see weak German media complaining and using *their* power to try to influence government against Google.

        • petra_panther

          @jeffjarvis:disqus: That´s a very weak argument, if one at all. Apparently you are not a fan of antitrust law and competition law. A misuse of a monopoly (near monopoly situation) doesn´t need to be perceived as a misuse.

    • http://buzzmachine.com/ Jeff Jarvis

      First, I am a Clinton Democrat. Second, show me that abuse with evidence, please. Third, can’t you argue your points without insult? How weak that is.

    • http://dataanxiety.tumblr.com/ Ellie K

      For @petra_panther:disqus my thoughts on this matter are similar to yours, and I am American. The USA has become something of an oligarchy, though, so my concerns and those of my economic caste aren’t of much relevance.

      If you read the post following this, on 26 April 2014, you may gain some insight as for motive, concerning Professor Jarvis’s Google-positive attitude.

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  • Florian Hohenauer

    Another quote in Doepfner’s article quite disturbed me: “Das Wesen der Freiheit ist […] dass ich das Recht auf Diskretion und, ja, sogar Geheimnisse habe…”. The boss of Bild – the German newspaper that does only care about privacy of other people if it fits their plans – is claiming to be the guardian of privacy and freedom rights. Not credible. At all.

    • petra_panther

      you are totally right, that doepfner is not a credible source and its good to say that as long as they own the bild zeitung. as they are actually the devil himself. BUT regarding google he is right. and being one of the biggest media ceos it´s actually good that he starts the conversation.

  • http://twitter.com/jimhirshfield JimHirshfield

    “…over wine” – stated with class Jeff.
    Nice piece. Thanks for bringing it to my attention; was unaware until now.

    • http://dataanxiety.tumblr.com/ Ellie K

      You think so? “I’ve said much of what I just said here to them over wine.” Closer to tacky than classy. I cringed, but what do I know…

  • Ibo Mazari

    It is pure hypocrisy! Springer whistles on the personal rights and the advertising department distributes personal information from readers. Address trade is very lucrative for publishers. Who does it still dazzle?

    • http://buzzmachine.com/ Jeff Jarvis

      Genau.

  • Alex

    From my persepective as a German the letter of MD is purely sad, because it reflects the view of many who are saying things have been better in the past and therefor try to keep it. Although I totally agree with JJ here, because changes are part of our culture, I think the most negative impact is, that a chance has been missed to influence a discussion of how the net should look like in the future. All these fights totally oversee this general discussion. Do we agree in an App-Culture, which is driven by some major players who develop being gatekeepers? What is the role of such players like Google, Apple, Facebook, being Gatekeepers in terms of allowing/restricting free access to any information? I mean, because of the digitalisation of our lives how do we ensure a balance between human rights and the right of developers and companies of doing and evolute their business. In a time where access to the net becomes as important like having access to clean water, gas, electricity how do we describe the role of those companies. Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe destroying this global acting companies can be of an essential benefit for the people, but I think it could be a good time to discuss the role of those who are gatekeepers without a network infrastructure ( in comparison to the gas, water, electricity companies and the ISP’s). From my perspective MD missed the chance to bring this existing discussion to the public, of course because he has no interest in such a discussion.

    • http://buzzmachine.com/ Jeff Jarvis

      Do you prefer the days of Bild being the gatekeeper. Herr Doepfner apparently does.

      • petra_panther

        You really don´t have any good arguments. Maybe you should cite that Germans anyway shouldnt say anything @jeffjarvis:disqus, because of their history.

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  • http://almostadiary.de Tobias Schwarz

    I understand the scepticism with regards to his letter given the lack of Springer’s privacy street cred. It also sounds like there’s a bit of disappointment in your words, given that Springer, and likely Döpfner, would probably share your position in principle (and has probably even personally indicated this to you over wine). Otherwise it would be odd to basically claim that regulatory lobbying cannot be not a legitimate part of a business strategy. That’s potentially admitting a certain kind of weakness, but it’s certainly not castration. I’d call it realism.

    With respect to the socially relevant privacy aspects he mentions, It will be interesting to see what position Springer papers will take in the next privacy debates – the data retention directive has been annulled by the ECJ last week, but there will undoubtedly be national and European attempts to introduce similar legislation in the near future. And then there’s the likely Snowden hearing in the Bundestag. Given Springer’s staunch loyalty to the US, the BILD and Welt coverage will be an interesting indicator of Döpfner’s, and the company’s, committment to the privacy concerns he mentions in his letter.

    Springer’s usual position – as perceived by me – jusitifies your scepticism and weakens Döpfners argument considerably. But I wouldn’t forget the sauna thing.

    It may seem paradoxical for you to read what he writes, but I wouldn’t underestimate the impact of his words in Germany, and potentially in Europe. In fact, he may very well have picked the right point of time for such a letter. Google and other US online giants are still very much dominating the web, while a regulatory paradigm shift is on its way, given that much of the technical and social fabric that makes up the web today has been kind of broken by the US adminstration’s surveillance efforts, as not least Marc Zuckerberg recently put it. Thus, Döpfner’s letter may well also be an expression of his realization of the certainly growing political tendency to take back control from the open regulatory principle we call internet to the more closed regulatory principle we call the state (or a supranational entity).

    If so, he may actually be thinking one step further than you are here.

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  • Peter Klaue

    Dear Jeff,

    as a disclaimer I should kick it off that I know a few parties involved, that I’ve listened to you on congresses (where amongst other things you promoted your PRINTED books: “I’ve got to pay my kids’ tuition”) and own Springer stock, which did not perform as well as your Google stock over the past 5 years, but with + 225 % vs. + 265 % there are worse stocks to pick ;-)

    Where – in all due respect – your arguing becomes unfair is that Döpfner does not appeal much less begs to the European regulatory authorities in order to limit Google’s prosperity but rather criticizes the European Commissioner’s (in charge of Competition) proposal which in hindsight turns out to become an additional source of income for Google; in other words, it achieves the exact opposite of what was initially sought. But the fact that Brussels’ proposals qualify for anywhere between proof of incompetence and proof of copy capabilities of lobbyist’s drafts isn’t something unheard of.

    For the strong worded US boy this is obviously Old European wimp’s talk but you might assess the fact, that for instance a publisher, who owns 9 % of market share of newspaper advertising in one single national market only, already hits the regulatory ceiling (risk of limiting competition in the ProSieben take over case) whereas a company that controls a presumed 60 % of market share of online advertising in that same single national market sails off limits. And for the broader picture: that the newspaper company is required to publish its newspaper’s advertising revenue whereas the internet company doesn’t not even reveal its advertising revenue by country, that the online advertising’s market share has taken over the magazines’, is about to take over the newspapers’ share – and has already done so in the US; when TV’s? – might not be unheard of as well.

    If you compare the monopolizing developments of Standard Oil 1870 – 1911 vs. Google’s – and it’s the likes of the Jeff Jarvis’ of this world who lead the wording which qualifies the internet’s potential for everything from resources to railroads, from mind blowing to mind building, from replacing human intelligence by algorithmic intransigence – there might be a certain likelihood that Google’s business (algorithm =
    refinery / ranking = control of pipe lines / a.s.o.) might face a similar regulatory challenge within the next 10 years in the US. Needless to say that in each of these internet market categories Google’s share is already higher than Standard Oil’s respective share was in 1911. That Standard Oil’s impact on the industrial economy was evil should be out of the question even for the most libertarian spirited. Whether Google’s impact on the internet economy will not be evil the future will tell.

    Best

    Peter

    • http://buzzmachine.com/ Jeff Jarvis

      You expect Google to be forced to promote its competitors for free? I ask again: Should we expect die Welt to promote die Zeit for free? I’ll repeat what I said in another comment: It is the german users who give Google (last I knew) 97% market share in search versus 63% in the U.S. So blame your landsmen.

      • Peter Klaue

        Jeff,

        to carry a competitor’s advertising for free or to deliver a listing randomly is obviously nonsense. The only circles were ranking results are seriously questioned as being discriminatory are in the public sector, the large public TV broadcast services in Europe e.g. ARD and ZDF in Germany. That’s thoroughly understandable from their perspective. If you manage that every TV remote control sold in this country carries ARD under button number “1” – which happens to be the ergonomically preferred place for rest for your thumb while leaning back and switching on – than any ranking not producing the public channel first e.g. on your smart TV is discrimination at its worst! Why this story? Because it will fill you in for a perfect example of how far regulation European style can go compared to what you are used to.

        Public TV e.g. in Germany collects 8 Billion EUR (11 Billion $) from the unhappy contributor. That might help generate a self esteem where any ranking disputing a number 1 position is considered inappropriate. By the way, 8 Billion is app. 1.5 x the consolidated turnover of all private TV broadcasters in the German market. The previous not withstanding are the private channels subordinated to a must-buy-programming regulation, so-called “Drittsendezeiten” or third-party-windows for the good of variety. These windows are prime time windows for which they have to buy and broadcast programming from independent third party producers. To top this example the authorities vet the supplying producers and, strangely enough, the ones vetted haven’t changed since private TV took off in 1982. No competing producer ever obtained approval. That’s regulation aborting competition. If you haven’t heard of regulatory straightjackets come to Europe! We show you!

        In the newspaper market in Germany every transaction involving parties having combined sales exceeding 50 m EUR requires regulatory approval. And that in a market doomed for consolidation! In an environment where every “Mittelstand” publisher – and that’s about 99 % of publishers in Germany – is submitted to regulation a company like Google which commands an estimated 60 % share of the billion EUR online advertising market is not; matter of fact we don’t even know Google’s sales stemming from that source since nothing is published, presumably for reasons of tax avoidance.

        Don’t take me wrong. I am NOT a fan of regulation but I simply want you to understand that from a German publisher’s perspective the newspaper advertising market or more generally conventional media markets vs. the online advertising market are treated unequally; so far for the European regulation theatre.

        A totally different theatre is Google’s dominance – by the way thoroughly merited – in the search segment. Everyone loved Google when it helped you find your way through the internet. Google became synonymous for the best results, subjectively considered objectively best.

        However and as you will undoubtfully know Google has for long given up being a search engine only. And with more and more Google services being subjected to its solely controlled algorithm and more and more competing services finding themselves all of a sudden in ranking positions below perception level – where does legitimate business interest end and where does exploitation of market dominance start?

        Since they are the “don’t-be-evil-guys” you may argue that Google will refrain from preferable treatment of its own services in order not to impair the internet search experience; because that would ultimately deviate user’s interest to competing search engines. However with 97 % of market share in search that is difficult to imagine. It’s Google’s own success which will ultimately bring it before the regulators. There is not yet talk for the “public good” against Google’s “gate & result’s keeper” position but given it’s thrive I wouldn’t wonder if it did sooner or later – even in the US.

        Peter

      • petra_panther

        @jeffjarvis:disqus: Weak argument. Die Zeit doesn´t have a dominant, near monopoly, market position and is NOT misusing its power. And I will repeat what I said: the German users are irrelevant for the whole discussion.

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  • LimboJimbo

    “He asks Google to not store IP addresses and to delete cookies after
    every session, making targeted advertising impossible and also making
    Google and its advertising business worthless”

    FYI: Germans mostly use an browser addon called AdBlock+
    So we are working on the ruin of this kind of capitalism very well ;-)
    The Internet looks better and goes faster!

    Works also for android phones.

  • petra_panther

    and by the way: my dear jeff jarvis: are you writing a blog? then it´s very arrogant not to communicate with the readers..

    • http://buzzmachine.com/ Jeff Jarvis

      Including those who insult me?

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  • Helge Gallefoss

    Dear Jeff,

    You are missing the basic point. My teenager kid said a few years ago: “What happens with my mind if Google manipulates all my answers over 5 year?” During Busch I remember when searching Google for the word “failure” – I found first answer being White House. I could agree, and it was funny, but also totally scary.

    I am a bit shocked that a reputable Internet journalist is responding this way to Mathias Dopfner, not being concerned at all that there is de facto only one search engine. The open letter is just a friendly straightforward; “Houston, we have a problem”. Your response is anger, attack and patronizing language. Why so angry?

    Is this classical American Exceptionalism? Do you honestly think that US have a God given right to dominate the world? Mankind is in the midst of a historical change as profound as the Industrial Revolution. Is it for mankind´s best that Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple shall own our digital future?

    Europeans has a very different view on democracy, privacy and individual rights than Americans. This may not be difficult to understand, as we have more than 2 parties, and members of our parliaments are not seated in their positions because large corporations has funded their campaigns – putting them in payback positions when governing. In US corporations are in the centre, in Europe it is the individuals.

    Google has the power and will to manipulate both politically and commercially with their algorithms. They are not evil by doing their business, but a monopoly market on web search is fundamentally evil, nobody should be given that power. Europe has lost initiative; we have been sleeping in the digital classroom. Should we just give up, or fight back and give these giants competition? And do we have to regulate this very free global
    digital market? These are the questions Mr Dopfner is raising, and we should
    all take them very seriously.

    • http://buzzmachine.com/ Jeff Jarvis

      Google has much, much higher penetration in the German market than in the U.S. Apparently, the German user — unlike German media — want to use Google. Do you think they are all wrong or stupid? That would be unfortunate.
      Oh, and your “failure” example was an instance of gaming Google, not of Google, of course. Jeesh.

      • petra_panther

        Actually @jeffjarvis:disqus i don´t understand your point of view. The German user is irrelevant for the question if Google misuses its market power. What is relevant: if there is a dominant situation in a relevant market and if Google misuses it to harm COMPETITORS. I dont know US competition law, but apparently you also don´t know much about the German / European. Otherwise you wouldn´t / shouldn´t argue like this.

    • http://dataanxiety.tumblr.com/ Ellie K

      Helge, I am disappointed too by Jeff Jarvis’s post. Control of flow of information is of paramount concern.

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  • Harold Hoffman

    Well. stop using google and use the non tracking search engine LookSeek and let some competition in the market. everybody complains about them and uses them http://lookseek.com

  • http://acebow.com acebow

    all german are srtange…

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  • David

    Hi Jeff,

    I would be very keen to hear your take on the publishing giant you forgot in this piece, Burda. Burda is successful in the digital age and can boast of “revenues above 50% coming from digital.” All very impressive, but what is often forgotten is the definition of what “digital” is. Burda makes money from selling dog food and diapers, while cutting down on content and moving far, far away from anything merely resembling quality journalism. Old man Burda himself famously stated that content in itself doesn’t sell. So, is this a better model? Burda adapted to a changing market and reap the benefits in terms of cash. But at what price? Is quality journalism nowhere to be found in this equation? I genuinely wonder…

    A bit off topic, but hope you’ll chip in with your views.

    Cheers,

    David

  • petra_panther

    Dear Jeff Jarvis: maybe you should switch off the comments, if you are not willing to communicate with your readers.

    • http://buzzmachine.com/ Jeff Jarvis

      Lieber Petra Panther,
      I’ve been busy.
      jeff

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