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It's hard to believe, but smartphones barely existed ten years ago. People used feature phones, which had very basic functionality, and were a nightmare for developers. The only way to build apps was device by device and platform by platform—Google had a closet full of hundreds of phones that we tested one by one each time we wanted to launch new software.

Android was born from this frustration. We hoped that by offering a great, free open-source operating system, we could turbocharge innovation by allowing manufacturers and developers to focus on what they do best. At the time, most people thought this plan was nuts.

Fast forward to today. The pace of mobile innovation has never been greater. Smartphones are being adopted globally at an increasingly fast pace, with over hundreds of millions shipped each quarter, and the average smartphone price fell 23% between 2012 and 2014. It’s now possible to purchase a powerful smartphone, without subsidies or contracts, for under $100. And the app ecosystem has exploded, giving consumers more choice than ever before.

Android has been a key player in spurring this competition and choice, lowering prices and increasing choice for everyone (there are over 18,000 different devices available today);
  • It’s an open-source operating system that can be used free-of-charge by anyone—that’s right, literally anyone. And it’s not just phones. Today people are building almost anything with Android—including tablets, watches, TVs, cars, and more. Some Android devices use Google services, and others do not.
  • Our Google Play store contains over one million apps and we paid out over $7 billion in revenue over the past year to developers and content publishers.
  • Apps that compete directly with Google such as Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft Office, and Expedia are easily available to Android users. Indeed many of these apps come pre-loaded onto Android devices in addition to Google apps. The recent Samsung S6 is a great example of this, including pre-installed apps from Facebook, Microsoft, and Google.
  • Developers have a choice of platforms and over 80% of developers are building apps for several different mobile operating systems.
The European Commission has asked questions about our partner agreements. It's important to remember that these are voluntary—again, you can use Android without Google—but provide real benefits to Android users, developers and the broader ecosystem.

Anti-fragmentation agreements, for example, ensure apps work across all sorts of different Android devices. (After all, it would be pretty frustrating if an app you downloaded on one phone didn’t also work on your eventual replacement phone.) And our app distribution agreements make sure that people get a great "out of the box" experience with useful apps right there on the home screen (how many of us could get through our day without maps or email?). This also helps manufacturers of Android devices compete with Apple, Microsoft and other mobile ecosystems that come preloaded with similar baseline apps. And remember that these distribution agreements are not exclusive, and Android manufacturers install their own apps and apps from other companies as well. And in comparison to Apple—the world’s most profitable (mobile) phone company—there are far fewer Google apps pre-installed on Android phones than Apple apps on iOS devices.

We are thankful for Android’s success and we understand that with success comes scrutiny. But it's not just Google that has benefited from Android's success. The Android model has let manufacturers compete on their unique innovations. Developers can reach huge audiences and build strong businesses. And consumers now have unprecedented choice at ever-lower prices. We look forward to discussing these issues in more detail with the European Commission over the months ahead.

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In the summer of 2010, Google announced plans to acquire the flight search provider, ITA. As we said at the time, while many people buy their airline tickets online, finding the right flight at the best price can be a real hassle. Today Google Flight Search has made that much easier. Search for "Flight CDG to SFO" and you get the different options right there on the results page. It’s a great example of Google’s increasing ability to answer queries directly, saving people a lot of time and effort—because as Larry Page said over a decade ago “the perfect search engine should understand exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want."

At the time of the ITA acquisition, several online travel companies—Expedia, Kayak, and Travelocity--unsuccessfully lobbied regulators in the US and the European Union to block the deal, arguing that our ability to show flight options directly would siphon off their traffic and harm competition online. Four years later it’s clear their allegations of harm turned out to be untrue. As the Washington Post recently pointed out (in an article headed “Google Flight Search, four years in: not the competition-killer critics feared”) Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and Travelocity account for 95% of the US online travel market today. It’s a similar situation in Europe too, as this graph for Germany neatly shows:

Travel sites in Germany
Source: ComScore MMX and Google data (for Google), desktop traffic, unique visitors (‘000s)

We’ve seen similar allegations of harm from competitors in other areas. And the European Commission today confirmed that it is sending Google a Statement of Objections (SO) regarding the display and ranking of shopping results.

While Google may be the most used search engine, people can now find and access information in numerous different ways—and allegations of harm, for consumers and competitors, have proved to be wide of the mark.

More choice than ever before
In fact, people have more choice than ever before.

  • There are numerous other search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, Quora, DuckDuckGo and a new wave of search assistants like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.
  • In addition, there are a ton of specialized services like Amazon, Idealo, Le Guide, Expedia or eBay. For example, Amazon, eBay, and Axel Springer’s Idealo are the three most popular shopping services in Germany.
  • People are increasingly using social sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to find recommendations, such as where to eat, which movies to watch or how to decorate their homes.
  • When it comes to news, users have many ways to reach their favorite sites. For example, Bild gets more than 85% of its traffic from sources other than Google and other search engines.*

Of course mobile is changing things as well. Today 7 out of every 8 minutes on mobile devices is spent within apps—in other words consumers are going to whichever websites or apps serve them best. And they face no friction or costs in switching between them. Yelp, for example, has told investors they get over 40% of their searches direct from their mobile apps.* So while in many ways it’s flattering to be described as a gatekeeper, the facts don’t actually bear that out.

Thriving competition online
Which brings me to the competition. Companies like Axel Springer, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and Yelp (all vociferous complainants in this process) have alleged that Google’s practice of including our specialized results (Flight Search, Maps, Local results, etc.) in search has significantly harmed their businesses. But their traffic, revenues and profits (as well as the pitch they make to investors) tell a very different story.

  • Yelp calls itself the “de facto local search engine” and has seen revenue growth of over 350% in the last four years.
  • TripAdvisor claims to be the Web’s largest travel brand and has nearly doubled its revenues in the last four years.
  • Expedia has grown its revenues by more than 67% over the same period—and recently told investors: “We're seeing increased traffic coming through Google Hotel Finder. It is ­clearly getting more exposure. And in general … the product continues to improve. And Google has invested in it, we'll continue to invest in it … From our standpoint, we're happy to play in any market that Google puts out there and over a long period of time, we have proven an ability to get our fair share in the Google marketplaces.” (Remarkable given their complaints.)
  • Axel Springer continues to invest in search, including the French search engine Qwant, because as the company told investors, “there is a lot of innovation on the search market.”

Indeed if you look at shopping—an area where we have seen a lot of complaints and where the European Commission has focused in its Statement of Objections—it’s clear that (a) there’s a ton of competition (including from Amazon and eBay, two of the biggest shopping sites in the world) and (b) Google’s shopping results have not harmed the competition. Take a look at these graphs:

Shopping Sites in Germany (unique visitors, ‘000s)

Shopping Sites in France (unique visitors, ‘000s)

Shopping Sites in the UK (unique visitors, ‘000s)


Any economist would say that you typically do not see a ton of innovation, new entrants or investment in sectors where competition is stagnating—or dominated by one player. Yet that is exactly what’s happening in our world. Zalando, the German shopping site, went public in 2014 in one of Europe’s biggest-ever tech IPOs. Companies like Facebook, Pinterest and Amazon have been investing in their own search services and search engines like Quixey, DuckDuckGo and Qwant have attracted new funding. We’re seeing innovation in voice search and the rise of search assistants—with even more to come.

It’s why we respectfully but strongly disagree with the need to issue a Statement of Objections and look forward to making our case over the weeks ahead.



*Update: An earlier version of this post quoted traffic figures for Bild and The Guardian, researched on a third-party site. The Guardian data were for the domain guardian.co.uk, which is no longer the main domain for the paper. We’ve removed these references and we’re sorry for the error. Yelp has pointed out that they get 40% of their searches (not their traffic) direct from their mobile apps. They don’t appear to disclose their traffic numbers. We’re happy to correct the record.

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Data journalists from all over the world have until midnight BST tomorrow (10 April) to submit their work to the Data Journalism Awards: the largest international competition recognising excellence in the field. The competition is organised by the Global Editors Network: a cross-platform community of editors-in-chief and media innovators committed to high-quality journalism.

Supported by Google and Knight Foundation, the Data Journalism Awards are a fantastic opportunity for media innovators to showcase their work, and the prizes are worth €1,500 each. Previous winners include The New York Times, La Nacion, Kiln and Detective.io, as well as individuals such as Chad Skelton:

The #DJA2015 awards will recognise the best work in 10 categories:
  • Data visualisation of the year
  • Investigation of the year
  • News data app of the year
  • Data journalism website of the year
  • Best individual portfolio
  • Best use of data in a breaking news story
  • Open data award
  • Best entry from a small newsroom
  • General excellence (jurors’ choice and public choice).

It’s easy to enter on the GEN Community website, where can explore last year’s winners and short-listed projects, as well as this year’s entrants

The winners will be announced during a gala dinner at the Global Editors Network Summit in Barcelona on June 18. Good luck!

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Since growing up near Ulm, Germany, close to where the Danube begins its epic journey from The Black Forest southeast to the Black Sea, I’ve been captivated by the majesty of the river we knew as Donau. The Danube has woven countries and cultures together for thousands of years; it has been a catalyst for economic development, a pathway for migration, and an inspiration for works of art and classical music.

Starting today, you can cruise this international waterway with Street View in Google Maps, sailing through six countries, three capitals, and enjoying many arresting landscapes along the way. To capture the imagery, the Trekker was mounted on the riverboat ms Treasures, operated by Tauck, and Scylla, its maritime partner, for cruises along the Danube and other European rivers.

Your virtual boat ride begins in Bratislava, Slovakia, where at the top of the hill, you can see Bratislava Castle. Originally settled during the Bronze Age (around 3500 BC), the castle remains a dominant sight in the area, fixed at a crucial trade point on the Danube.


Steering the ship through Hungary, the shoreline is crowded with sights of downtown Budapest. Whether you’re gazing at the famous Chain Bridge by night or the Hungarian parliament by day, the views from the boat dock will not disappoint.


On the riverbank of Croatia sits Vukovar, an old baroque city with breathtaking architecture. The Franciscan Monastery and the Church of St. Philip and Jacob overlook the city, peering down at the waters of the Danube.

The natural landscapes along the Danube and the views of the river itself may be the real highlight of the journey—try drifting through the Cazanele Mari area in Romania, where more than a third of the Danube’s waterways weave, or the Krcedinska Ada area in Serbia, where the water seems to come alive with reflections from the sky above and the terrain on either side of the riverway.


Then onwards to Bulgaria, where the Danube acts as a bordering line with neighboring Romania. The bridges that connect Bulgaria and Romania are believed to be among the shortest ways to reach Western Europe from the East.


Growing up close to the drainage basin of this great river, whenever I visit a city along the Danube it’s easy to feel connected not just to my hometown but also to everything in between. That’s why I find it even more exciting to connect all the pieces on Street View, follow the river all the way, and see what a grown-up and majestic river “my” little Danube from Ulm becomes when it flows into the Black Sea.

Hopefully you too will enjoy this journey down the Danube on Street View in Google Maps.

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When we opened Campus London in 2012, right in the heart of Tech City, we wanted to offer founders and startups a support network, education, mentoring and more. And most of all, we wanted to provide a physical space so that the startup community could gather, work together and grow.

So we’re delighted that in just three short years, 41,000 people have joined our community, from old hands to first timers, investors to founders, designers to developers and doers. As the London startup scene accelerates in pace, so does the community; in 2014 alone, startups within the Campus London network created over 1,200 jobs and raised over £41 million in capital, doubling the growth from 2013 and demonstrating strong ecosystem health.
Campus London’s meeting spaces have had a clear impact too. For example, Give Me Tap, a recent Y Combinator graduate, was conceived in the Campus Cafe because founder Edwin was trying to drink enough water to hone his stomach into a rippling six-pack. Coffee Labs, a connection platform built around coffee, aims to help others have the same kind of serendipitous encounters that its founders were having inside Campus. And Code Club has now outgrown the Campus cafe and become a nationwide network that’s inspiring thousands of kids to create through code.

The Campus Community is increasingly diverse and inclusive - in London it now includes 29% women - that’s a 9% increase in just one year. There’s more to be done but, with Women @ Campus providing networking and inspirational talks, and 110 graduates of baby-friendly startup school Campus for Mums, we hope to inspire even more women to become entrepreneurs.
Our education programmes, including mentoring from Google staff, are a key part of the Campus offering. In 2014, we provided over 1,100 hours of mentoring; enabling our startups to get one-to-one advice on anything from marketing to software development, and training on Google products like Analytics.

Campus London is part of a growing global network of startup communities. Campus Tel Aviv launched in 2012, and in coming months, we’re launching four more, with Campus Seoul opening in a few weeks and Madrid, Sao Paulo and Warsaw coming later this year.

The opportunities for startups in our network are not limited to Campus buildings. As part of our wider Google for Entrepreneurs network, founders and entrepreneurs are able to tap into a broad range of programs and networks. Our Campus Exchange program brings together six startups from around the world for an intensive week of mentoring and networking.

As we launch new Campus sites, we want to connect the dots and empower founders in these locations to inspire each other and grow - locally, and globally.

Here’s to year four!

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Just in time for spring vacation planning, Street View imagery of Greece has arrived in Google Maps. Starting today, travelers can get an immersive look at the Greek landscape, unveiling some of the country’s major cities, tourist destinations, cultural and historic sites, and natural landscapes. Collected with the the Street View Trekker, a wearable backpack with a camera system on top, this imagery allows potential tourists to virtually walk through the mountainous and winding pathways of Greece, enticing them to visit in person.

This imagery update is part of Google’s commitment to help the Greek tourism sector grow, bringing more local content online as part of the Grow Greek Tourism Online initiative, which provides Greek tourism entrepreneurs free trainings and online tools to grow their business throughout the year.

To get a glimpse of some of the country’s highlights, travelers can begin their Greek journey at Meteora, which literally translates to “middle of the sky.” This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the largest and most important complexes of Greek Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos.

Then tourists can enjoy the view of Athens from Lycabettus hill. According to Greek mythology, the Goddess Athena dropped this mountain in surprise after hearing bad news from a raven. No matter its origin, the vistas are a beautiful place to enjoy the warm, Greek sun above and the urban landscape below.

Next, travelers can cruise to a lagoon called Balos off the coast of Crete. This islet forms part of a cape through the lagoon called Cap Tigani (which means "frying pan" in Greek).

Continuing their exploration of Crete, tourists can also traverse the Samaria Gorge, a National Park and a World's Biosphere Reserve, with a length of 18 km.

This is just a sample of all the wonderful views available now in Street View in Google Maps. To explore more of the collection, view this Greek gallery.

And businesses can also benefit from Street View technology by embedding Google Maps directly into their website for free, helping to promote these locations -- whether it’s a hotel chain, tourist destinations or a local library, museum or restaurant.

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Digital skills are crucial to Europe’s future growth and success. We know that the current skills gap will only grow with up to 900,000 jobs going unfilled in 2020. This matters because it prevents businesses from taking new orders, building new products and offering additional services to their customers. It is a real dampener to growth.

That’s why Google is committed to helping more Europeans acquire these essential digital skills. And it’s why we’re proud to be part of the European Commission’s Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs. Today, at the Net Futures 2015 event, we updated our pledge to the Coalition, and included our recent commitment to train up to 1 million Europeans by 2016.


In 2013 when we signed up, we committed to help 20,000 entrepreneurs, train up to 100,000 school children in computer science and build links with universities. We have already outgrown our ambitions. We organized hundreds of events, reaching tens of thousands of entrepreneurs. By the end of 2014, we had reached over a million school children. Finally, we launched 25+ open online courses in collaboration with universities across Europe, focusing on the themes of maths, computer science, entrepreneurship, digital marketing and law.

And we’re continuing to train Europeans and their businesses. This year for instance, we expect to reach 50,000 entrepreneurs directly in our three Google campuses - in London, Warsaw and Madrid - and through our partnerships with The Factory in Berlin and NUMA in Paris. Also, we want to grow our partnerships. Last year, our partners Startup Weekend and Startup Grind held events in 32 and 20 countries in Europe respectively and our Google for Entrepreneurs Week took place in 14 countries. This is a huge testament to the enthusiasm that is out there. We’re excited to see what this year will bring. 

As we announced last month, we are also doubling down on our investment in helping small and medium sized businesses through our Growth Engine campaigns. Our initiatives already include Weltweit Wachsen in Germany, focusing on exports; Activate in Spain, where we are helping unemployed people get back to work by training them on web development, digital marketing and e-commerce; Made in Italy, where we are supporting Italian craftsmanship by showing them how to trade their wares online; Google Pour les Pros in France where we support SMEs via meetings at their shops, train them on digital skills and match them with young graduates, and Digital Garage, where we will offer face to face training to small businesses in five UK cities.

We believe in young people too. Our computer science education programme will work with seven STEM and computer science education organisations this year, to deliver training to 100,000 young people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnic minorities as well as girls in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, Hungary and Romania.


Working together to ensure entrepreneurial minds are equipped with the skills they need, remains central to our commitment to Europe.


Posted by: Matt Brittin, President, EMEA Business and Operations, Google