Part of an antitrust agreement with the European Union regulators, Google has agreed to tweak its search results in Europe.
The search giant has agreed that when a user searches for a product, for example, the search results of its rivals — Amazon, let's say — will be displayed along with those of advertisers paying Google for prominent space.
As The Wall Street Journal reports that the settlement allows Google to dodge what could have been billions of dollars in fines. Microsoft, for example, paid $2.5 billion in fines over a similar allegations from E.U. regulators.
Bloomberg reports that regulators hailed the agreement:
"'No antitrust authority in the world has obtained such concessions,' EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters in Brussels. 'The concessions we have extracted from Google in this case are far-reaching and have a clear potential to restore a level playing-field in the important markets of online search and advertising.'
"The deal will close one of the EU's most high-profile antitrust cases as the bloc's antitrust chief seeks similar settlements with OAO Gazprom, Samsung Electronics Co. and Visa Europe Ltd. before he leaves office at the end of October. Breaking the terms of such a pact carries a penalty of as much as 10 percent of global revenue.
"Google shares advanced 1.1 percent at 1:06 p.m. in New York trading."
The easiest way to understand what happened, here, is to look at it. Here's what Google search results looked like before the settlement:
Here's what they'll look like now — pay attention to the paid ads at the right:
Here's what local search looks like now:
Here's what it'll look like in the future — note the "alternatives" at the top: