FTC Prepping Probe into Google's Search Dominance

by GoogleBeingEvil Email

Bing, Yahoo and Google are all search engines, but only Google is used interchangeably as a verb. Why? Google dominates the internet with over 80% of search.

The Federal Trade Commission has contacted the legal departments of Microsoft and Yahoo, telling them to be prepared for targeted inquiries from the FTC. They aren't being subpoenaed, but they are expected to cooperate in the investigation.

Google's recent purchase of ITA, a travel software company, was approved last month but only under the condition that Google play nice and continue to provide data to it's rivals. The deal has brought more unwelcome scrutiny to Google. As it's dominance in all things relating to search continues to grow, the government is taking more and more interest.

Will the US government declare that Google is in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890? Is Google really engaging in anticompetitive behavior? Many believe that this legal battle will be an uphill one from the government's side. In United States vs. Microsoft, the US did not succeed in breaking up Microsoft, but they did succeed in changing the that the company does business.

Google Goes to Washington

by GoogleBeingEvil Email

Today Google and Apple representatives were on Capital Hill, being questioned by lawmakers over the GPS tracking fiasco that has unfolded in recent weeks. Both companies have been hammered by privacy advocates and lawmakers when British researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden revealed that Google & Apple were both caching and transmitting the device ID, cell tower location information and SSIDs of nearby wi-fi hotspots. Senator Al Franken was the ringmaster of today's circus, and you can rest easy knowing that absolutely nothing was accomplished by these proceedings.

Apple's initial response to allegations of tracking customers' every move was to say that this was a tracking 'bug' left over from initial iOS development, and quickly moved to fix this with the release of iOS 4.3.3 last week. The patch does not stop data collection, although it now does anonymize data and reduce the recent location cache size.

Google on the other hand makes no pretensions on how important user's location data is to the company's long term strategy, and thus far seems intent on defending this position. Internal emails received by the Silicon Valley Mercury News between Larry Page and Senior Vice President of Mobile, Andy Rubin, reveal that the pair were upset by Motorola's decision to use Skyhook's wi-fi location database rather than Google's for location data collection. Google warned Motorola that Skyhook would make the highly popular Droid X phone incompatible with the Android operating system. Late last year Skyhook filed a lawsuit against Google for anti-competitive behavior - a settlement is expected sometime within the next 100 years.

Google & Apple get smacked by FTC antitrust accusations

by GoogleBeingEvil Email

The Clayton Antitrust Act (section 8 specifically) has been invoked by the Federal Trade Commission in an investigation of Google & Apple's overlapping board members, Arthur Levinson & Eric Schmidt.

Arthur Levinson, according to Forbes, is a co-director at Apple and a director on Google's board. Steve Jobs wanted some of Google's juice so brought Eric Schmidt on to Apple's board of directors in 2006. One small obstacle: antitrust law! A 1990 amendment to the Clayton Antitrust Act forbids two competing companies from having overlapping officers as this could lead to conflict of interest.

There are massive conflict of interest problems when you have two software giants competing in the smartphone arena. True, there are some differences: Google Android is an open source platform not dependent on any particular hardware platform, while Apple produces all of the hardware and software itself. But this antitrust action will no doubt make future deals between the two giants subject to oversight. Expect to see a lot more invocations of Clayton Act Section 8 in the future.

More soon.