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Google, Justice Department Make Final Arguments About Whether Search Engine Is A Monopoly

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Washington — Google’s dominance as an internet search engine is an illegal monopoly supported by the tech giant’s annual spending of more than $20 billion to lock out competition, Justice Department lawyers contended after a high-stakes antitrust case.

Conversely, Google claims its success stems from its quality and capacity to offer the results that customers seek.

The United States government, a coalition of states, and Google all submitted their closing arguments in the 10-week lawsuit to U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, who must now rule whether Google violated the law by preserving a monopoly status in search.

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Google, Justice Department Make Final Arguments About Whether Search Engine Is A Monopoly

Much of the lawsuit, the largest antitrust trial in over two decades, has focused on how much Google’s strength stems from partnerships with firms such as Apple to make Google the default search engine preloaded on iPhones and laptops.

At trial, evidence revealed that Google spends over $20 billion annually on such contracts. According to Justice Department lawyers, the large payment demonstrates how crucial it is for Google to establish itself as the default search engine and prevent competitors from gaining a foothold.

Google says that clients can readily switch to other search engines if they choose but always prefer Google. Companies like Apple testified at trial that they work with Google because they believe its search engine is superior.

Google also claims that the government defines the search engine market too narrowly. While it has a commanding lead over rival general search engines such as Bing and Yahoo, Google claims it faces even more fierce competition when customers conduct focused searches. For example, the internet titan claims buyers are more inclined to search for things on Amazon than Google, vacation planners may search on AirBnB, and hungry eaters may search for a restaurant on Yelp.

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Google, Justice Department Make Final Arguments About Whether Search Engine Is A Monopoly

Google has also stated that social media businesses such as Facebook and TikTok are formidable competitors.

During Friday’s discussions, Mehta questioned if some other companies were in the same market. He explained that social media companies can make ad money by presenting advertising that fits consumers’ interests. However, he stated that Google has the potential to display advertising in front of users in direct response to inquiries they enter.

“It’s only Google where we can see that directly declared intent,” Mehta said.

Google’s attorney, John Schmidtlein, responded that social media companies “have lots and lots of information about your interests, which I would say is just as powerful.”

The corporation has also said its market dominance is precarious as the internet constantly reinvents itself. Earlier in the trial, it was shown that many experts previously believed that Yahoo would always remain dominating in search. It was reported that younger tech users sometimes refer to Google as “Grandpa Google.”

While Google’s search services are free for customers, the business makes money from searches by selling adverts that appear alongside a user’s search results.

During Friday’s remarks, Justice Department attorney David Dahlquist stated that Google could raise ad income by increasing the number of inquiries submitted until around 2015, when inquiry growth stagnated, and they needed to make more money per search.

The government claims that Google’s search engine monopoly enables it to charge unduly high fees for advertising, which eventually trickle down to consumers.

“Price increases should be limited by competition,” Dahlquist stated. “It should be the market deciding what the price increases are.”

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Google, Justice Department Make Final Arguments About Whether Search Engine Is A Monopoly

According to Dahlquist, internal Google records demonstrate that the business, without any meaningful competition, began altering its ad algorithms to occasionally offer customers with inferior search ad results to raise income.

Schmidtlein, Google’s lawyer, stated that the record demonstrates that its search ads have become more effective and useful to customers, rising from a 10% click rate to 30%.

Mehta has yet to say when he will rule, although it is expected to take many months.

If he decides that Google breached the law, he will set up a “remedies” phase of the trial to assess what should be done to increase competition in the search engine industry. The administration has yet to state what type of remedy it will pursue.

SOURCE – (AP

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Boeing Whistleblower Died By Suicide, Police Investigation Reveals

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Boeing whistleblower John Barnett committed suicide, according to a police report released on Friday, bringing an investigation into the shocking death of a longtime employee who raised concerns about the airplane manufacturer’s safety and production standards – and who sued the company, alleging illegal retaliation against him.

Barnett, 62, was discovered dead in a vehicle on March 9 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Charleston, South Carolina. Officers were summoned to perform a welfare check on Barnett at a Holiday Inn after he failed to appear for a deposition in his complaint against Boeing, according to his lawyers and a police incident report.

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Boeing Whistleblower Died By Suicide, Police Investigation Reveals

When responding officers arrived, they discovered Barnett deceased in the driver’s seat of a truck in the parking lot. He was clutching a firearm. The initial police report also stated a message in the truck.

However, in a statement released after his death, Barnett’s lawyers stated that his deposition was nearing completion and that he appeared to be in high spirits.

“We saw no sign that he would commit suicide. “No one can believe it,” his attorneys, Robert Turkewitz and Brian Knowles, stated in a statement on March 12. “The Charleston police need to investigate this fully and accurately and tell the public what they find out.”

The Charleston Police Department announced Friday that the Charleston County Coroner’s Office had decided that Barnett had committed suicide.

The inquiry revealed that Barnett was shot in the head at close range, with the firearm located in his right hand. A notebook was also discovered in the front seat of the car, indicating that “he was going through a period of serious personal distress,” according to a police press statement.

Police provided CNN with a photograph of a note left in the car, which had several nasty statements addressed at Boeing.

“As this investigation comes to a close, we should not forget it represents the loss of Mr. Barnett’s life,” police stated. “We extend our deepest sympathies to his family during this difficult time and hope they continue to find the strength to persevere in absence.”

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Boeing Whistleblower Died By Suicide, Police Investigation Reveals

Boeing did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In March, the firm expressed its sadness at Barnett’s death.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends,” the business stated.

Barnett, a former quality manager who had worked at Boeing for decades, told the New York Times in 2019 that he had uncovered dangerous wiring clusters in Boeing’s manufacturing procedures that could have resulted in an aircraft’s catastrophic failure if severed by surrounding metal slivers.

“As a quality manager at Boeing, you’re the last line of defense before a defect makes it out to the flying public,” Barnett told the New York Times. “And I haven’t seen a plane out of Charleston yet that I’d put my name on saying it’s safe and airworthy.”

In a message issued to the facility’s employees and sent to CNN at the time, Brad Zaback, a site leader at the plant and general manager of the 787 program, stated that the Times’ coverage “paints a skewed and inaccurate picture of the program and of our team (at the plant).”

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Boeing Whistleblower Died By Suicide, Police Investigation Reveals

Zaback, who said the Times denied an invitation to tour the company, stated that “quality is the bedrock of who we are” and that the plant produces “the highest-quality airplanes.”

Since Barnett’s original public warnings about Boeing, the corporation has had multiple high-profile safety and quality issues, including the explosion of a door stopper on a 737 Max shortly after takeoff last January. This prompted the US Justice Department to announce that Boeing could face criminal charges for its history of safety issues.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Bike Shops Boomed Early In The Pandemic. It’s Been A Bumpy Ride For Most Ever Since

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For the nation’s bicycle stores, the last several years have certainly felt like the business version of the Tour de France, with innumerable twists and turns testing their stamina.

Early in the pandemic, a surge in interest in cycling drove sales up 64% to $5.4 billion in 2020, according to Circana, the retail tracking firm. It wasn’t uncommon for some stores to sell 100 or more bikes in a few days.

The boom did not last. Due to pandemic-related supply chain challenges, the retailers sold out of bikes and struggled to replenish. Inventory has caught up, but fewer people require new bicycles. Bicycle manufacturers have started lowering prices to clear off excess inventory. It all adds up to a challenging climate for retailers, with a few bright areas such as dirt and e-bikes.

“The industry had a hard time keeping up with demand for a couple of years, but then demand slowed as the lockdowns ended, and a lot of inventory started showing up,” said Stephen Frothingham, editor-in-chief of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News. “So now for the last, a year and a half, the industry has struggled with having too much inventory, at the supplier level, at the factory level, at the distributor level, at the retail level.”

Circana reports that bike sales will reach $4.1 billion in 2023, up 23% from 2019 but down 24% from 2020. The recovery from the epidemic has been uneven, with large businesses such as REI and Scheels recovering faster than independent bike shops, according to Matt Tucker, director of client development for Circana’s sports equipment business.

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Bike Shops Boomed Early In The Pandemic. It’s Been A Bumpy Ride For Most Ever Since

John McDonell, owner of Market Street Cycles on San Francisco’s famed Market Street, says the pandemic’s shift to hybrid labor has been especially difficult for business. During the summer, 3,000 bikes would pass by his shop each day. With fewer individuals commuting to work, that number has dropped to less than 1,000.

According to Pacer.ai, which tracks people’s activities based on smartphone usage, San Francisco falls behind all other major cities regarding workers returning to work, with office visits down 49% from April 2019.

“Our downtown is still a wasteland,” McDonell explained.

Independent bike stores now compete not only with national chains but also with bike manufacturers such as Specialized and Trek. These companies have been buying bike shops and selling their bikes directly to customers, thus eliminating the middleman. According to Frothingham, there are now over 1,000 bike shops in the country that are either owned by Trek or Specialized.

“They’ve got the money to absorb the fact that bike stores, you know, are not a super profitable thing, and in the process, they’ve also been able to cut us out of it,” McDonell stated.

McDonell has been obliged to use a skeleton team of himself and another employee, down from five earlier. His desire to sell his shop to a younger bike enthusiast when he retires is diminishing. He might close his store when his lease expires in a few years.

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Bike Shops Boomed Early In The Pandemic. It’s Been A Bumpy Ride For Most Ever Since

“Now I am just trying to land it with both engines on fire and trying not to lose money on my way out,” he stated

Douglas Emerson’s bike business, University Bicycles, in Boulder, Colorado, is doing better, thanks to its placement in one of the country’s most popular biking destinations. He’s owned the shop for 39 years and employs 30 people.

University Bicycles, like other bike retailers, experienced a surge in bike sales due to the pandemic. Emerson recalls selling 107 bicycles in 48 hours. However, immediately following the boom, sales fell considerably due to a lack of inventory, and rentals declined because no one was traveling.

“It became a struggle right after the boom,” Emerson explained. “Since then, manufacturers have overproduced.” In addition, they have significantly reduced prices, which benefits consumers. However, tiny retailers generally cannot take advantage of those discounts.”

Emerson claims the shop hit a “saturation point” when everyone who wanted a bike purchased one. He now sells these consumer items such as jackets, helmets, and locks. His store has returned to its 2019 sales figures.

University Bicycles has also benefited from some of the changes in purchasing trends. The continued strong demand for e-bikes and the increased need for children’s bikes have contributed. Gravel bikes, which can be ridden on both paved and dirt routes, are displacing road cycles as a top seller.

John Ruger, a 50-year biker and faithful University Bicycles client, hasn’t purchased a bike in ten years but intends to buy a gravel bike at present costs. He says a top gravel bike he’s interested in, which would normally cost $12,000 to $14,000, is presently on sale for $8,000.

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Bike Shops Boomed Early In The Pandemic. It’s Been A Bumpy Ride For Most Ever Since

“The timing is good,” he remarked. “I can get a bike now because they’re less expensive and my bikes are getting old.”

Shawna Williams, the owner of Free Range Cycles in Seattle, Washington, did not see the same sales boom as others because her 700-square-foot business was so small that she only accepted customers by appointment from March 2020 to May 2021.

However, Williams did have to deal with the coming shortages. She spent a great deal of time “checking in with other shops to see if we could buy something, even at retail, from them, just in order to get a repair done or a build done.”

She expanded her service offerings, such as repairs and maintenance, to compensate for decreasing bike sales. Despite the epidemic, the maneuvering allowed her to maintain consistent overall sales.

“Bike sales, the way that I have kind of framed the shop, are an awesome bonus, but we really need to be sustaining the shop through repair and, like, thoughtful accessory sales,” Williams stated. “A bike sale to me, if we do things well, that means creating a customer for life.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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OpenAI, Reddit Teaming In Deal That Will Bring Reddit’s Content To ChatGPT

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OpenAI and Reddit have partnered to deliver the social media platform’s content to ChatGPT.

Reddit’s share price increased by more than 10% before the market opened on Friday.

Reddit stated in a blog post that the partnership will grant OpenAI access to its data application programming interface, which provides real-time, structured, and unique content from the platform.

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OpenAI, Reddit Teaming In Deal That Will Bring Reddit’s Content To ChatGPT

Reddit users and moderators will also have access to new artificial intelligence-powered services, and OpenAI will be a Reddit advertising partner.

“Reddit has become one of the internet’s largest open archives of authentic, relevant, and always up-to-date human conversations about anything and everything,” co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman stated. “Including it in ChatGPT upholds our belief in a connected internet, helps people find more of what they’re looking for, and helps new audiences find community on Reddit.”

Reddit stated that the agreement is consistent with prior content arrangements and does not modify its data API or developer rules. These rules state that content obtained via Reddit’s data API cannot be utilized for commercial reasons without the platform’s approval.

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OpenAI, Reddit Teaming In Deal That Will Bring Reddit’s Content To ChatGPT

Reddit says API access remains free for non-commercial use under the published level.

“We are thrilled to partner with Reddit to enhance ChatGPT with uniquely timely and relevant information, as well as to explore the possibilities of enriching the Reddit experience with AI-powered features,” Brad Lightcap, OpenAI’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.

Reddit made its Wall Street debut in March, with investors driving the company’s worth to nearly $9 billion seconds after it started trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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OpenAI, Reddit Teaming In Deal That Will Bring Reddit’s Content To ChatGPT

Reddit has a sizable audience that visits the site regularly to debate a wide range of topics, from stupid memes to existential concerns, and receive suggestions from like-minded individuals.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman invested in Reddit early on, becoming one of the company’s largest owners.

SOURCE – (AP)

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