Google is throwing down the antitrust FUD in response to the proposed merger between Microsoft and Yahoo. This is getting annoying, not because Google is unique in it, but because other large companies - including Microsoft - have gotten in on the game, too. Microsoft tried to stop the merger between Doubleclick and Google (still pending approval in the EC, approved in the US). I guess this can be considered "tit" for "tat" between two companies scouring the ammunition barrel for everything they can throw at the other.
In my humble opinion, if you don't want antitrust regulators hanging around your doorstep like angry wasps (and I should think that, these days, Google has reason to fear that as well), the last thing you need to do is keep banging the hive in hopes they might go after your competitors. But oh well...big companies will act like a couple of Appalachian families with a score to settle.
David Drummond, Senior VP at Google, doesn't explain exactly HOW Microsoft is supposed to do the following. He just, in true passive-aggressive fashion, asks "questions:"
Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? While the Internet rewards competitive innovation, Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies -- and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets.
How, pray tell, is Microsoft supposed to do this? Yahoo and Microsoft have a strong presence in both IM and Email, but I know I have email addresses in many places (Google included, plus Yahoo, Microsoft and a large cluster of other locations), and I currently have four IM clients on my desktop: Skype, Yahoo, MSN and a Jabber client (the better to work on an XMPP-related side project). I'm not alone in that, and most young people (a group among whom I do not count myself) find multiple IM clients and email addresses par for the course in the digital age.
IE had more share of the browser space for years than a combined Microsoft / Yahoo could ever hope to have in IM and email. Has that enabled Microsoft's flavor of HTML to conquer the world, or hindered the growth of Firefox? If anything, it seems the Internet does a fine job of defending its open technologies, forcing companies like Microsoft to move towards standards compliance rather than the other way around. As a percentage of web sites on the Internet, I bet Microsoft and Yahoo combined don't even account for a tiny fraction of the whole, a fact that goes a long way towards preventing any one entity from controlling the technology used on the Internet.
The combination gives the combined entity more heft in online marketing, which is probably the real subtext underlying Google's protestations. Yet, compared to the juggernaut that is the Google online marketing machine, the two together are in a different league. Perhaps people should be asking questions as to why Google, a company who stands to face more competition through a combination of the online marketing efforts of Yahoo and Microsoft, should be expressing anything less than self-interest with respect to the merits (or lack thereof) of the merger.
I myself am not convinced as to whether the merger is a great idea. I reject wholeheartedly, however, that antitrust should have anything to do with whether the merger goes forward.
I thought it was wrong for Microsoft to use antitrust to try to block Google's merger with DoubleClick. I think Google is wrong to do the same in the other direction.