Europeans Use Google Way, Way More Than Americans Do

Google's huge market share is part of what strengthens the EU's antitrust case.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

It sure seems like Europe isn’t fond of Google.

On Tuesday, the European Union’s antitrust commissioner formally charged the company with monopolistic behavior, alleging that it gives Google products a more favorable position in search results and prioritizes them in its Android operating system.

But the continent’s antitrust board can make such a complaint because, by one metric, Europeans actually love Google more than web users in the United States.

In most EU member countries, Google controls more than 90 percent of the search market. Sometimes, it controls much more: In Belgium, Germany, and Finland, it can claim more than 97 percent of all search engine use, according to a 2010 report by marketing research firm PTG Media.

By some measures, that’s some 30 percent more of the search market than Google controls in its home country. Estimates about Google market share in the United States put it between 67 and 75 percent of the search market.

The difference? Bing—the product of Microsoft, another American software company that’s been the target of the continent’s ire. Bing nets between a fifth and a quarter of the U.S. search market. (I guess all that Gossip Girl product placement worked.)

Most of these statistics don’t reliably include mobile searches. That may have an even more distorting affect, as Google’s Android operating system is used by almost 75 percent of the EU smartphone market.

And it’s these dominant proportions which make Europe’s case possible. The European antitrust commission even alludes to the 90 percent figure in its press release.