Tech Retrospect: Google gets the EU antitrust treatment

Is Google abusing its position as the world's most popular search engine? Also, if you're hoping to walk into an Apple store and buy a Watch next week, we have some bad news. All that and more in your look back at the week in tech.

Tim Stevens Former editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
Tim Stevens
4 min read

Consider it something of a badge of honor, a right of passage, a sign of success. Being accused of abusing your power as a market leader by the member states of the European Union is something that has happened to many a powerhouse American tech firm. Microsoft most famously fell afoul of the EU's rules, paying hundreds of millions of euros in fines for various transgressions including making Windows Media Player the default media playback app in Windows. The horror!

Now it's Google getting the same attention, first for prioritizing its own shopping results ahead of those from the competition. According to the charge, the Amazons of the world don't stand a chance. It's easy to see that this happens, just try googling any product you like and you'll see retail listings right at the top of the page. The same happens in Google Now, which is also getting smarter about travel recommendations. According to the EU's commission, this is symptomatic of Google unfairly treating its competitors.

Google was quick to respond, publishing a flurry of charts showing that it is not hindering its competitors. In fact, according to Google, the market is healthier and more competitive than ever.

And then there's the Android side of the equation. The question is also being raised about whether Google's pre-installed apps are damaging to the competitive landscape. That's enough to give you flashbacks of the Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player verdicts of years past, but as our Richard Nieva points out, the comparison isn't quite so clear.

What comes next remains to be seen, but there's already been plenty of talk of massive fines. Additionally, it's safe to assume that, should Google lose big abroad, it'll face redoubled scrutiny here at home. With any luck Google with concede and allow people to opt out of its own prioritized search results and this whole thing will blow over. But between this and the " right to be forgotten" antics of last year, participating in the European tech sector is getting more complicated than ever.

In-store Apple Watch sales not likely until June

James Martin/CNET

Put away your camping gear and cancel that day-off request for April 24. If you were looking forward to an overnight adventure ahead of buying a new Apple Watch next week your hopes are about to be dashed. Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts says that watches won't be available for sale in stores until sometime in June. It'll be online-only until then.

Lower-cost Surface 3 reviewed

Watch this: New Microsoft Surface 3 cuts the price, keeps the killer keyboard

I've always been a fan of the Surface devices, even if they've never quite fit into my lifestyle. Thin and light and powerful, they have a strong and distinctive design that's set them apart from the fleet of me-too tablets out there. However, they've never been good enough to replace my laptop, and always too expensive to purchase just as a tablet.

Microsoft Surface 3 (pictures)

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Well, the new Surface 3 helps in that latter regard, with Microsoft bringing the price down to $499 for a device running full-fat Windows 8.1 (not Windows RT like its predecessor). Its Atom CPU means it isn't the snappiest, however, and the extra $129 (£110 or AU$180) for the keyboard cover does put you back up into laptop territory again.

New MacBook proves difficult to repair

Sarah Tew / CNET

Progress always comes at a cost, dear readers, and in the case of the 2015 MacBook, the cost for having such a svelte machine has a few facets. First is performance, which we noted in our review, but thanks to iFixIt's tear-down this week, we now know that repairability also takes a hit. Thanks to details like proprietary screws, soldered-in memory and glued-in batteries, the unit earns a repairability score of just 1 out of 10. Better not drop it, then.

Guitar Hero comes back for an encore


If you're a gamer, I'm willing to bet you have some number of silly plastic instruments stuffed in a closet or attic somewhere -- unless you wisely sold them off when the virtual band craze started to wane. Activision Blizzard wants to bring it back for something of a reunion tour, with a reboot of the iconic Guitar Hero franchise. The basic formula stays the same, but a big change now is a shift away from the roving, third-person cameras to a first-person view meant to make you feel like you're there. A greater focus on online play should also help make this aging rocker a little more hip, but I confess I'm a bit skeptical that it still has what it takes to wow modern audiences.

SpaceX rocket's spectacular missed landing

Between the new "="" trailer"="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="383416e3-8d4d-4059-9242-c5ca771d4c76" slug="star-wars-force-awakens-new-trailer-teaser" link-text="" section="news" title="'Chewie, we're home': New 'Force Awakens' trailer lands" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"383416e3-8d4d-4059-9242-c5ca771d4c76","slug":"star-wars-force-awakens-new-trailer-teaser","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"culture"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Culture","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> and the leak of the ""="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="9fc29cd2-f746-41dc-a48a-354cdccfc9fb" slug="batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice-trailer-leaks-early" link-text="" section="news" title="'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' trailer officially debuts after leak" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"9fc29cd2-f746-41dc-a48a-354cdccfc9fb","slug":"batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice-trailer-leaks-early","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"culture"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Culture","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> trailer, there's been no shortage of explosive things to watch on the Internet this week. My favorite video, however, is this footage of SpaceX's CRS-6 first-stage rocket trying really, really hard to touch down safely on its drone ship landing pad. Sadly, as you'll see, it didn't quite make it.