A French court has fined Google whopping US$ 660,000 for providing Google Maps for free to businesses in France, because the complainant; a French Mapping Company, Bottin Cartographes, charges a fee and thus saw Google’s free service as predatory and anti-competitive and thus filed a case against it in the French Court and won! (You can read more about it here)
While the court ruling sounds silly to say the least and majority of the people seem to be opposing or laughing at the French Court verdict, it is surprising to say the least, that when Microsoft was prosecuted by the European Union for bundling Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer in Windows, almost everyone was welcoming the move!
I know Google isn’t Microsoft, but at the end of the day, every company exists to make profit and it isn’t too far fetch of an idea to imagine Google someday actually charging for some or all of the services or at least for the premium variants of the services it provides for free right now (which it has already started doing with Email and Apps).
So if European Union verdict was right, then why isn’t the French one?
Guess it has a lot to do with the fact that Microsoft is seen as evil by quite a few techies and Google for the most part, isn’t! Add to that, people and techies alike, use Google Maps and love them because they are good and free and would want them to remain that way.
In any case, I really do hope that such stupid verdicts (dependent upon perception of what might happen in future) being delivered by the so called anti-completive Courts are not only frowned upon by the society at large (irrespective of whom it is delivered against), but also struck down in due course of time to ensure that end users can take benefit of free services and at the same time, force the companies who wish to charge for their services, to actually think outside the box and innovate to justify their often hefty price tag!