《经济学人》:谷歌的敌人
日期:2011-07-13 10:30

(单词翻译:单击)

Regulating the internet
监管互联网

Google's enemies
谷歌的敌人

The search giant’s antitrust headache gets bigger
搜索巨头的反垄断之困日渐增大

Jun 30th 2011 | SAN FRANCISCO | from the print edition

SINCE the start of this year, Google’s share price has fallen steadily as investors have begun to fret about its longer-term prospects. Now they have another reason to worry. On June 24th the company revealed that America’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had opened a broad investigation into its online-search and online-advertising businesses to see if it has abused its dominant position. Some pundits predict that the trustbusters’ tussle with Google could turn as bloody as their battle with Microsoft in the 1990s.
自今年初以来,由于投资者开始对谷歌发展远景感到担忧,其股价稳步下跌。如今他们又有了新的担忧理由,该公司在6月24日透露,美国联邦贸易委员会为确定谷歌是否滥用了主导地位,对其在线搜索和在线广告业务展开了广泛调查。一些专家预测,联邦反托拉斯检察官与谷歌的角力可能会变得非常残酷,其激烈程度可能与1990年代对决微软不相上下。

The regulators’ move comes at an awkward time for Google, which faces a growing threat from Facebook, the world’s biggest social network. Facebook aims to supplant Google as the main conduit via which people access the web. On June 28th Google hit back, unveiling Google+, a social-network platform to rival Facebook.
世界最大的社交网络Facebook意欲取代谷歌成为人们上网的主要媒介,对谷歌的威胁与日俱增,可是恰在此时监管者又对谷歌展开了行动。在6月28日,谷歌还以颜色,发布了社交网路平台Google+,以与Facebook一争高下。

Google’s new offering, which is still in trial form, boasts some handy features. It makes it easy to set up separate groups, thus sparing your boss from seeing your semi-clothed and inebriated party snaps. It also lets up to ten people hold a video chat together. But this will probably not be enough to get people to abandon Facebook, which benefits from a powerful network effect: people join it because most of their friends already have.
谷歌的新产品(仍处在测试阶段)具有一些方便的功能。它让创建不同的群变得容易,因此
不会让你的老板看到你的半裸和醉态熏熏的派对快照,同时它最多还能容纳十个人在一起视频聊天。但Facebook从强大的网络效应受益良多,这可能也不足以让人们割舍它:人们加入Facebook是因为他们大多数的朋友已经加入。

Still, Google’s determination to keep innovating has served it well in its core business of search, where it commands nearly two-thirds of the market in America and an even higher share elsewhere (see chart). It is this dominance that has attracted regulators’ attention in America and abroad. Last November the European Commission announced a similarly sweeping review of Google’s operations.
然而,谷歌不断创新的决心对其核心搜索业务帮助很大,在这项业务上谷歌几乎占据美国市场的三分之二,而在其他地区甚至拥有更高份额(见图表)。正是这种优势地位吸引了美国和海外监管者的注意。去年十一月,欧盟委员会宣布对谷歌的业务展开类似的全面调查。

Another reason that Google is attracting more attention is that it keeps expanding into new areas. In Silicon Valley, one of the first questions a potential investor asks a start-up is: “What would you do if Google moved into your space?” Some of Google’s new ventures have been controversial. For instance, regulators recently gave the company a green light (with conditions attached) to acquire ITA Software, which provides online flight information. Several other travel companies opposed the deal, howling that it would limit competition. Google’s critics say that because it has its fingers in so many pies, from online video to location-based services, it must surely be tempted to give some of its own businesses an artificial boost in its rankings.
谷歌吸引更多注意的另一个原因是它不断向新领域扩张。在硅谷,潜在投资者询问新创办公司的首要问题是:“如果谷歌进入你们的业务领域,你们会怎么做?”谷歌的一些新投资项目充满争议,比如监管者近来对该公司收购在线航班信息公司ITA Software的交易大开绿灯,其他一些旅游公司对这项交易表示强烈反对,他们咆哮说,这将限制竞争。谷歌的批评家表示,因为谷歌染指了从在线视频到位置服务(location-based service)的众多领域,它必定非常想人为推高自己业务的排名。

Google acknowledges that it makes hundreds of tweaks a year to the algorithms that determine the search results it serves up. But it insists that its aim is to improve users’ experience by, for example, blocking spam and thwarting firms that try to game its system. It also likes to point out that its rivals, including Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Bing search engine, are merely a click away. Rivals retort that only Google’s name has become a verb, and that this reflects its vice-like grip on the market. (The other possibility is that Google’s search engine is more popular because it is better.)
谷歌承认每年会对决定搜索结果的算法进行数百项修改,但坚称其目标是通过诸如阻止垃圾信息和对利用其系统进行作弊的公司进行阻扰的方式来提高用户体验。谷歌也乐于指出,其竞争对手——包括雅虎和微软的必应搜索引擎与它仅有咫尺之遥。竞争对手则反驳说,只有谷歌的名字成为一个动词,这一点就反映出谷歌对市场牢固的控制力。(另一个可能性是谷歌的搜索引擎更好,所以更加流行)。

Google is not invincible. Bing has been slowly increasing its share of American searches and is working with Facebook on integrating social-networking data into its results in a bid to improve them. (This is another reason why Google wants its own source of social data.) People are also being offered more and more digital information via other sources, including specialised search engines and software applications on smartphones.
谷歌并非不可战胜。必应在美国搜索市场的份额一直在缓慢地增长,而且它目前正与Facebook共同努力将社交网络数据整合到必应搜索结果中,以提高它们的地位。(这是谷歌希求自己的社交数据来源的另一个原因)。人们也正在通过其他来源得到越来越多的数字信息,包括专门化的搜索引擎和智能手机上的软件应用程序。

When it comes to web advertising, it is equally hard to see how any charges of monopolistic abuse against Google can be made to stick. There is no shortage of sites and ad networks unconnected to Google that are ready to take advertisers’ dollars. And the cost of switching from Google to a rival is very low.
对于网络广告来说,针对谷歌垄断滥用(monopolistic abuse)的任何指控同样难以成立。不少与谷歌没有干系的网站和网络做好了赚取广告费的准备,而且从谷歌转投到其竞争对手旗下的成本非常低。

None of this guarantees that Google will escape unscathed from the investigation. Eric Goldman of Santa Clara University reckons that the FTC’s watchdogs could raise questions about Google’s habit of occasionally bidding in its own ad auctions to promote “house” ads for its businesses. Google insists that it has always been transparent about this practice.

这些都不能保证谷歌能够安然逃脱调查。圣塔克拉拉大学(Santa Clara University)的埃里克•高曼估计,美国联邦贸易委员会的监管人员可能对谷歌偶尔参与自己组织的拍卖活动,为自身业务需要推销自家广告(House Ad)的行为进行盘问。谷歌坚称对此业务一直保持透明。

Like watchdogs for chocolate
恰似监管人员之于巧克力

Yet even if Google has to make some concessions in the end, talk of its predicament being the same as Microsoft’s in the 1990s is plainly ridiculous. By embedding only its own web browser into its Windows operating system, Microsoft deliberately restricted users’ choice in the hope they would become addicted to its products.
而即使谷歌最终不得不让步,有关其困难处境与1990年代的微软如出一辙的说法也显然是荒谬的。微软为了让客户对它的产品“上瘾”,通过蓄意在自家Windows操作系统中嵌入自家的网络浏览器的方式,限制了用户的选择。

Google is also addictive, but in the way that chocolate is, not in the way that cigarettes are. People love Googling, but they can easily give it up. Google’s lawyers must be hoping that the FTC understands this crucial distinction.
谷歌也令人“上瘾”,但这种瘾是巧克力那种瘾,而不是烟草的那种瘾。人们爱用谷歌进行搜索,但是他们可能很容易就弃它不用。谷歌的律师必定指望,美国联邦贸易委员会能够理解这种差别。

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重点单词
  • flightn. 飞行,航班 n. 奇思妙想,一段楼梯 n.
  • separaten. 分开,抽印本 adj. 分开的,各自的,单独的 v
  • expanding扩展的,扩充的
  • escapev. 逃跑,逃脱,避开 n. 逃跑,逃脱,(逃避)方法、
  • acquirevt. 获得,取得,学到
  • transparentadj. 透明的,明显的,清晰的
  • competitionn. 比赛,竞争,竞赛
  • threatn. 威胁,凶兆 vt. 威胁, 恐吓
  • occasionallyadv. 偶尔地
  • platformn. 平台,站台,月台,讲台,(政党的)政纲