Antitrust and Google: Under the Microscope
Posted by repplinger
While Google enjoys over 62% of the search engine foot traffic, it increasingly becomes a target of suspicion for antitrust regulation. Google had grown to be the most favorite and consequently the most prominent search engine online. So why is there a sudden change of heart?
Once a company begins to dominate a particular industry, it runs the risk of becoming a monopoly and stifling competition. There is nothing wrong with being a big company, but rather how you behave as a business. Recently, Google has become very ambitious with several of its business connections and policies, such as seeking to team up with Yahoo!, the Google Books project settlement with authors and publishers, and sharing two board members with Apple.
One area to observe, antitrust experts say, is whether Google uses its search engine to give it a leg up in new businesses… Google, said Randal C. Picker, an antitrust expert at the University of Chicago law school, is using its search engine to “leverage” another Google service. Such tactics, he said, echo Microsoft’s linking of its Windows operating system to its Web browser. “It is the kind of thing that is likely to get antitrust attention,” Mr. Picker said.
(Source: NY Times, May 19, 2009)
For example, the recently announced Google Profiles service allows people to publish their name, photo and personal information that would automatically be displayed in Google’s search results. This could potentially compete directly with Facebook’s and other social network profiles who are not automatically included in Google’s search results. Google’s response to these allegations is that they are providing a free service in which users have more control over their personal online identity.
At any rate, Google will remain in the antitrust spotlight until it becomes more active in “anticompetitive conduct.”