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Google executive testifies innovation key to avoid becoming ‘next road kill’

The logo of Google is seen at the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France, June 14, 2023. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Prabhakar Raghavan, an official at Google, discussed the difficulties the search and advertising behemoth confronts from smaller competitors on Thursday, outlining steps the company is taking to prevent becoming “the next road kill.”

In the lawsuit initiated by the U.S. Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general, claiming Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O) Google unlawfully exploited its dominance in the search engine industry to preserve monopolistic power, Raghavan testified during the ongoing antitrust trial.

When questioned about a 1998 article regarding Yahoo!’s hegemony in search at the time, Raghavan said he was aware of rivals vying for customers’ attention, including Expedia.com, Instagram, and TikTok.

Reporting to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Raghavan is a senior vice president. “I feel a keen sense not to become the next road kill,” he remarked.

According to Raghavan, Google employs over 8,000 engineers and product managers, of whom roughly 1,000 are focused on search quality.

Raghavan’s account of Google’s battle to remain relevant contrasted with the Justice Department’s portrayal of a massive corporation that violated antitrust laws to maintain its hegemony over online search and certain aspects of advertising, including paying roughly $10 billion a year to wireless carriers and smartphone manufacturers to be the default search engine on devices. Google uses almost 90% of search engines.

Raghavan stated that Google was up against various rivals, including specialist search engines like Expedia.com and generic search engines like Microsoft’s Bing. He listed Amazon.com as one of the businesses he was most concerned about competing with.

According to him, searches on social networking applications and the video-sharing software TikTok have become more common among young people. “Where young people go, older people follow,” he stated.

When asked if he has heard the term “Grandpa Google,” Raghavan said, “Unfortunately, yes.” “Grandpa Google will help with things like homework, but when it comes to interesting things, they go elsewhere,” he stated.

The experiment is scheduled to end in mid-November, having started in September.

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