Robert Reich Comments on the Coming Google.opoly

A few days ago, I boldly asserted that, "Attracting 49% of all online searches and a sizeable share of all online advertising expenditures, Google risks becoming or being perceived as the most monopolistic business on Earth, even if they just stick to search, which does not appear to be their strategy." -- [Mearch This: Googleopoly]

Like most avid bloggers, I am perpetually curious about who reads my blog. Now I know! You and Robert Reich. 🙂

On Marketplace today, Robert Reich opines (text | podcast),

"Google is playing politics. MSN handles about 10% of Internet searches in the US compared to Google's 50 percent. As long as users prefer Google, they'll type it into their browser or make Google their homepage regardless of what Microsoft does. Google is big enough to protect itself just by telling consumers how they can get to it. I mean, we're not talking about a little start-up company here. Google's first-quarter revenues were $2.25 billion. It's part of the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index.

That Google is complaining about Microsoft's browser to antitrust officials in Washington and Europe shows how important politics has become to the competitive strategies of big high-tech firms. They're paying armies of Washington lawyers and lobbyists to try to outmaneuver each other on the playing fields of regulation and litigation.

Google increased its spending on outside lawyers and lobbyists by more than a half-million dollars last year, and is investing like mad in political advisers, consultants and government-affairs professionals on K Street and in Brussels. Microsoft is well-represented in these hot spots, too, as is Yahoo. But Microsoft has already been bruised by American antitrust and is now in trouble with European antitrust authorities. So Google probably figures a little saber-rattling in Washington and Brussels is a cheap way to reduce Microsoft's natural aggressiveness.

But Google better be careful when it raises the specter of antitrust. Its own strategy of adding all sorts of software features to its free Web-based service is just as likely to discourage new startup software companies as Microsoft's practice of bundling software features into its Windows operating system. Regardless of how many lobbyists and lawyers it hires, as Google becomes the dominant operating system of the Internet it could find itself in the same antitrust hot water as Microsoft — whose Windows is the dominant operating system of personal computing."

" Google becomes the dominant operating system of the Internet..." Now there's an interesting way of looking at Google. It's clear that Robert Reich is a smart man. It's also clear that he reads the right blogs. 🙂 For the sake of full disclosure, I am a Microsoft employee, a MSFT shareholder, and a member of the Microsoft Political Action Committee. Mr. Reich, to the best of my knowledge, is none of the above.

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