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Is Google the next Microsoft? Competition, Welfare and Regulation in Internet Search

  • Pollock, Rufus

Internet search (or perhaps more accurately `web-search') has grown exponentially over the last decade at an even more rapid rate than the Internet itself. Starting from nothing in the 1990s, today search is a multi-billion dollar business. Search engine providers such as Google and Yahoo! have become household names, and the use of a search engine, like use of the Web, is now a part of everyday life. The rapid growth of online search and its growing centrality to the ecology of the Internet raise a variety of questions for economists to answer. Why is the search engine market so concentrated and will it evolve towards monopoly? What are the implications of this concentration for different `participants' (consumers, search engines, advertisers)? Does the fact that search engines act as `information gatekeepers', determining, in effect, what can be found on the web, mean that search deserves particularly close attention from policy-makers? This paper supplies empirical and theoretical material with which to examine many of these questions. In particular, we (a) show that the already large levels of concentration are likely to continue (b) identify the consequences, negative and positive, of this outcome (c) discuss the possible regulatory interventions that policy-makers could utilize to address these.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 8885.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:8885
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  1. Susan Athey & Glenn Ellison, 2007. "Position Auctions with Consumer Search," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001633, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Gandal, Neil, 2001. "The Dynamics of Competition in the Internet Search Engine Market," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0h17g08v, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  3. Jean‐Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Two‐sided markets: a progress report," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(3), pages 645-667, 09.
  4. Harris, Christopher & Vickers, John, 1985. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Model of a Race," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 193-209, April.
  5. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:3:p:668-691 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Yongmin Chen & Chuan He, 2011. "Paid Placement: Advertising and Search on the Internet," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(556), pages F309-F328, November.
  7. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Triole, 2002. "Platform competition in two sided markets," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 24929, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  8. Mark Armstrong, 2006. "Competition in two‐sided markets," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(3), pages 668-691, 09.
  9. Nocke, Volker & Peitz, Martin & Stahl, Konrad, 2004. "Platform Ownership," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 16, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  10. Benjamin Edelman & Michael Ostrovsky & Michael Schwarz, 2005. "Internet Advertising and the Generalized Second Price Auction: Selling Billions of Dollars Worth of Keywords," NBER Working Papers 11765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Shaked, Avner & Sutton, John, 1983. "Natural Oligopolies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(5), pages 1469-83, September.
  12. Varian, Hal R., 2007. "Position auctions," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 1163-1178, December.
  13. Glenn Ellison & Sara Fisher Ellison, 2004. "Search, Obfuscation, and Price Elasticities on the Internet," NBER Working Papers 10570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Anindya Ghose & Sha Yang, 2007. "An Empirical Analysis of Search Engine Advertising: Sponsored Search and Cross-Selling in Electronic Markets," Working Papers 07-35, NET Institute, revised Sep 2007.
  15. Pollock, Rufus, 2005. "The Control of Porting in Two-Sided Markets," MPRA Paper 5023, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jun 2007.
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