Google Mobile Media

Some say that Google penalizes publishers that do not use AMP by ranking their links lower than others in search results, an accusation the tech company denies. For others increasingly reliant on the digital tool, there’s a growing frustration that Google imposes tough restrictions on the type of online advertising displayed on mobile pages via AMP, curbing much-needed revenue for websites.

“There is a sense in which AMP is a Google-built version of the web,”

Already confronted with a series of antitrust charges, Google, according to its corporate rivals, is doubling down on its online dominance with technologies like AMP that, in their view, crowd competitors out of the mobile internet. The technology already provides, on average, roughly one-fifth of mobile traffic to sites that use it, according to ChartBeat, a data provider.

“People aren’t served well when one entity has a stronghold on users’ data or dominance on a particular platform,” said Denelle Dixon, chief operating officer of Mozilla Corporation, a competitor to Google in some online services. That approach, she continued, risks affecting “competitive dynamics” online.

Google competition troubles

Google’s rivals frequently grumble to investigators in Brussels and national capitals about AMP, which is open source, but mostly controlled by the tech company. In response to these informal complaints, competition authorities have not signaled whether there are grounds to open yet another front in Europe’s already intense, and lengthy, antitrust standoff with the search giant. A spokesman for the Commission declined to comment.

Google denies that AMP gives it too much sway over the mobile web. As it is viewed as a so-called dominant company under EU competition rules, following a previous Commission’s antitrust ruling against the company last year, the search giant must now tread carefully when expanding its digital empire for fear of sanctions.

Outreach to old media

When Google first released AMP, its aim was twofold: to woo publishers and ward off Facebook, its main competitor.

Media companies, mainly in Europe, had spent years lobbying local lawmakers that Google unfairly drove traffic away from their sites. In response, the search giant teamed up with many of these publishers to develop AMP in the hopes of winning over skeptics whose close ties to politicians could harm its online empire.

The technology allows publishers’ mobile sites to be stored in Google’s own servers and preloaded on individuals’ smartphones, significantly reducing lag time when people are surfing the mobile web on patchy cellphone networks.