For the better part of 15 years, Google has seemed like an unstoppable force, powered by the strength of its online search engine and digital advertising business. But both now look increasingly vulnerable.
This week, the Justice Department accused Google of running an illegal monopoly in its online advertising business and called for parts of it to be broken up. The case comes a couple of years after the Trump administration filed a similar suit going after the tech giant’s dominance in search.
Google said the Justice Department is “doubling down on a flawed argument” and that the latest suit “attempts to pick winners and losers in the highly competitive advertising technology sector.” If successful, however, both blockbuster cases could upend a business model that’s made Google the most powerful advertising company on the internet. It would be the most consequential antitrust victory against a tech giant since the US government took on Microsoft more than 20 years ago.
But even though the lawsuits drive at the heart of Google’s revenue machine, they could take years to play out. In the meantime, two other thorny issues are poised to determine Google’s future on a potentially shorter timeframe: The rise of generative artificial intelligence and what appears to be an accelerating decline in Google’s online ad marketshare.
Just days before the DOJ suit, Google announced plans to cut 12,000 employees amid a dramatic slowdown in its revenue growth, and as it works to refocus its efforts partly around AI.
A new threat to search
Google has long been synonymous with online searches; it was one of the first modern tech companies whose name would become a verb. But a new threat emerged late last year when OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research company, publicly released a viral new AI chatbot tool called ChatGPT.