The size of Google means it is catching the attention of antitrust authorities. That part is inevitable. I am sure their legal department is already geared up to answer antitrust concerns.
Not long ago, Microsoft decided to throw a spanner at Google by asking antitrust authorities in Europe to investigate Google. A lot of commentators says that Microsoft decided that it could not compete with Google on the normal battlegrounds and so decided to take the (desperate) attempt at using antitrust as a competitive weapon. I am sure there are some truth in it.
First, the complaint about crawling YouTube. From an outsider’s point of view, it sounds like Microsoft moaning that Google did not let Microsoft crawl YouTube in Microsoft’s preferred way. To that, my response is too bad for Microsoft. Google is not obliged to make it easy for Microsoft to crawl the website. However, because YouTube is a huge and important website and its very close tie to Google, it must provide reasonable access. One can argue that at some point, what is normal business practice of excluding/hindering the competition’s ability to crawl a website can raise antitrust concerns due to the Google-YouTube relationship. However, from the description provided by Microsoft’s General Council, I cannot see why they claim we reach the tipping point.
Second, on Android (and iPhone’s) supposed superior ability to access the site compared to Windows Phone’s. The argument here is Google penalized Windows Phone because Microsoft offers search. This smack like a rerun of Microsoft Windows giving Microsoft Office superior access to ‘hidden’ APIs. Unfortunately, since Microsoft admits that iPhone’s access is also superior to that of Windows Phone, one wonders whether is it because Microsoft refuse to sign an agreement which allows it equal access as Apple. If so, then the wording of the agreement is needed to evaluate whether that agreement is fair or Microsoft has a case. On the surface, as Android is extremely successful and Microsoft’s Windows Phone has yet to prove that it is a serious challenger, I cannot see why Google wants to disadvantage Windows Phone at this point in time. I heard about the argument to ‘nip it in the bud’, but I doubt this is the case here.
Third, the Book Search thing. I can see why the US Judge is worried that Google might be too dominant in the book search field. However, let’s not forget that Microsoft thrown in the towel on this issue. I truly believe that Google’s dominant in book search, if it is too strong, is not good for everyone. I’m still a bit puzzle on why it is not Amazon that file the complaint.
Fourth, advertisers’ access to their own data. This complain is over my head. I cannot evaluate it except to say that it is not unusual to not be able to access all the data one upload to any providers. For example, I often wonder what happens to the data inside a database once you stop your subscription to your database provider. The sad truth is, you might not even be able to get to read the data once your subscription expires. Finally, Google is known to be one of the most open company when it comes to getting access to your data held on Google.
I have an answer to the fifth and final complain, i.e., Google stop websites from distributing other people’s search box via contract. In fact, I got it from Microsoft’s own antitrust problem where Department of Justice claims Microsoft engaged in unfair competition when Microsoft signed agreements with PC vendors to stop them from distributing Netscape browser. The judge says that depriving Netscape of the most easy way to distribute is not unfair. That time, the judgement is for Microsoft, this time, it’s against Microsoft.