Microsoft-Yahoo: Google ethics and the "monopoly pissing match"

As excitement heats up around Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Yahoo, Google feels threatened and has jumped into the fray, as reported by Dan Farber, ZDNet's editor in chief. Rightfully concerned about the impact the merger may have on its own core search business, Google is trying every trick in the book to influence the outcome.

As excitement heats up around Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Yahoo, Google feels threatened and has jumped into the fray, as reported by Dan Farber, ZDNet's editor in chief. Rightfully concerned about the impact the merger may have on its own core search business, Google is trying every trick in the book to influence the outcome.

Larry Dignan, ZDNet's executive editor, has some choice words on the matter:

For now it appears that Google is launching a two front war. First, Google wants to help Yahoo disrupt Microsoft. And if that effort fails Google is going to make damn sure regulators look closely at this deal.

Add it up and you have a monopoly pissing match with Google and its search dominance in one corner and Microsoft and its Windows market share in the other. Pick your poison.

DON'T BE EVIL

All of which suggests it's time to take a look at Google's corporate Code of Conduct:

"Don't be evil." Googlers generally apply those words to how we serve our users. But "Don't be evil" is much more than that. Yes, it's about providing our users unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs and giving them the best products and services that we can. But it's also about doing the right thing more generally – following the law, acting honorably and treating each other with respect.

This position is amplified in Google's philosophy, where the company states:

You can make money without doing evil.

Wikipedia offers a little background to help interpret the meaning behind "don't be evil":

By instilling a Don't Be Evil culture, the corporation establishes a baseline for decision making that can enhance the trust and image of the corporation that outweighs short-term gains from violating the Don't Be Evil principles.

WHAT DOES EVIL MEAN, ANYWAY?

In discussing the Microsoft-Yahoo merger, Google's Chief Legal Officer said:

Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors' email, IM, and web-based services? Policymakers around the world need to ask these questions -- and consumers deserve satisfying answers.

Microsoft's Chief Counsel responded:

Today, Google is the dominant search engine and advertising company on the Web. Google has amassed about 75 percent of paid search revenues worldwide and its share continues to grow. According to published reports, Google currently has more than 65 percent search query share in the U.S. and more than 85 percent in Europe. Microsoft and Yahoo! on the other hand have roughly 30 percent combined in the U.S. and approximately 10 percent combined in Europe.

Does the "don't be evil" mantra cover Google's disingenuous statements that present partial truths, in a clear attempt to confuse the market, consumers, and regulators around the world? You decide.

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