Google has reached a settlement with the European Union that effectively ends an antitrust investigation that had been ongoing for more than three years. Under terms of the deal, Google agreed to alter the search results shown in Europe so that competitor's webpages are "clearly visible" when users look up specialized services such as lodging and restaurants. Going forward, European users will see services of three rivals in the same way that Google shows its own services.
The deal won't affect search results in the United States, The Washington Postreports. However, let's say a user in Europe looks up a gas grill (the example EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia shared during a news conference today). Two boxes would appear, one that shows Google Shopping results and another that's labeled "Alternatives."
According to Reuters, Google avoided what could have been up to a $5 billion fine, or 10 percent of its 2012 revenue, by inking this deal, which is valid for the next five years. That's the good news for Google. So what's the bad? The EU may still target Google in a second investigation, this one in relation to Android, though it's unclear exactly what regulators would be looking into.