Google: A Bigger Monopolistic Threat Than Microsoft?

Lora Bentley

Was it just last week I wondered how long it would be before Google drew increased interest from U.S. antitrust and unfair competition regulators? It seems I was way behind the Federalist Society, which hosted a debate at the National Press Club on those very issues before I had even asked the question.

 

Participants included Precursor president Scott Cleland; Susan Creighton, a partner at the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; Lewis & Clark Law School lecturer Geoffrey A. Manne; Rick Rule, a partner in the law firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; and CPA Global's VP of legal services outsourcing, Montgomery N. Kosma.

 

I have not yet had the opportunity to listen to audio of the event, though I plan to. However, Byron Acohido, writing for USA Today's Technology Live blog, shares the following:

Cleland accused the search giant of engaging in "pervasive predatory anti-competitive behavior that is seriously harming competition. [He] supplied a long list of alleged Google sins, ranging from "price-fixing and auction-manipulation" stemming from its bread-and-butter search advertising business, to "proactively thwarting" the proposed Microsoft-Yahoo merger last year. [He] also outlined a case for how Google steers online advertising spending towards search ads, which it dominates, and away from display ads, which big media companies are scrambling to tap.

Google attorneys, of course, argue otherwise. The Federalist Society Web site quotes Google's Kent Walker this way:

 

The nature of the Internet is just a fundamentally different world from the sale of packaged software or the bundling of software with OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). The standard line we have is that competition is just one click away.

 

That's fine if all you're addressing is the search market. But I think the issue changes quite dramatically when you add markets like mobile phone, global positioning systems, and others upon which Google appears to be encroaching.



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